Every Pixel on the Sunset Strip: Machine Vision and Photographs
The Yale Digital Humanities Laboratory has been invited to collaborate with the Getty Research Institute (GRI) on a project to analyze Ed Ruscha’s Streets of Los Angeles. According to the GRI, the Ruscha archive “contains more than a half million images including negatives, digital files, contact sheets, notes, and the complete production archive of Ruscha’s seminal artist book Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966).”
Yale’s accepted proposal, Every Pixel on the Sunset Strip, is a team-based research project that uses machine vision to analyze, connect, and transform the raw material behind Ruscha’s art. The power of artificial vision systems such as convolutional neural networks and computational photography is transforming the way contemporary citizens of Los Angeles produce and consume their own images on social media. But the algorithms which synthesize, label, and transfigure our visual culture on these platforms are increasingly of interest to humanities scholars.
Every Pixel on the Sunset Strip puts recent advances in machine learning into conversation with Ruscha’s photographic negatives. This project leverages techniques from computer science in the service of two goals: to build a descriptive urban heatmap showing computationally recognized objects, and to extract three-dimensional structure from conventional photography.
For an in-progress look at the project, this video demonstrates the way machine vision clusters thousands of automobiles that we computationally extracted from Ruscha’s negatives.
From the Getty Research Institute on the Ruscha Archive
“Ed Ruscha is one of the most important artists of his generation, but until recently no one knew that he has systematically photographed the city of Los Angeles for more than fifty years. The Streets of Los Angeles archive is perhaps the most significant artistic attempt to record the evolution of a city in modern history. Ruscha’s vast photographic archive opens up new possibilities not only for art history and the history of photography but also for architecture and urban planning, cinema, and cultural geography. The Getty Research Institute’s digital art history project will make this remarkable archive available for interdisciplinary scholarship.” -Andrew Perchuk, acting director of the Getty Research Institute
Contact the Team
This project is currently in development. For more information about the project, please contact the DHLab or visit the GRI’s website. For more information about the collaboration with the GRI, please read their press release.