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students slidesWho says slides are dead?  Not the students in Marc Ganzglass’ Sculpture I class, who have been visiting the Visual Resources Center this semester to explore the slide collection.  Each week, two students pull 80 slides (a full carousel tray) and project the images side by side for a Friday morning “slide slam” which serves as visual inspiration for the class.

Although most VRC patrons primarily use our digital collections, it’s been great to see the analog collection getting so much use.  The Bard slide collection represents over 30 years of collecting and remains an incredible resource for images.

Working in a physical collection has been an eye opener for many students who are used to searching for images online, where a finely tuned keyword search can bring up hundreds of related images.  In the slide collection, students must determine how an image might have been filed within the confines of a predetermined organization system.

Image catalogers have long been familiar with the unique challenges slides present. Because an image can be approached from many subject paths, deciding where a slide would ultimately reside in a collection was often a very subjective business.  Should this in-situ fresco be placed in the architecture section with other images of the building, or filed with paintings by the same artist?  What if the fresco was removed and now resides in a museum? Where do views of the Chicago World’s Fair go?  Do we keep them together or should each building be filed under the name of the architect who designed it? What if the view shows more than one building?

The digital revolution has of course dramatically changed the tools we use to find and present images. Certainly one of the greatest improvements is increased access. In the past, students would need to come to the Slide Library to review the images presented in class; now they can view images anytime and from anywhere by accessing our online collections.  There is no longer only one copy of image, and at least most of the time, digital images don’t get lost, broken or turn pink.

We do miss the foot traffic though. It’s been great to hear the exclamations from students when a really amazing image is found.  I’m sure the same joy is felt when something is found in our digital collections, but we’re not there to hear it.

CohenAlbersYale_1955-6_0101

© Yale University Press

Yale University Press has released the “Interaction of Color” app for the iPad to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this iconic book. The new app explores Albers’s teachings through interactive plates that allow users to perform their own experiments with color. The plates are designed to reproduce the experience of working with cut and colored paper and the shapes can be manipulated to see how colors look different on different grounds. The app includes the full text of The Interaction of Color and over 125 of the original color studies. It also includes archival videos of Josef Albers teaching at Yale.

A free version of The Interaction of Color app is available from the itunes store, it allows you to sample Chapter 10 and includes two interactive plates and the palette tool. The full version is available as an in-app purchase for $9.99. The Interaction of Color website includes further information, a sampler of video commentary, and a demonstration video.

ARTstor to drop Java

ARTstor has recently announced an update that will eliminate the need for Java in the ARTstor Digital Library. This update will mainly affect the way single image downloads are handled.

After the update is in place, users who download single image files will receive a zip file that contains a JPEG image and an HTML file with the associated metadata. In addition to removing the need for Java, using zip will allow ARTstor to pursue other feature enhancements, such as additional options for image group downloads.

For some users, mainly those on PCs, it will be necessary to install software such as 7Zip to unzip their downloads.

Getty Research Institute Acquires Archive of the Historic Knoedler & Company Gallery.

SCI-Arc Media Archive

The SCI-Arc Media Archive is a new online resource that presents over 600 lecture and symposium videos held at the Southern California Institute of Architecture from 1974 to the present.   The lectures cover a wide variety of topics relating to architecture and design and feature some of the most significant architects and theorists of the last 50 years.  Each video is extensively described and topics and themes are tagged.  Visitors can search by speaker name, theme or year.

The Rembrandt Database

Painting of a Laughing Man by RembrandtThe Rembrandt Database is a new research resource developed by the Netherlands Institute for Art History. The database contains detailed research material on Rembrandt’s paintings, including provenance and exhibition information, technical documentation and high resolution images. The database is particularly strong in visual material relating to the technical analysis and conservation of the paintings, including infrared and radiographic examinations and sample analysis. To give you an idea of the depth of material contained within this database, there are over 1,700 records relating to only 12 paintings! The Rembrandt Database is still in the beta stage and continues to be developed and expanded. Prints and drawings will be added in the near future.

The Magic Tate Ball is a new location-based mobile app from the Tate. It knows where you are, what the weather is and supposedly what type of artwork you might be in the mood to see.  When you shake your phone, this app presents you with an artwork from the Tate’s collection that is linked to your surroundings. It even senses ambient noise levels to determine whether you’re say, in the library or a bar.  The Magic Tate Ball tells you why it chose a particular image for you and provides a short description of the work.

From my office I was given John Constable’s Flatford Mill (‘Scene on a Navigable River’).  It asked me if I was having a nice bit of peace and quiet,
(like a stroll down this canal?), and ok, it does look a little like the Hudson River…how did it know?

Magic Tate Ball is available for free in the Apple App Store and the Nokia Store.

Images from the ARTstor Digital Library are now accessible through Android-powered devices! Simply go to artstor.org on your device, click the “Enter here” button, and install the free app (you must be a registered user).  iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users can still access ARTstor by going to http://library.artstor.org from your mobile device – no app is required.

Page from the Book of Games, Chess, Dice and Boards from the reign of Alfonso X 'The Wise' (1221-84) King of Leon and Castile.

This summer, I attended a one-day conference entitled The Digital World of Art History, which was organized by the Index of Christian Art at Princeton University.  The papers dealt with a variety of relevant topics including copyright, bibliographic standards, and digital best practices.

The Index of Christian Art is the largest archive of medieval art in the world and the conference offered a fascinating look into their collections and current projects.  Although access to the Index is subscription based, I learned about several publicly accessible image databases that the Index has made available on their website for scholarly use. The images in these databases come largely from donated collections and include the Gabriel Millet collection of Byzantine and Early Christian art (over 10,000 images), The Gertrude and Robert Metcalf Collection of Stained Glass, The Mills-Kronborg Collection of Danish Church Wall Paintings, the Tuck Langland Collection (Gothic Architecture) and the Svetlana Tomekovic Database of Byzantine Art.

Conference papers from The Digital World of Art History can be viewed here.

A nice selection of drawing and image manipulation apps for the iPad are reviewed today over at My Life Scoop. Particularly intriguing is LiveSketch, an app that allows you to create drawings that look like pencil on paper.  If you don’t have an iPad, you can try the browser based drawing tool Harmony which LiveSketch is based on.

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