Artists housed on disc;Secondary;Resource;Software

29th January 1999 at 00:00

Thames and Hudson Art CD-Roms fall into two categories: those which are entertaining and interactive, making full use of the multimedia capacity of computers, or those that contain information which is laid out more like a book.

The excellent Thames and Hudson Multimedia Dictionary of Modern Art falls into the latter category, but takes advantage of the technology to enable very speedy access to the information. Navigation is easy and intuitive.

The disc traces the work of all major 20th century artists up to 1995, so there are references to artists such as Damien Hirst and Rachel Whiteread along with less familiar names. This is extremely useful, as students need to be able to refer to contemporary artists' works.

But curiously no architects and only a few photographers appear - are they to have their own discs in future? Further-more, a few entries have no accompanying illustrations because of copyright problems.

The text is informative and succinct (not too "art historical"), using vocabulary appropriate for key stage 4 and beyond. Click on any word in the text and links will be suggested to other parts of the disc. The images are shown with text and can be clicked on for enlargement. Some can be examined in close-up. There are also audio clips of artists speaking and some videos. Although we tend to think of artists using moving images as a recent phenomenon, here are clips of film made by Man Ray and Leger from the early 1920s.

Albums, containing any of the images, can be created and saved in files for future reference and can be presented as slide shows. Any two images from the massive collection of 3,500 illustrations can be called to the screen together for easy comparison. Text can also be saved in a notebook and there is scope to add your own words.

The main drawbacks are the lack of printout facility and the small size of reproductions: this CD-Rom is best viewed on a large monitor. Nevertheless, it will be invaluable for any art department.

* Martin Child is a former art teacher

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