Discover visual connections between two works of art

Pick two works of art. Google will find the visual connection between the two artworks. Using several artworks that look visually similar, you’ll see a visual bridge between artworks.

What is the connection between a 4,000-year-old clay figure and Van Gogh’s Starry Night?

How do you get from Bruegel’s Tower of Babel to the street art of Rio de Janeiro?

What links an African mask to a Japanese wood cut?

The X Degrees of Separation webpage explains:

Using Machine Learning techniques that analyze the visual features of artworks, X Degrees of Separation finds pathways between any two artifacts, connecting the two through a chain of artworks. This network of connected artworks allows X Degrees of Separation to take us on the scenic route where serendipity is waiting at every step: surprising connections, masterful works by unknown artists or the hidden beauty of mundane objects.

This tool is so fascinating. It’s a lot of fun to punch in completely different styles of artwork, as in the examples above. But what happens when you take one artist and put in different styles from the same artist? Take Vincent van Gogh’s dirty Potato Eaters (1885) and his colorful Self-Portrait (1887).

Here’s a fascinating path:

Weird dogs, sumo wrestlers, bunny suit, glass civilization (?), brain cat.

How does X Degrees of Separation work?

Someone on Reddit asked how this was built. The author Mario Klingemann (u/Quasimondo) answered:

I build it, so I should know 😉 – it is actually rather simple under the hood: First there is a 128 dimensional feature vector generated using the same algorithm that is behind Google image search. Then all the feature vectors get added to a graph and each node gets connected to its 15 nearest neighbors using the distance between them as the edge weight. Finally A* pathfinding is applied to find a route from a start image to a target image.

About the creator of X Degrees of Separation

Mario Klingemann built X Degrees of Separation as an artist in resident at the Google Arts & Culture Lab from 2016 to 2018. During this time Klingemann gave an interview with where he recalls the fun days of internet with Flash.

Currently, Klingemann is up to some fascinating work (from the about page on his website):

I also have been helping institutions like the British Library, the Cardiff University or the New York Public Library with the processing and classification of their vast digital archives since I believe that my future creative agents will require a solid foundation of human knowledge to build upon.

If you’d like to see more of Klingemann’s art, check out his website

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