Art finds place on computer

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

TECHNOLOGY that allows a computer to store 20,000 images of works of art on a disc the size of a music compact disc has been launched at the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

State of the Art, a visual information system designed for dealers and curators, allows any work of art that can be photographed to be stored in a computerised filing system. Within seconds an entire disc can be scanned and the image of a painting or sculpture retrieved, complete with accompanying text.

State of the Art took its lead from the National Gallery's interactive computer system available to the public. What made the commercial use possible was the development by Kodak of Photo CD, to which 35mm film or slides can be converted in high street photography shops. That has allowed images to be put on computer screens with a quality acceptable to art specialists. The technology is programmed for use on an ordinary Apple Macintosh computer, and is, says the company, so user-friendly that it does not need an instruction manual.

The driving force behind the technology is Edwin Miller, a former dealer in Chinese paintings who had long been frustrated finding ways to keep track of his stock, and the MultiMedia Corporation, an associated company of the BBC.

Mr Miller said he expected the system to be used by both public and private galleries for keeping a record of stock and collections. Also, in the event of loss or damage, a photograph could be distributed to the police and to insurance companies.