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Subject: Watermarks research project

Watermarks research project

From: Richard Mulholland <r.mulholland>
Date: Friday, November 24, 2000
The Conservation of Fine Art Unit and the Institute for Image Data
Research (IIDR) at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, UK
are undertaking a collaborative project involving the development of
a shape retrieval system for watermark images from works of art on
paper. The aim of the project is threefold:

    1.  The development of automatic shape retrieval techniques for
        watermark images.

    2.  The development of current research on techniques for
        extracting usable watermark images from works of art on
        paper using Dylux, transmitted light, Beta radiography,
        Microfocus radiography, ultraviolet and infrared techniques,
        digital manipulation etc.

    3.  The compilation of a content-accessible archive of
        watermarks (The Northumbria Watermark Archive) on the web to
        serve as a live and dynamic research tool for art
        historians, paper historians and paper conservators.

The project will apply techniques developed for the IIDR's ARTISAN
software written for the retrieval of trademark images by shape. It
will allow users to introduce a query image (or part image) and
search for similar watermark images in the database. This will be
supplemented by the appropriate textual metadata. The software
differs from other content-based retrieval (CBIR) systems in its
exploitation of Gestalt principles in human perception of shape,
rather than utilising algorithms that simply look  for similar
coloured pixels in corresponding locations in a given image.

It is intended that the active database will include not only
historical information on papers and watermarks (origin, information
about the mill, papermaker, dates etc.) but also information more
relevant to conservators (technical data about the paper used, aging
properties, artists known to have used the paper, how the paper
behaved during /after treatment, case studies etc.) It is hoped also
that the database will be a resource that researchers and
conservators will contribute to. We believe that it will be a useful
supplement to the wealth of information currently available on
watermarks and paper.

A more detailed explanation of ARTISAN and the objectives of the
project is available at
(<URL:>). We
would appreciate any thoughts and comments about the project from
conservators, art historians etc. Correspondence can be sent to:
r.mulholland [at] unn__ac__uk or by post to:

Richard Mulholland
Research Assistant/Conservator
Conservation of Fine Art
Burt Hall
University of Northumbria
Newcastle NE2 4LR
Fax: +44 191 2273250

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:31
               Distributed: Wednesday, November 29, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-14-31-007
Received on Friday, 24 November, 2000

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