Centuries-old mysteries of art might soon be solved with the help of anti-terrorist face recognition technology. Scientists hope to use software created to battle terror to find out the names of unidentified sitters in the world’s famous portraits.
Two art historians and an electronic engineer from the University of California called their project FACES – the Faces, Art and Computerized Evaluation Systems.
The new software will identify faces by comparing them to the scans of known features of individuals, such as a death mask or identified sculpture, the Independent reports. The project has won a $25,000 grant from the US government.
"Before the advent of photography, portraits were, almost by definition, depictions of people who were important in their own worlds. But, as a walk through almost any major museum will show, a large number of these unidentified portraits from before the 19th century have lost the identities of their subjects," Conrad Rudolph, professor of art history at the University of California is quoted by the Independent.
The authors of the project admit that the software cannot guarantee success in every case due to the huge variety of facial expressions, pose, age of the subject, and lighting.