Starry Night

Interact with Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

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Who says you can’t mess with the classics? Not Petros Vrellis, a Greek artist who has freed “Starry Night” from the constraints of its static canvas using the magic of code.

Vrellis used openFrameworks, an open-source C++ toolkit, to turn Van Gogh’s 1889 painting into 80,000 movable particles. The images don’t just move in a pre-programmed pattern either. As the second part of the video shows, the movement can be manipulated in real-time, as if the user is the one doing the painting.

If that’s not mind-blowing enough, the music actually responds to the visual flow of the painting too. I don’t know what that means either, but when it comes to art, sometimes it’s best to just embrace the mystery.

Not everyone is thrilled about the painting’s 21st century face lift, however. Vimeo user thebackroomblog responded:

“Post-impressionism itself must remain static, it shouldn't be revisited or exploited like that as it only gets deteriorated... in case we haven't noticed yet and if we take a close look at the work as is... it already moves, no need to enhance that.”

The user has a point. The idea of updating a timeless work of art can be a little off-putting. But it’s not as if Vrellis added UFOs or killer aliens to “Starry Night.” When the results are this beautiful, I say let the desecration continue.

What other paintings would you love to see animated by Vrellis? Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” certainly comes to mind.