Genius Mind of Leonardo da Vinci Is Now on Display in Largest Online Archive

Inside A Genius Mind: Leonardo da Vinci Codices

Da Vinci's Codex Leicester, complete with sketches and writings. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)
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Leonardo da Vinci lived from 1452 to 1519. Over the course of his life, the Italian Renaissance man proved his genius across multiple fields, including painting, drawing, inventing, and anatomy. His Codices in particular hold the internal workings of his mind. Spanning about 6,000 pages, these collected notes can now be explored through an online experience, aptly called Inside A Genius Mind, which was created by a fascinating collaboration of AI technology and human scholarship.

The codices include the Codex Atlanticus and the Codex Leicester (or Codex Hammer), the latter of which is owned by Bill Gates. He purchased it for over $30 million back in 1994. Inside the codices, Da Vinci recorded his thoughts in mirror writing, backward and flipped so as to make it hard to decipher. He also sketched inventions such as crossbows and the anatomy of his future painting subjects. The new online experience combines all of this by analyzing six volumes, 718 pages, and over 3,000 drawings. The result is an immersive experience.

You can choose curated stories that examine the codices through five different themes. Or you can peruse all on your own, as sketches move like the starfield screensaver of old. Clicking on one sketch brings it into focus, with information on where the original can be found. There are also descriptions explaining the content and the option to filter by AI tags. In the case of the latter, artificial intelligence curates similar sketches. “Inside A Genius Mind uses machine learning in a radically new way to weave together the content of the notebooks, drawing thematic connections across time and subject matter to reflect Leonardo’s spirit of interdisciplinary imagination, innovation, and the profound unity at the heart of his apparently diverse pursuits,” explains the Google project.

Professor Martin Kemp, an Oxford University professor, who has written works such as Living with Leonardo: Fifty Years of Sanity and Insanity in the Art World and Beyond, collaborated with the algorithm to create this experience. It combined technology of which even Leonardo could not have dreamed with the work of devotee scholars who have dedicated their careers to understanding his genius. Explore this meeting of the minds yourself today and experience genius firsthand.

Explore Leonardo da Vinci's codices—sketches and recordings of his many brilliant thoughts—through this collaboration of AI technology and human scholarship.

The online collection is free to explore and has multiple pathways for the curious viewer to browse.

h/t: [Open Culture]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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