Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Turning Pages and the power of illustration

Turning the Pages: Peter Williams, a fellow blogger who, as a member of the Association of Roman Archaeology, also produces a web log on the topic, recently mentioned a fascinating new project by the British Library called Turning Pages.

"Turning the Pages is the award-winning interactive program that allows museums and libraries to give members of the public access to precious books while keeping the originals safely under glass. Initially developed by and for the British Library, it is now available as a service for institutions and private collectors around the world.

Turning the Pages allows visitors to virtually 'turn' the pages of manuscripts in a realistic way, using touch-screen technology and interactive animation. They can zoom in on the high- quality digitised images and read or listen to notes explaining the beauty and significance of each page. There are other features specific to the individual manuscripts. In a Leonardo da Vinci notebook, for example, a button turns the text round so visitors can read his famous 'mirror' handwriting."

I particularly enjoyed the detailed depictions of medieval life in the LUTTRELL PSALTER and the beautifully illustrated 14th century Hebrew manuscript, GOLDEN HAGGADAH.

The other day a friend and I were discussing the distressing trend of sparse illustration, especially in academic texts, and pondered whether this a result of simple economics or a growing cultural concern with "appropriate" images and various censorship movements.

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