New DVDs at the Visual Resources Centre

Since the summer, the Visual Resources Centre has been busy adding new titles to our collection of DVDs. Below is a selection of the most interesting. To find more details about each film, click on its thumbnail.

Glasgow School of Art Digitization Project

An early publication by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and other contemporaries connected with the Glasgow School of Art is now available in digital form through VADS, the U.K.’s Visual Arts Data Service. The publication, entitled The Magazine, was handwritten and circulated among Mackintosh and his circle. It consists of four volumes of poetry, essays and illustrations in different media, including pen and ink, watercolour, photogravure and etching, published between 1893 and 1896.

The digitization project developed when the GSA’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh collection was named as a Recognised Collection of National Importance by Museums Galleries  Scotland in 2009. The GSA received £36,988 in recognition grant funding, and this allowed the School to provide conservation for the four volumes of the magazine, and to digitize them with the aim of minimising further damage to their fragile contents.

The entire digitized contents are available for download for educational and research purposes from the VADS collection Glasgow School of Art: The Magazine.

Free digital content from museums

In recent months, several international museums have opened up their digital collections to allow downloads of high resolution images of their artworks. These are some of the best known examples:

Goodbye to Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen, the genius of visual effects, died on May 7th in London at the age of 92. He will be remembered for his cutting-edge stop-motion animation film monsters, which inspired a generation of film makers including Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, George Lucas and Peter Jackson.

Harryhausen was born Raymond Frederick Harryhausen in Los Angeles in 1920, and from an early age he had an interest in dinosaurs and mythical creatures. When he saw the 1933 version of King Kong, he was inspired to pursue a career in film model animation. He built his models by hand, and filmed them one frame at a time, which gave his animated sequences an unparalleled sense of reality.

The Visual Resources Centre at NCAD has one of Harryhausen’s best known films, Jason and the Argonauts, which includes a famous animated sequence involving an army of living skeletons. According to its creator, the sequence took three months to film.  Our library also stocks Tony Dalton’s book The art of Ray Harryhausen, published by Aurum in 2005.

For more information about Ray Harryhausen, see the Guardian’s Harryhausen obituary.

Video art in the NCAD Visual Resources Centre

NCAD Library has a growing collection of DVDs on video art. They include several anthologies of video works by international artists, as well as DVDs by individual artists. The following is a list of some of our most interesting titles. You can find a more comprehensive list here.

Surveying the first decade: Video art and alternative media in the U.S. 1968-1980. F529-F536. An extraordinary two-volume, eight-program series on the history of experimental and independent video in the U.S. It is organised in broad themes such as “Explorations of Presence, Performance, and Audience”, “Investigations of the Phenomenal World: Space, Sound, and Light” or “Gendered Confrontations”, and it includes artists such as Dan Graham, John Baldessari, William Wegman, Bruce Nauman, Joan Jonas, Gary Hill, Bill Viola, Linda Benglis and Martha Rosler. It should be compulsory viewing for anyone interested in video art. D694-D705. This is a project carried out by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, in which a seven-strong jury selected 59 video artworks produced and/or exhibited in Germany from the 1960s to 2004. The collection includes German and international artists such as Joseph Beuys, Marina Abramovic, Richard Wilson, Harun Farocki, Nam June Paik and even Samuel Beckett.

Point of View: an anthology of the moving image. D706-D718. This collection, produced by the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, features eleven leading artists working in film, video, and digital imagery today: Francis Alys, David Claerbout, Douglas Gordon, Gary Hill, Pierre Huyghe, Joan Jonas, Isaac Julien, William Kentridge, Paul McCarthy, Pipilotti Rist, and Anri Sala. Each DVD features a newly-commissioned work; an in-depth interview with the artist conducted by Dan Cameron, senior curator for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist of the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, or Richard Meyer, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, University of Southern California; an image library of the artist’s previous work; and bibliographical material.

Hard head: videos by Mounir Fatmi. D789. Mounir Fatmi is a Moroccan artist working in Paris, whose artworks focus on political, religious and current affairs issues. Hard head is a compilation of 8 video works created between 1999 and 2008, which uses playful language inspired by Islamic art, the Koran and European authors such as Artaud and Montesquieu, to blur notions of identity and chronology.

Michael Fortune: An anthology of Others. D958-D965. Michael Fortune is an Irish artist based in rural County Wexford, whose work explores the relationships between the people and circumstances he encounters. In much of his video work the camera remains static, and all evidence of the documenter or narrator is removed.

Bill Viola: Hatsu Yume: Bill Viola is an internationally acclaimed video artist who uses video to explore sensory perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His works focus on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness—and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. In Hatsu Yume, Viola fuses a personal observation of Japanese culture with a metaphysical contemplation of life, death and nature, achieved through a symbolic exploration of video’s relation to light and reflection.

The National Review of Live Art (NRLA) Archive

The NRLA archive is a new resource for students of live and performance art, created and housed in the Theatre Collection at the University of Bristol. The archive documents the NRLA Festival, offering over 1900 audio-visual files which cover the festival from 1986 until its final year in 2010. As well as videos of the performances themselves, the archive includes tapes of installations, discussions and interviews with participating artists.

Only authorised users, i.e. those who have had their site registration approved by the administrators, can access the files in the archive. However, after the initial 48-hour registration period, online access is very straightforward. The free text keyword search box finds content by searching file titles, and the artist drop-down list allows users to find material by artist name. One can also search by festival year, or entering the name of contributors.

As part of the digitization projects for the archive, the NRLA team created the Performance Arts Data Structure or PADS, a customised data tool that  “unites documentation of a performance artwork produced in different media and any objects that remain: for instance, videos, props/objects used, costume/clothing, material residues, photographic stills, interviews (with artist(s), producer/curator and audience members), transcripts or notes, script, diagrammatic scores, production plans and publicity.”

Through PADS, users can explore the links between the overall concept of the work, the various concrete versions of it, and any other resources associated with, creating a much more comprehensive understanding of any particular piece of live art.

In addition, the NRLA archive is not only a passive tool that allows users to view the resources. It also offers other capabilities, such as the ability to annotate specific clips within a larger video, and to connect different files within the archive. These annotations and connections appear in the user’s own workspace, which is accessible after login. Users can also link external resources, such as youtube videos, to existing files. These capabilities make the NRLA Archive a powerful educational tool, and a resource for artists to manage their own material.

The NRLA archive includes the work of Irish artists who participated in the NRLA festival through the years such as Michelle Browne, Alastair MacLennan, Anne Seagrave, and Aine Philips, and this makes it a particularly relevant resource for NCAD students.

Visual Resources in 2012

Happy New Year and welcome to the NCAD VR weblog. 2012 was a very fruitful year for anything related to visual resources for art and design education, both at NCAD and in the world at large. A number of projects expanded the availability of digital images and media for use in education, helping both students and lecturers find the material they need more easily. This post summarises some of those developments of the past year.

The Creative Commons Search: Creative Commons is “a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools”. Their Search allows users to find content that can be freely shared and re-used, through image and media sites such as Europeana, Google Images, Flickr, YouTube, and Wikimedia Commons, from one single interface. CC Search can also be added as a plugin to one’s browser, making the business of finding the right images for a lecture or class project that much easier.

ARTstor Additions: ARTstor continues to expand its digital image content, and has recently focused more on contemporary art and architecture. Among the new collections incorporated into ARTstor in 2012 are the following:

NCAD subscribes to the ARTstor Digital Library. For an introduction to the ARTstor database, see the NCAD Image Libraries  page or contact The Visual Resources Centre in the Library.

BMW Tate Live 2012: Performance Room: Through this project, the Tate Gallery commissioned four artists to perform in Tate Modern’s Performance Room. The performances were broadcast live through the Tate’s YouTube Channel, and are now also available as archive footage to view freely online. The four artists commissioned to perform live in 2012 were Jerome Bel, Pablo Bronstein, Emily Roysdon, and Harrell Fletcher. The series will continue in 2013, starting with Suzanne Lacy’s Silver Action performance on February 3rd between 10 am and 4 pm. By making these events freely available online, Tate Modern is providing an invaluable resource for artists and educators alike.

Google Art Project: This project is a collaboration between Google and 151 museums in 40 countries worldwide, which started in 2011, and expanded considerably in 2012. Using a combination of Google technology and the individual museums’ art expertise, “users can explore a wide range of artworks at brushstroke level detail, take a virtual tour of a museum and even build their own collections to share.” The project is currently making over 30,000 artworks and buildings available, and will continue to grow. Although the images cannot be printed, they can be used for educational purposes. In addition, one thousand project images are now available for download in Wikimedia Commons, and can be used for classroom presentations and assignments.

More Museums Offering Free Digital Images for Education: 2012 saw an expansion in the number of museums worlwide who are opening their collections to the public online by offering high-resolution digital images of thousands of their artworks. These include the Rijksmuseum’s Rijksstudio, which offers high-resolution images of 125,000 artworks from their collection; the Prado Museum’s Online Gallery, which allows access to over 1000 high-resolution images; the British Museum’s Collection Database Search, which provides free access to over 700,000 images of objects from the museum, allowing free downloads for educational use and scholarly publication; the National Gallery of Art’s NGA Images, which “offers more than 22,000 open access digital images up to 3000 pixels each, available free of charge for download and use”; or The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which has made over 18,000 digital images of artworks in its collection available for download from Wikimedia Commons. Since many of these museums are funded through people’s taxes, these initiatives to share their collections more widely are particularly welcome.

Suggestions for Christmas 2012

To continue with our new annual tradition, here is a selection of children’s movies, comedies, thrillers, world cinema, musicals, classic films and documentaries from our growing collection of DVDs in the Visual Resources Centre to cheer you up during the Christmas break. As usual, all NCAD staff and students can borrow up to six films over the holidays. Come and borrow early so you won’t be disappointed. Happy viewing!

Visual Resources for VISCOM Students

Visual Communication students can find several titles and databases in the Visual Resources Centre which are relevant to your course, including:

DVDs: The Library has a collection of over 2000 DVD titles, including documentaries on all aspects of art and design, as well as feature films. The following titles are particularly relevant for the VISCOM curriculum:

Titles about graphic design and typography

Gary Hustwit: Helvetica (U.K., 2007)

Feature films with title sequences by famous designers such as Saul Bass:

Alfred Hitchcock: North by Northwest (U.S., 1959)
Martin Scorsese: Goodfellas

ARTstor: A vast collection of over one million digital images of all periods of art and design. You can find the NCAD guide to using ARTstor here.

ARTstor has several collections which are relevant to VISCOM, including the Graphic Design and Illustration Collection, which has over 13,000 images, and the Graphic Design collection at MOMA, with over 2,000 images.

NCAD Image Library: Our own local collection of digital images used by NCAD lecturers. You can find a guide to the NCAD Image Library here.

To browse images related to visual communication, select Graphic Design (Visual Communication) from the Classification drop-down list, and click on Find.

Visual Resources for CORE year students

The Visual Resources Centre has DVDs and image databases which can be of great help when finishing studio assignments or writing essays. This is a sample of some of them:

ARTstor: A database with over one million images of all periods in the history of art and design. You can find our own NCAD user guide to ARTstor here. To see examples of artworks in the ARTstor database, click on Browse>Featured Groups>Art history topics, and also in the CORE folder within NCAD’s institutional folders, which can be found in Open image group>Institutional folders>CORE. ARTstor is a great source of inspiration for all your studio projects, well worth a try.

NCAD Digital Image Library: A database of over 7000 images digitised for NCAD lectures. the collection is strong on contemporary art and Irish artists. You can find a user guide for the NCAD Digital Image Database here.

DVDs: Our DVD collection has titles for everyone’s taste, including:

DVDs on specific artists, such as Salvador Dalí or Marcus Coates

Television series on all aspects of art

Documentaries on almost anything, from extraordinary animals to extraordinary humans


And, of course, movies, movies, and more movies….


To find titles from the DVD collection in the NCAD Library Catalogue, key in the word ‘videorecording’. This will give you a list of everything we have in DVD form.