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Now, You Can Virtually Page Through Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebooks

October 11, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

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Digital and other New Media tools have made a great amount of books available. Many are free. It is interesting to note who the developers are.  The British Library has scanned  centuries old books including the Codex Arundel, the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci.

The Story of Leonardo’s Notebooks

From Open Culture,

“For hundreds of years, the huge, secretive collection of manuscripts remained mostly unseen by all but the most rarified of collectors. After Leonardo’s death in France, writes the British Library, his student Francesco Melzi “brought many of his manuscripts and drawings back to Italy. Melzi’s heirs, who had no idea of the importance of the manuscripts, gradually disposed of them.” Nonetheless, over 5,000 pages of notes “still exist in Leonardo’s ‘mirror writing’, from right to left.” *

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The Notebooks Digitized

“The digitized notebooks debuted in 2007 as a joint project of the British Library and Microsoft called “Turning the Pages 2.0,” an interactive feature that allows viewers to “turn” the pages of the notebooks with animations. Onscreen glosses explain the content of the cryptic notes surrounding the many technical drawings, diagrams, and schematics (see a selection of the notebooks in this animated format here). For an overwhelming amount of Leonardo, you can look through 570 digitized pages of [the] Codex Arundel here.” (OpenCulture).

The Technology Turning the Pages™ 

As this site is devoted to the uses of New Media tools to make fine art and literature accessible to everyone, everywhere, we want to write about the technology behind the Leonardo Notebooks and a great number of  other books and manuscripts. Below is a short description and a video of the technology  called “Turning Pages.”

As explained at Turning the Pages™ , it “was originally conceived in 1996 and Armadillo Systems have been developing the software since 2001, helping libraries, museums and galleries around the world provide access to their collections. The earliest books were at the British Library.”

“[The Goal was] to produce the most compelling solution for providing access and interpretation for rare books, manuscripts and single sheet items (such as maps or charters).”

“In 2006 [Armadillo Systems] worked with Microsoft to develop TTP 2.0 which produced incredibly realistic three-dimensional books, including the ability of gilding to catch the light as the pages turn and to mimic both paper and vellum books.I n 2013 [the company] launched TTP 3.0, a complete re-code for the online version, taking advantage of HTML5 to provide access to books on all browsers and devices.”

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Image Credit: British Library





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Giacometti and You – In His Studio

October 4, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

Giacometti’s Studio

“The British Arts Council’s short film above affords an intimate glimpse into Alberto Giacometti’s studio in Montparnasse circa 1965, the year when he was the subject of major retrospectives at both the Tate Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.” (OpenCulture.)

Alberto Giacometti‘s studio was described by biographer, James Lord: “The whole place looking as if it had been thrown together with a few old sticks and a lot of chewing gum … In short, a dump.”

Jeane Genet described the studio a bit more poetically:

“This ground floor studio… is going to cave in at any moment now. It is made of worm-eaten wood and grey powder…. Everything is stained and ready for the bin, everything is precarious and about to collapse, everything is about to dissolve, everything is floating…. And yet it all appears to be captured in an absolute reality. When I leave the studio, when I am outside on the street, then nothing that surrounds me is true.”

Indeed, a photograph of Giacometti outside his studio shows not only the character of the studio, but, in a way, he looks like one of his own sculptures.

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An Artist’s Studio

The environment in which an artist works may or may not be related to the actual work. Nevertheless,  there is a certain closeness to the artist in being able to see what his or her actual studio looked like. And, as in the video above, to be able to actually see the artist at work gives us an intimate look into the artist’s creative process.

Fine Art in the New Media

For fine art, the term “New Media” doesn’t have to mean the use of flashing lights, bells and whistles in an attempt to capture our concentration. Instead, the term should mean the use of media tools, both new and old, which bring us closest to the artist and the work.. Even the use of the “old media” such as photography, film, and video brings us there, but coupled with the near-universal access of the “new media,” brings all of us there.

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Photographs by Ernst Scheidegger © 2017 Stiftung Ernst Scheidegger-Archiv, Zurich.
H/T Ayun Halliday, Open Culture.












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Wes Anderson’s Debt to Stanley Kubrick Revealed in a Side-By-Side Comparison

September 27, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

Video Creator: Dante Guerilla “I own nothing in this video, except for editing the stuff together to compare the two directors.”

Kubrick/ Anderson

As written by Colin Marshall in OpenCulture,

“At first glance, it might seem hard to understand what kind of taste could possibly encompass both Kubrick and Anderson. The former made mostly complex and emotionally chilled period pieces, visually grand yet stark, tinged with grim humor, and possessing a dim view of humanity. The latter makes colorful, outwardly high-spirited comedies, sometimes even animated ones, that seem to delight in their own carefully cultivated aesthetics.”

“But both bodies of work reveal directorial minds that take cinema itself very seriously indeed. ‘”Kubrick is one of my favorites,”‘ says Anderson in an interview clip used in the video essay comparing shots from his films to shots from Kubrick’s, just above.

‘”Usually, by the time I’m making the movie, I don’t really know where I’m stealing everything from. By the time it’s a movie, I think it’s my thing, and I forget where I took it all — but I think I’m always pretty influenced by Kubrick.”‘

A Visual Comparison

The video above, in six short minutes, makes a compelling and powerful comparison between Kubrick and Anderson.

“That influence, on a visual level, does come through in this comparison, certainly in all those first-person perspectives and views through portholes, but even more so with the camera moves, especially in the tracking shots and zooms.” (OpenCulture).

Lit and Cinema – Whither The Book?

The side by side comparison in the video above by Dante Guerilla raises an interesting issue: In Literature such a side by side comparison of writings, say by Tolstoy and a “Writer like Tolstoy,” would immediately raise cries and condemnations of plagiarism.

The Visual Arts

In the cinema, as in most of the visual arts, a side by side comparison of similar work of by two different artists is treated as “influenced by.” In the age of the internet where millions (billions) of pages of content, and millions (billions) of images are available for free, the term of “influenced by” seems to be a more realistic concept for the digital age.

Book Publishers and the New Media

Indeed, numerous museums have made high-resolution images of their collections available for download for free. Museums even encourage the use of their images in whole, or in part, for the creation of new art.  Can book publishers find a way to do the same?


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Rodin, the Met, and the New Media

September 20, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

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Rodin at the MET  – September 16, 2017 – January 15, 2018


“On the centenary of the death of Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), The Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates its historic collection of the artist’s work. Nearly 50 marbles, bronzes, plasters, and terracottas by Rodin, representing more than a century of acquisitions and gifts to the Museum, are displayed in the newly installed and refurbished B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery (gallery 800). The exhibition features iconic sculptures such as The Thinker and The Hand of God, as well as masterpieces such as The Tempest that have not been on view in decades. ” (metmuseum.org)

Rodin/ the Met/New Media

The Met has made use of the tools of the New Media to make the Rodin exhibition accessible to all. For those who can visit the Met in New York, the exhibition is breathtaking. For those, however, unable to make the visit,  the Met has made it possible for everyone to see the complete exhibition. thus fulfilling the mission of making Art available to everyone, everywhere.

The Full Exhibition Online

The Met has made the full exhibition available online. Often, a museum will show only a few of the objects in an exhibition, to give the viewer a brief view, perhaps as a teaser for a visit. In the global world, the Met has realized that everyone is not able to make the visit to New York. Thus, it has chosen to put the entire easily found under the Exhibition Objects tab, and which can be enlarged to virtually bring the viewer into the presence of the work.

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among the videos made available online is one demonstrating how a one of Rodin’s bronze sculpture is cast using the Lost Wax method, produced by The musée Rodin – Paris.

Another video shows how a sculpture is made.


The Met also provides links  to The musée Rodin – Paris. to find additional resources on  (in French and English), and to the worldwide celebration of the artist’s work at Rodin100.org.

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The Met’s Rodin exhibition online has uniquely fulfilled the mission of making Art available to everyone, everywhere.


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Properly Lighting Black Faces – Cinamatographer Ava Berkofsky

September 13, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.


Ava DuVernay’s ‘Selma’ influenced the look of ‘Insecure.’ Source: Atsushi Nishijima/IMDb

The Problem

“When I was in film school, no one ever talked about lighting nonwhite people.” — Ava Berkofsky

As written by mic.com,  September 8, 2017:  “Any brown person who’s taken a selfie in the club can tell you cameras aren’t made for us. Yet in Insecure’s club scenes, dark-skinned protagonists like Yvonne Orji’s Molly continue to impress. You can thank Ava Berkofsky, the show’s director of photography, for that. Berkofsky was brought on for the show’s second season (currently airing on HBO) to give the show a more movie-like look, which includes making black faces not only legible, but striking.” (All quotes: mic.com)

The Conventional Way – IRE Units

‘“The conventional way of doing things was that if you put the skin tones around 70 IRE, it’s going to look right,”’ Berkofsky said.

“IRE, a unit used in the measurement of composite video signals (named for the initials of the Institute of Radio Engineers), ranges from 0 to 100. “If you’ve got black skin, [dialing it] up to 50 or 70 is just going to make the rest of the image look weird.” The resulting image looks very bright, Berkofsky noted, similar to what you’d see in traditional sitcoms like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

New Media Tools

“When the Arri Alexa came out, it really changed how people were shooting digital and what kind of results we could get.”


“Berkofsky said all of Insecure’s actors take light differently, but rather than putting light directly on them, she uses reflection instead. Similar to Dickerson’s use of moisturizer on the She’s Gotta Have It cast, this adds a bit of shine. ‘“Rather than pound someone’s face with light, [I] have the light reflect off them,”’ she said. ‘“I always use a white or [canvas-like] muslin, so instead of adding more light, the skin can reflect it.”’

bar sceneBar scenes, night and day, are well-lit in ‘Insecure.’ Source: HBO/Medium





“Instead of a simple whiteboard, the Insecure crew makes use of whiteboards with little LED lights inside, called S2 LiteMat 4s. For one shoot “a 1-foot-by-3-foot LiteMat at low intensity was put near [Isa] Rae’s face”‘. According to the cinematographer, “it’s reflecting on her skin rather than ‘lighting’ it.”’

“Berkofsky, in an email to Mic, also discussed the value of a filter, a polarizer: ‘“People use them when shooting glass, or cars, or any surface that intensely reflects light. The filter affects how much reflection a window, or any surface has. The same principal works with skin, and this can be a highly effective way to shape the reflected light on an actors face.”’

For You

The tech Berkofsky uses for …  proper lighting is expensive, but she has a tip dark-skinned folks can use to improve their club selfies using just their phones.

“Stand close to a soft light source and turn three quarters to the light, so that it’s not filling in everything the same way. Kind of like a Rembrandt painting.”

H/T Laura Hauschild




Will the Fine Art Print Book Survive in the New Media?

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  1. Matisse: “Decorative Figure on an Ornamental Background 1925–26; oil on canvas; 1.3 x0.98 m / 4 ft 3 in x 3 ft 3½ in This canvas celebrates the ornamental elements of Arabic culture. Matisse here disrupts a tradition of the human form as the highest subject by elevating still-life, background and decorative arts to the same level.”

    The Book

    Phaidon, a globally noted publisher has recently announced the release of a new Fine Art print book, The Art Museum.  The book is described below.

“Why buy a mere art book when you could have a museum of your own? A colossal tome that, ranging across continents, periods, and artistic approaches” —The Times

“Visit the world’s most comprehensive and compelling museum in a book – from pre-historic times to the present, – over 1,600 artworks created with the expertise of 28 art world curators and historians. “


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The Book and Fine Art in the New Media

Phaidon has thus far chosen not to produce digital versions of their Fine Art publications, taking pride in their craftmanship in producing excellent print publications. Its use of the New Media for The Art Museum is limited to the web page and a free preview download.

Pictured at the top of this post is a sample page from the book on Matisse with curatorial notes. It does not appear that Phaidon has made full use of the tools of the New Media.



 The Enhanced Fine Art E-Book

The publisher, of Great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist PaintingsArtepublishing states, “there is no museum in the world that has a better collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art than the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The very best of these works are brought together for the first time in an enhanced e-book. The book has been published by Artepublishing solely as an e-book and will not be available in printed form. The book is an outstanding work of scholarship. It is beautifully designed and intuitively interactive.”


There are scalable reproductions of nearly 200 paintings by 26 artists including such favorites as Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh; over three hours of original audio information about the artists and their paintings; and more than 500 hyperlinks to some of the best sites on the Internet to learn more about the artists and their work.

The book is an outstanding work of scholarship. It is beautifully designed and intuitively interactive. It is available on iTunes.

The book’s audio commentaries and texts are by Dr. Charles F. Stuckey, one of the world’s foremost scholars on Impressionist art. Dr. Stuckey has held senior curatorial positions at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. He has organized major exhibitions on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists including exhibitions on Monet, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec, and written monographs on Monet, Gauguin, Morisot, and Toulouse-Lautrec.

The artists in the book begin with the Salon painter, William Bouguereau, then the realists Daumier, Corot, and Millet, followed by Manet (who was an inspiration to the Impressionists though he never exhibited with them). The focus then turns to the Impressionists such as Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Cassatt, Morisot, and others; and Post-Impressionists including Gauguin, Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Seurat.

Each of the artists has least one featured painting. As part of the e-book enhancement, each painting has an audio commentary by Dr. Stuckey lasting approximately five minutes about the artist, the painting, and the context of the painting. There is also text by Dr. Stuckey about each featured painting.

A further and great feature of the enhanced e-book is that there are between 10 and 30 curated links for each artist and featured painting. These include biographies of the artist, articles about the artist, works by the artist in other museums, artist quotes, videos and even free e-books about the artist. Following the featured works are other paintings by the artist in the d’Orsay.


In a prior post, “ARE INTERACTIVE E-BOOKS ,”E+,” A NEW GENRE? we wrote that  “This book  [Great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings] is an outstanding example of what can be done in the enhanced e-book format, and an excellent example to print publishers by the Museum and Artepublishing of the tremendous power of enhanced e-books in the New Media. The book is beautifully designed, and couples art and scholarship in a way not possible in the static print and e-book methods of publication.”

September 6, 2017. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday by Jack Dziamba.



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