Your Paintings

Landscape with a Cottage and Stream - unknown

Your Paintings (or rather, ‘their paintings’) is a collaborative project between the BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation that aspires to digitize and tag every oil painting in the UK National Collections. Currently still in a beta stage, the project anticipates digitizing a total of 200,000 paintings of which it has completed 77,000.

Your Paintings seeks out only those paintings which belong to the National Collection and, for the most part, the site features pieces owned by state and local authorities, Bishop’s palaces, and Oxford and Cambridge colleges. The project has also chosen to restrict its initial digitization efforts to oil, tempera, and acrylic and excludes other paint media like watercolors in order to keep the project at a manageable scale.

In addition to the digitization initiative, Your Paintings also has a crowd-sourced tagging project to increase the ‘findability’ of each image within the site. Users are invited to participate by tagging randomly selected images using four different controlled vocabularies (things, people, places and events). The biographical and historical information included in each record comes from the participating and owning institutions.

The site makes smart use of slideshows, thumbnails, transitions, drop-down text and multi-media features like hyperlinks, social-media, videos and maps in order to create a site that looks elegant and communicates a great deal of information without being busy or text-heavy. The images are high quality and can be viewed in a pop-out larger format view.

Subject sorting in Google Images: Because Google hasn’t mastered mind-reading yet

In case you aren’t already aware, Google Images has a ‘Sort by Subject’ feature on its results page – it’s the kind of left-margin item that can go easily unnoticed, but for the utility it provides, it should 80 pt. font and flashing. When you conduct a Google images search the default display (bolded and in red) is ‘All results’. The alternative view is ‘By Subject’ which breaks down your results into the most popular images associated with your search. It’s the ideal tool for those, “I can picture it, I just don’t remember what it’s called” searches.

Try it out, but more importantly keep it in mind for those moments when you really need Google to do your remembering for you.

The Lyonel Feininger Archive

Lyonel Feininger : Photographs, 1928-1939

Harvard’s Houghton Library and the Harvard Art Museum’s Lyonel Feininger Archive have collaborated to create an online research microsite presenting a comprehensive collection of Feininger’s largely un-seen photographic works. Harvard holds the majority of Feininger’s photographs, with some 500 photographic prints at the Houghton Library and approximately 18,000 negatives and slides in the Feininger Archive. All of this material has now been digitized and made available through a searchable database, located at the Lyonel Feininger Research Microsite – one of four such microsites created and maintained by Harvard.
The Busch Reisinger Museum at Harvard recently held two exhibitions featuring the work of Lyonel Feininger. The catalog for the photographic exhibition, Lyonel Feininger : photographs, 1928-1939 (Harvard Art Museums, 2011) is now available at the Ricker Library of Architecture and Art. The exhibitions, “Lyonel Feininger: Drawings and Watercolors from the William S. Lieberman Bequest to the Busch-Reisinger Museum” and “Lyonel Feininger: Photographs, 1928–1939″ ran from February 26 to July 17 before traveling abroad. They represented Harvard’s extensive holdings of Feininger’s work, in particular his photographs – which had never before been exhibited.

Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) is well-known as a painter and an important contributor to the Bauhaus and German modern art. His long-term engagement with photography has never previously been explored. In the exhibition catalog for his photographic work, it is speculated that Feininger did not pursue photography more publicly because of his sons’ enthusiasm for the medium. Both of Feininger’s sons, Andreas and T. Lux made careers as photographers and writers on photography.

Harvard’s Feininger Microsite is the first widely accessible presentation of Feininger’s photography and it represents an enormous asset to Feininger researchers and enthusiasts. The content of the site was compiled and by Nathan J. Timpano (2009–2010 Stefan Engelhorn Curatorial Fellow, Busch-Reisinger Museum) and the commentary and biographical information is drawn from the exhibition catalog organized byLaura Muir (assistant curator, Busch-Reisinger Museum). The site allows users to search the collection by text, title, object number, date range, medium, subject and/or creation place. Additionally, given the low-profile nature of this collection and the presumed unfamiliarity of the user, the site offers an extremely useful feature wherein they can browse characteristic slideshows of prominent subjects within the collection. These include, ‘art documentation’, ‘Bauhaus’, ‘Trips to California’, ‘New England’ and ‘shop windows’ among others. Each of these subject slide shows bears an informational excerpt about the work presented. The site is smartly designed, easy to use, and the photographs are breathtaking.

With the Feininger exhibitions, catalog, and research microsite, Harvard has presented an interesting model where artistic collections, archival resources, and resident experts have been brought together to steward, curate, publish and develop new tools that act as both promotional tools for the museum and research tools for the University.

The Doodle Revolution

If you ever find yourself doodling during class or in a meeting, don’t feel

17 Ideas for Content Creation, by Veronica Maria Jarski

guilty. According to Sunni Brown, it’s one of the most productive things you can be doing. An avid visual literacy advocate, Sunni is best known for large-scale strategic doodles and Gamestorming, a book that outlines visual thinking techniques for business. She is also a TED speaker and conversationalist.

The Doodle Revolution website features examples of large scale doodles done organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and TEDGlobal 2011 in Edinburgh, as well as a toolkit, information on bootcamps and webinars, and a doodle showcase. I found the toolkit to be especially informative, as it contains lists of books, videos, articles, and slides that direct users to more information on visual thinking and visual literacy. While I have been thinking of visual literacy in terms of interpreting meaning from an object that someone else, such as Jacob Riis, has created, I neglected to realize that one’s own ‘doodles’ can be important forms of scholarship and communication.