Canon captures 4.2 gigapixel photo of priceless Japanese artwork

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The Japanese Cultural Heritage Project has partnered with Canon to create a visually identical copy of an ancient and priceless piece of Japanese art by combining a 4.2 gigapixel photo with the skills of artisans who practice ancient techniques .

The Tsuzuri Project

The Japanese Cultural Heritage Project, also known as the Tsuzuri project, is a joint effort of Canon and the Kyoto Culture Association (NPO) who have come together to create and donate a high-resolution facsimile of “Gods of Wind and Thunder” by Tawaraya Sotatsu. Originally created in the Japanese Edo period (18th century), the artwork is considered a definitive work of Japanese culture as the crowning achievement of the artist and is currently housed in the Kyoto National Museum. .

“Through the efforts of the Tsuzuri Project, the original works can be preserved in more ideal environments while their high-resolution facsimiles can be widely used for public display, allowing more people to experience the works in person,” says Canon.

The first reproduction of the work, made during Stage 4 of the Tsuzuri Project, was created in 2011 and has since been on display at Kenniji Temple. Now in Stage 14, Project Tsuzuri is taking advantage of advances in imaging technology to create an even higher resolution facsimile of the artwork that is even more accurate than the original.

To do this, the original artwork was first photographed in stages with a Canon EOS R5 and then combined to create a finished file of approximately 4.2 gigapixels in size.

In order to faithfully recreate the original

It’s very large but it’s far from the highest resolution art photo that has been made. This was recently done by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which published an interactive photo of Rembrandt’s work. night watch earlier this month to the tune of 717 gigapixels. Or The Tsuzuri Project differs in its aim of creating a replica of the original artwork that would be difficult to distinguish from the original, and the attention to both scanning the original photo recreating the overlaid gold leaf is unique to this project . The goals of each project are also quite different.

The Tsuzuri Project

In this case, once the high-resolution image was captured, it was printed on a 12-ink Canon printer onto tissue paper, which is normally a problematic process. In order to replicate the actual look of the painting, the artisans – authentic Nishijin artisans, or “leaf” artists – carefully sized and applied gold leaf to the print and shaped it to reflect the original. Finally, the artwork was mounted by a separate set of master craftsmen on an authentic Japanese sliding door.

The twin screens of “The Wind and Thunder Gods” recreate the tonal variations, brushstrokes and texture of the original cultural assets as closely as possible. Canon’s advanced technologies, such as image capture technologies applied to create 4.2 billion pixels of ultra-high resolution data, image processing technology, printing technology and traditional skills of Japanese artisans have been combined to create unprecedented high resolution facsimiles. .

Canon claims that through its technical expertise in imaging, processing and production with the skilled craftsmanship of traditional Kyoto artisans, the original artwork has been recreated in exquisite detail, including clouds of light. dark ink on a background of golden paper, fine grains of pigment and delicate brushstrokes.

“Thanks to the improved accuracy of the color matching system independently developed by the project, high-precision color matching can be achieved in a short time, which helps reduce the wear and tear of the original artwork and makes it possible to production of more faithful high-resolution facsimiles,” the company says.

The high-resolution copy was donated to Kenniji Temple and is available to the public, helping to continue spreading education in Japan’s art history without endangering the original artwork, a risk inherent in exhibiting works of art in public.


Picture credits: Photos courtesy of Canon. Header image, photo “Gods of Wind and Thunder” by Tsuzuri Project. Original artwork by Tawaraya Sotatsu.

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