Google features more content from Korea on cultural platform

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Google features more content from Korea on cultural platform

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Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute, explains Google’s new partnerships with Korean cultural institutions at the MMCA’s Seoul branch. Provided by Google

Ultra-high-resolution “gigapixel” images of six Korean artworks and artifacts, as well as online exhibits of intangible parts of Korean culture such as recipes from the Joseon period (1392-1910) and the history of K-pop in the 2000s are now available to view on global Internet giant Google’s cultural platform.

Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute, said during his visit to Seoul yesterday that the U.S. company has entered into partnerships with 10 additional Korean cultural institutions, including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), the Academy of Korean Studies and the Recording Industry Association of Korea.

Besides these, Google formed partnerships with 10 other Korean institutions, including the National Museum of Korea, since it launched its Google Art Project in 2011, wowing art lovers internationally with virtual tours of major museums around the world and high-resolution images of the masterpieces they house. The Art Project has been extended to the Cultural Institute to embrace not only visual art but also intangible culture and related archives.

Now, Google has more than 700 partners from 60 countries providing images of more than six million cultural objects. Among them are 13,500 photographs of Korean objects such as the 1,500 high-resolution images added through the new partnerships.

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An unknown Joseon painter’s “A Portrait of Yi Chungwon” (1604) is one of the six Korean cultural pieces now represented in ultra-high-resolution gigapixel images on Google Cultural Institute. When zoomed in on, the images show even the details of brush strokes invisible to the naked eye.[Screen capture]

In particular, six Korean cultural objects, including the beloved modern painter Park Soo-keun’s “Grandfather and Grandson” (1960) and Princess Deok-on’s 19th-century wonsam (ceremonial robe), are newly represented in gigapixel images, which comprise more than seven billion pixels each. When zoomed in on, the images even show the details of brush strokes or fabric textures that are invisible to the naked eye.

테스트

An unknown Joseon painter’s “A Portrait of Yi Chungwon” (1604) is one of the six Korean cultural pieces now represented in ultra-high-resolution gigapixel images on Google Cultural Institute. When zoomed in on, the images show even the details of brush strokes invisible to the naked eye.[Screen capture]

The partnerships with the additional 10 local institutions also enable viewers to go on virtual tours of some parts of the MMCA Gwacheon in Gyeonggi, the Eumsikdimibang museum in North Gyeongsang and four other museums in Korea.

테스트

An unknown Joseon painter’s “A Portrait of Yi Chungwon” (1604) is one of the six Korean cultural pieces now represented in ultra-high-resolution gigapixel images on Google Cultural Institute. When zoomed in on, the images show even the details of brush strokes invisible to the naked eye.[Screen capture]

In addition, 33 online exhibitions based on the collections or archives of the institutions are now up on the Google Cultural Institute, including “K-Pop History” and the online version of the offline show “Brilliant Hues - Mother of Pearl of Joseon Dynasty,” which is currently running at the Horim Museum in southern Seoul. The digital exhibit is also available on the museum’s website.

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“K-Pop History” is part of the 33 new digital exhibitions about Korean culture on the Google Cultural Institute. [Screen capture]

Pointing out that Internet traffic to the partner museums’ own websites would increase through such digital shows, Sood emphasized that Google’s nonprofit project is far from the imperialistic intention of raking in traffic from culturally curious people for the Internet giant’s own gain.

“I don’t care where the content is. What is important is that the museums started opening up their amazing collections due to this project and they are now accessible,” he said. “If the information I was looking for had been available four years ago, I would not have started this project.”

Sood pointed out that when we search with a keyword - love, for example - the results ranking high are not very cultural. Through the Google Cultural Institute’s digital gallery featuring old and modern masters’ art on love, the number of views of these images increased, improving the possibility for the content to be shown higher on search results, he said.

“The IT service wants the Internet [to be] more cultural by leading more views on those contents,” Sood said.

So is Google converting from a neutral portal to a cultural editor?

“Not at all,” he said. “We don’t choose the artworks - the content. As for Korean partners, they select the works that they think are best to represent Korea.”

He also emphasized that Google provides a platform on which its partners can develop their own mobile applications themselves.

Find Google’s cultural project on www.google.com/culturalinstitute.

BY MOON SO-YOUNG [symoon@joongang.co.kr]

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