“Last Supper” to go online

MILAN (Reuters) – A high-resolution image of Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” will soon be posted on the Internet by an Italian technology firm, allowing art lovers and conspiracy theorists alike to scrutinize it from their own computers.

The digital imaging firm, called HAL9000 after the killer computer in Stanley Kubrick‘s film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” will post the 16-17 giga pixel image on its Web site (www.haltadefinizione.com) on Saturday.

Located in a former monks’ dining hall adjacent to a church in Milan, the 500-year-old mural by Leonardo Da Vinci depicts Jesus Christ when he predicts that one of his apostles will betray him.

Since the publication of the phenomenally successful novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” theories have abounded about the true meaning of the mural, known in Italian as “Cenacolo.”

In the novel, Dan Brown writes that Jesus Christ married his follower, Mary Magdelene, and fathered a child.

Others have since elaborated on the controversial idea.

The latest was put forward last summer by Slavisa Pesci, an information technologist and amateur scholar, leading to Web sites linked to the mural to crash.

Pesci said the superimposition of the mural with its mirror-image threw up another image containing a figure looking like a Templar knight and another holding a small baby.

HAL9000 General Manager Vincenzo Mirarchi told Reuters on Thursday the reason behind the firm’s decision to post the image on its Web site was to provide an innovative way to appreciate art rather than encourage speculation about its meaning.

“This will make it easier for people to see it,” he said, referring to the difficulties of arranging a visit to the hall where the mural is located.

So many tourists visiting Milan want to see it that they often have to make reservations at least a month in advance.

The posting of the “Last Supper” on the site, a project that has received technical support from Italian publisher De Agostini, will likely bring more hits to the firm’s Web site than other images posted in the past, said Mirarchi.

“We could have a few million visitors,” he said.

Among the other images is a fresco painted by Andrea Pozzo in 1685-1694 at the Sant’Ignazio di Loyola Church in Rome.

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