Digital David

Laser scanning device on Michelangelo's David

Photo by Paul Debevec, courtesy of the Digital Michelangelo Project.

A laser scanning device shoots a beam on the nose of Michelangelo's masterpiece "David" as computer scientists from the UW, Stanford and other institutions try to create virtual replicas of the Renaissance master's sculptures. Computer Science and Engineering Professor Brian Curless joined the Digital Michelangelo Project in Italy this spring. The project, led by Curless' doctoral adviser at Stanford University, Marc Levoy, aims to produce the first authoritative computer archive of Michelangelo's sculptures. "We are able to get quarter-millimeter resolution, which is good enough to see Michelangelo's chisel marks clearly. It's an unbelievably faithful representation of the original," says Curless. Computer graphics technology should allow viewers to examine a sculpture from various perspectives, zoom in on details as small as chisel marks and change lighting conditions to see how they affect a statue's appearance.

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