They say that the one good thing that comes out of war and strife is technological advancement. Facial recognition technology that was originally created to identify terrorist suspects is now going to be employed in the pursuit of knowledge: to identify people featured in paintings of the past.
Who is the Girl with the Pearl Earring? The Mona Lisa? These are answers art historians have only been able to speculate on. The FACES (Faces, Art, and Computerized Evaluation Systems) project by researchers at the University of California seeks to change that.
It is suggested that the technology could go further than identifying enigmatic painting subjects. Architectural changes could be analyzed to provide new information on construction processes and the history of buildings. Paleography (the study of ancient writing) could also make use of it to understand where ancient manuscripts originated and developed – which many archaeologists quibble about due to the very subjective evidence that’s currently available.
So we may soon be able to know who the Mona Lisa really was, and that might eventually lead us to why she has such a creepy smirk.