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Digital Information and Communication Technology Used in New Exhibition Organized by the Louvre
By comparing the various processes used so skillfully by the authors
of the three portraits on display, we are able to distinguish the main
specific features of the "Fayum portraits." © photo DNP.

TOKYO.- The "Louvre - DNP Museum Lab" is a joint project, begun by the musée du Louvre and Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) in 2006, which seeks to offer new approaches to artworks. Three portraits of women from Roman-Egyptian antiquity (2nd century A.D.) will be on show for the final presentation in the first phase of this project. Alongside original works, multimedia mediation using digital information and communication technology will allow viewers to discover the specific features of these paintings, as well as of the portrait art developed by Egyptian artisans in the 2nd century A.D. at a time when three civilizations were coming together. The insights provided will enable visitors to gain an in-depth understanding of the works exhibited.

Artworks on display
The artworks that are displayed in this presentation are Ancient Egyptian portraits created in the 2nd century A.D. during the period of Roman domination. They belong to a group commonly known as "Fayum portraits". Painted on wood during the models' lifetimes, they were fixed to their mummies when they died. Around a thousand images of this type are known to exist to date, found buried among grave goods and protected by Egypt's dry climate; today they are among the oldest known examples of portraits painted on wood using the encaustic* technique. These works, the fruit of a hybridization of Egyptian funerary rites, the Greek technique of encaustic painting, and the Roman tradition of realistic portraits, reflect the cultural blend prevalent in Egypt at the time. Among the three works on display, the portrait known as "L'Européenne" is one of the major artworks in the Louvre's collection in the quality of its execution and the beauty of the woman's features.

Mediation and multimedia tools
• Reception

Visitors pick up their multimedia handsets at reception and select one of the three languages available (Japanese, French, or English). They can then begin their visit following the directions provided by the multimedia handset, which will accompany them throughout the seven multimedia displays on offer. For this presentation, all of the multimedia handsets feature Augmented Reality* technology, offering a new kind of visitor assistance. By simply bringing the handset's camera up to one of the pictograms found near each display and photographing it, visitors can obtain information at any time on the way they work. This information appears on the handset's screen in the form of synthesized images superimposed on those of the actual environment.

• Presentation room
Here visitors can admire the three portraits from the Louvre's collections.

Discovering other portraits
By means of a multimedia display installed in a separate, adjacent area, visitors can discover a large selection of other "Fayum portraits," projected actual-size on a wall. The images are shown in slow sequence. Drawing nearer to the wall, visitors have an enlarged view of the portraits closest to them so as to let them enjoy going back and forth between the observation of a group of works and of a particular work that has caught their eye. They are therefore able to admire in greater detail the techniques employed and their specific features.

• Theater
Admiring the artist’s touch

By comparing the various processes used so skillfully by the authors of the three portraits on display, we are able to distinguish the main specific features of the "Fayum portraits," particularly the modes of representation peculiar to encaustic painting. Visitors can discover the whole palette of these highly-detailed expressions via an impressive super high-definition program on a big screen entitled "Observing the painters' hand."

• Foyer / Multimedia zone
Five multimedia displays are on offer in the foyer's multimedia zone. They make use of digital and image processing technologies to provide an in-depth discovery of the works on display and a better understanding of their specific features, the historical context, or the techniques used.

Observing the details
By tracing with their fingers an actual-size reproduction of a work on a screen, visitors can linger over details of interest to them and enlarge them for a closer look. This applies, for example, to the artist's techniques or to the clothes and jewelry worn by the women. Visitors can use this display at their own pace and return to it at any point during their visit, as they make new discoveries.

Understanding the background context
These Roman-Egyptian portraits appeared at the crossroads of the three ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome—but how and when did these three civilizations encounter and influence one another? An image sequence seeks to chart the evolution of these three civilizations in time and in space, with particular attention to the three aspects of political context, gods, and the representation of the human figure.

Questioning a mummy
One mummy in the Louvre's collections has retained its painted portrait. This mummy of Eudaimonis is to act as a model in an attempt to decipher the various elements that reflect the cultural intermingling of the time, by inviting visitors to consult a touch panel based on six thematic approaches, including portrait depiction, pictorial technique, and funerary rites. Visitors can therefore enjoy a preview experience of a display that will be introduced into the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

Deconstructing/Reconstructing the painting, layer by layer
In this display, which is placed on a specimen box containing examples of the materials used to create an encaustic painting, digitally-reconstructed images chart the production process. In the course of an interactive operation, visitors are able to explore the various pictorial levels—usually imperceptible to the naked eye—layer by layer, and thereby instinctively understand the technique of stacked layers of paint characteristic of encaustic painting.

What impression do these faces make on you?
Here visitors are invited to select those works that they particularly liked from among the works on display and the portraits they were able to encounter throughout the course of their visit, and give their impressions using key words. They can take home a reproduction of one of the works on show, associated with the key words they selected.

Louvre | Dai Nippon Printing | Egypt | Greece | Rome | multimedia | mummy |

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