How computers interpret Christmas paintings

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Prof. Dr. Peter Bell on the automated recognition of art historical representations


How can computers automatically recognize and understand Christmas scenes? How have festive motifs changed over the years? These questions were addressed on Monday, December 16th, by the series of events “Science in the Castle” at FAU. The lecture by Peter Bell is available on the FAU video portal:

from the video portal of the FAU.

The Adoration of the Shepherds and the Kings are not only central events in the Christmas story, but also important themes in the visual arts. While the Adoration of the Kings has been widespread and differentiated since early Christianity, the Adoration of the Shepherds only reached its peak in the early modern period. Together, these two iconographies make up many thousands of depictions. Peter Bell shows how research with the help of computers can approach these multi-figured motifs and their numerous stylistic and technical implementations. To what extent is it possible to recognize scenes automatically and to understand them on the basis of visual findings? Not only the current status of artificial vision becomes clear, but also how Christmas motifs have changed and developed over the centuries.