In ancient Greece, science and art were deemed as a single concept. It traces back to a term that covered art and technology, “techne”, which was gradually transformed to “ars” in the Roman Empire and then separated into the “art” and “technology” we know today. Noteworthy here is that “techne" refers to not only the artworks as an outcome but also the technologies and craftsmanship that give rise to them. For the Greeks and Romans, the artist and scientist were not two separate occupations but two parts of a single entity.
The Greeks were not alone in their pursuit of art based on science and technology and vice versa. Albert Einstein, the founder of the theory of relativity, stressed that playful activities fueled by artistic inspiration are important for the discovery of profound scientific principles and rules. Manjul Bhargava, the winner of the 2014 Fields Medal (known as the “Nobel Prize of math”), said in his acceptance speech that math and art are in the same vein, especially given that the scientist’s quest for answers to the question “Why?” is no different from the artist’s journey in search of beauty.
In 2020, the Lee Ungno Museum has prepared a special exhibition entitled “Lee Ungno with Google Arts & Culture,” which proposes new ways to appreciate the infinite world of imagination that Lee Ungno, a prominent Korean artist, so earnestly worked to express in his creations, by employing some of the digital technologies of the Google Arts & Culture platform. The exhibition will show that, just as art and science were once one in the past, this invaluable integration of the works of Lee Ungno and latest technology is only natural.
The Lee Ungno Museum has adopted some of Google Arts & Culture’s technologies in the actual exhibition space. Art Camera, the ultra high resolution camera developed with Google technologies, was used to give visitors a particularly vivid experience of things that are difficult to see with the naked eyes—from a single, thin thread to the smallest of letters written on a paper collage artwork—thereby shedding a new light on Lee Ungno’s works. The museum also put significant effort into making their viewing experience as fantastic and other-worldly as possible. The researchers from the Visual Media Lab of KAIST Graduate School of Culture Technology provided technical consultation on how to maximize real immersive experiences in the exhibition hall with Art Camera. Lee Ungno’s work, reborn as media art, will offer new insight to both those who are new to the artist and those who already know him.
In each exhibition hall, visitors will be able to enjoy the art of Lee Ungno in a whole new way through several Google Arts & Culture technologies. Color Palette uses colors to show how Lee Ungno’s creations are associated with artworks from all around the world; Art Selfie deploys artificial intelligence to match faces in artworks with photos; Art Projector shows virtual projections of Lee Ungno’s artworks in their real-life physical dimensions in the augmented reality; and Art Transfer transforms any photo into an image in the style of Lee Ungno’s painting.
This exhibition shows how the encounter of art and science is fun and delightful, and gives everyone eye-opening experiences of beauty. Ultimately, we wish to help visitors discover how technology links us with art and that the technology, as a link, is already embedded deep inside our daily lives.
This summer, immerse yourself in the world of Lee Ungno through this unique collaboration between Google Arts & Culture and the Lee Ungno Museum.