The software developer Simone Seagle has taken the images of several paintings in the Met collection – released on open access – and transformed them into lovely and moody animated interactives.

You can see a bunch of them here on her own web site, and at the Met’s site she’s written an essay meditating on the process. It’s an ode to the enormous creativity that’s uncorked when we legally allow artists (encourage them, even!) to transform the works of their forebears …

Beyond the joy I get from creating these interactives, I have two other goals—first, to engage with some of my favorite works of art and share them, and second, to demonstrate how math and programming can combine with these works of art to create something new. As I look through The Met’s online collection, I try to imagine how each piece would come to life if it could. I choose art that resonates with me personally, and also make sure that the work’s tone won’t make cutting it up and animating it seem disrespectful. Many pieces of art would need an expert animator to bring them to life convincingly—especially the nearly photorealistic classical paintings. I create more generative types of animation that involve moving and flexing different elements, which is more suited to highly stylized works of art, like those produced around the turn of the 20th century: Art Nouveau, Modernism, Expressionism, and Impressionism. These are some of my favorite works and styles, with pieces that are colorful, exuberant, and not too difficult to pick apart for animations. [snip]

Sometimes I wonder what the artists would think if they saw what I was doing. I hope they would appreciate it, but I’ll never know. And perhaps it doesn’t matter—that’s the beauty of what The Met has done with Open Access. The art that was just for a few now belongs to all, and those with the will and imagination can play with, modify, and augment these works as they see fit. I come to these pieces with my own background and perspective, but there are millions of different ways to approach them for millions of different purposes. I am excited to see what comes next

(Animated gif used with permission of Simone Seagle)