Review of AICT: Art Images for College Teaching

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AICT: Art Images for College Teaching

I am tempted to limit this review to one sentence: this is the image resource you have been looking for. As AICT describes itself on its homepage, it is "a royalty-free exchange resource for the educational community." As such it is well within the original concept of the Internet as a resource available to any and all users. But BMERR expects more of its reviewers than one sentence. AICT is quite simply an extraordinary site which provides images of sculpture, architecture, architectural ornament, and some painting for non-commercial use. The site organizes the images into five chronological and cultural groups which are in turn further divided into sub-categories. For example, the Ancient World comprises the Ancient Near East, Ancient Egypt, Art of the Aegean, Greek: Archaic, Greek: Classical and Hellenistic, Greek: Figure Sculpture, and Roman Art and Architecture. To date the Ancient World includes 188 images, each available in three sizes and degrees of detail.

In form and content AICT is a pleasure to use. The organization is logical and elegant, and navigational aids are never very far away. One first selects a period, then the desired sub-category. There the user sees a series of thumbnails which, when clicked on, lead to a larger image complete with further documentation. From that image the user can click to see a full screen image suitable for closer study. At top and bottom navigational arrows move the user from page to page and section to section. In addition, buttons across the bottom allow the user to move at once to other useful pages such as "Tech Help" and "Textbook Concordance."

The Textbook Concordance makes AICT especially useful for teaching. The site indexes its images in terms of where they occur in a selection of the most frequently used undergraduate art history texts. Each page of an image includes what AICT describes as a "reverse concordance" which indicates where the image appears in each of the textbooks included in the concordance. Thus a student can study the image at the AICT site but can also refer to a discussion of it in his or her textbook. The list of textbooks in the concordance includes Adams, A History of Western Art, Gardner, Gardner's Art through the Ages, Gombrich, The Story of Art, Janson, History of Art, Stockstad, Art History, and many more.

AICT was intended to provide images for educational use. As such, images may be printed or down-loaded as digital files (instructions for doing this are included). In fact, the images come from an extensive collection of Kodak Photo-CDs. Institutions and individuals may make arrangements to borrow entire disks from which they may download images into their own institutional or personal files for non-commercial use. Duplicate slides of the electronic images may also be acquired. AICT also urges individuals who hold the rights to images which might be of interest to scholars and students to make those images available to the public through AICT.

I have few regrets about this site. I do wish there were more images in it and that there were more examples of painting. The site makes no pretense at providing an exhaustive overview of each period, however, and will undoubtedly continue to grow. Many of the photographs are black and white, but they are of professional quality, sharp and well lighted. The thumbnails can be slightly misleading at first because they represent only small parts of what will be more substantial images on the next page. At the moment the 18th through 20th century link does not appear to be working. The comprehensiveness of the sub-categories varies widely, although in most cases one could use the site to teach world art, certainly ancient art, and not feel compelled to add a great many other images except for painting and mosaics. I have used the ancient images in a Greek and Roman sculpture class with very good results, especially because students could download the images they needed to prepare their own web pages for in-class presentations. AICT is what many of us have been looking for: an intelligent site of carefully selected, sharp images which can be used for educational purposes without the restriction of copyright. I look forward to watching this site grow.

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