© 2016 EPFL

© 2016 EPFL

The Fondazione Giorgio Cini and the École polytechnique fédérale, Lausanne, have launched REPLICA, a new search engine for the study and enhanced use of the Venetian cultural heritage. The search engine will be online by the end of 2016.

REPLICA is a three-year international project aimed at creating a search engine based on iconographic search keys dedicated to pictorial and architectural artefacts. It will be developed in two main directions, the acquisition in digital format of the Fondazione Cini Photo Library, and the extraction of these images in a library of graphic patterns available for the search engine to reconstruct visual similarities between various images. A web portal will enable general public users to literally browse thousands of photographs in search of possible links between images, to study genealogical affinities between works of arts or simply admire images in a radically new mode.

The Replica 360 r/v circular scanner has been presented at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. This revolutionary prototype was created by Factum Arte, Madrid, in collaboration with the laboratory of the Digital Humanities Laboratory (DHLAB) of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), as part of the REPLICA international project. What is currently the fastest scanner in the world was specifically designed for the digitisation of large historical documentary archives. From 1 March 2016, work will begin on recording the materials in the Institute of Art History Photo Library in the Fondazione Cini, one of the most important international documentary resources, consisting of around 1 million photographs.

Designed by the EPFL Digital Humanities Laboratory (Isabella di Lenardo, project coordinator, and Benoit Seguin, computer scientist), the search engine is a new tool making pioneering use of algorithms to detect visual similarities in different artistic compositions.

REPLICA is being implemented in partnership with Venice Time Machine, a project created by EPFL in collaboration with Ca’ Foscari University and the Venetian State Archives, with the support of the Fondation Lombard Odier. For image acquisition, REPLICA’s partner will be Factum Arte, Madrid, a studio founded by Adam Lowe that has already collaborated with the Fondazione Cini in the digitisation and creation of the facsimile of the Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese for the Palladian Refectory on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice.