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CS Researchers Changing the Past

04-14-2009

Virtual restoration: three images
Virtual Restoration. Researchers present a system to restore and alter the physical appearance of old and deteriorated objects: a) photograph of an ancient Chinese vase (ca. 2250 BC); b) an image of the synthetic restoration produced by researchers' algorithm; c) photograph of the restored object using this system.

Prof. Daniel Aliaga and graduate student researchers Alvin Law and Yu Hong Yeung are changing the past with virtual restoration of real-world objects. Conservation treatments of historical artifacts are usually limited to the minimum necessary to prevent further deterioration. Aliaga, Law, and Yeung can explore restoration to the point in which an item was initially intended to be seen. Since restoration using a digital image of an object leaves the original object unaltered, restoration is repeatable and flexible. This addresses the dichotomy of keeping the object original and providing multiple possible restorations.

Purdue researchers conduct the virtual restorations by first capturing the image of an object using a digital camera as the only input device. This image is then fed into a computer program which calculates the position, color, and intensity of light needed to project back on the object. Finally, a new image is projected onto the object from several digital projectors. This semi-automatic restoration process provides multiple viewers with results that can be viewed immediately and experienced firsthand without the aid of any viewing devices. Each restoration is produced within minutes with some interaction from the viewer. Additionally, the system has the option to provide virtual illumination on the object to highlight certain portions or surface details.

This project funded by a Purdue-IU Research grant (IARP) is a cooperative effort with Purdue researchers, Amy McKune of the Eiteljorg Museum of Native American Art, Richard McCoy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Larry Zimmerman, Professor of Archaeology and Museum Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University. Demonstrations of digital restorations were presented at the Museum and the Web 2009 conference in Indianapolis. Presentations were held on Tuesday, April 14 at Eiteljorg Museum, Thursday, April 16 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Saturday, April 18 at the Hyatt Hotel. The Museum and the Web conference aims to "addresses the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line."

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