Changing Light: a plethora of digital tools as slides gasp their last?

7 11 2011

The following links are copied from this invited blog post via the Association of Curators of Art and Design Images (ACADI):


Image databases and presentation software

17 09 2010

Catherine Worrall, Image Collections Co-ordinator at the University College Falmouth, has given her kind permission to publish the following review. She discusses how the University College Falmouth use three databases to provide images and presentation software to their staff and students, and why it is important for them to use all three in combination.

1. ARTstor

Although I don’t demo the ARTstor offline viewer, I have looked at it and think it’s useful, although it doesn’t have all of the functions that the online viewer does, including adding text/notes to the images, I think you have to do this in the online one, which then transfers across. But it is good though in that you can add your own images and combine them with ARTstor’s images.

Teaching students how to use these various image databases has been an interesting experience as they vary greatly in their functionality. ARTstor I feel wins hands down in most categories, it’s very intuitive, it’s functions are excellent, in particular the zoom feature is the best that I have seen. It now features a PowerPoint download option, which is really easy to use, and simply downloads an image group directly into PowerPoint in a few clicks. Although I try to encourage staff and students to use ARTstor’s slideviewer, as it is really good, users tend to get stuck in their ways and often resort to PowerPoint (which I think is a shame, as it was never really meant for images). The only downfall with ARTstor is the subject coverage, it has an American and art history bias, and is lacking in design history, however students seem very happy with it for research, and staff here are also impressed with it mostly because of its sophisticated functionality.

2. Bridgeman Education

Bridgeman has a more European and British bias, compared to ARTstor and provides access to images which are more obscure or from private collections. Bridgeman has recently upgraded its functionality, with big improvements to their slideviewer and zoom features. Demonstrating Bridgeman has been fine and both students and staff navigate the interface with no problems, and there has been positive feedback regarding its subject scope.

3. Madison Digital Image Database

MDID2, which is the version we’re using currently, although we will migrate to MDID3 when it is available in the autumn, has been great. It’s given me a place to store images and metadata, and is easy to upload both images and metadata. We will be launching it in the autumn, so I have limited experience of demonstrating it to others’, apart from a few staff members involved in our pilot. Compared to ARTstor, its functionality is not as sophisticated, but it serves a purpose, it’s somewhere users can store their own images and combine them with others both in MDID and elsewhere to create slideshows/groups of images. For us, it is a place to keep unique local collections such as Cornwall Artists and Designers and Degree Show work, and I’m sure it’ll be useful when it is launched. The slideviewer is pretty easy to use and staff liked the lightbox viewer in particular, as it reminds them of viewing slides.

Overall, for now, it is important for us to have all 3 image databases, as they work as a team, and each has its pros and cons!


Teaching with images – a holistic approach

31 03 2010

The current research project is short and sweet hence the need to narrow the focus to image presentation software. However at the same time in the back of my mind I am aware of the need to take a holistic approach looking at everything required in order to effectively support teaching with images.
Some issues and thoughts:

  • Copyright is the biggest issue for education in the UK, next to copyright, issues about image presentation software pale into insignificance.
  • My final report will emphasize the good work already done by the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), for example, the Digital Picture, and Picshare UK, other endeavors, and our current project Look-here!
  • In addition to the project’s literature review looking at existing work in this area, there are also a number of organisations who have long term relationships with VADS, two of the most relevant to this project are: the Association of Curators of Art and Design Images (ACADI), and the Art Libraries Society/UK & Ireland Visual Resources Committee
  • Further to the Enhancing VADS project, I will also seek to explore how the VADS light box could be further developed in order to deliver presentations.
  • It doesn’t matter how good the software is if you don’t have the correct hardware in place and working properly.
  • It doesn’t matter how good the software is if the IT training is not appropriate for the visual arts and/or the software’s full potential is not realised.
  • Ultimately none of the software, hardware, IT skills, copyright issues etc are as important as the teacher/lecturer.