– the ‘Art Genome’?

A newly launched website,, has as its mission to make all of the world’s art available to anyone with an internet connection. The website is powered by The Art Genome Project, a collaboration between art historians and computer scientists which studies the characteristics that distinguish and connect works of art. The technology behind it is mostly open source, and for those interested in the techie side of it, the Engineering Blog has all the information one could possibly need. The important part, however, is that The Art Genome is a giant taxonomy of art-related concepts. There has been some controversy about the way the project relates artists and artworks – some artists are unhappy about how their work is being categorised-, but the scale of the work, and the combination of art-historical research and computer science is fascinating, and it will be interesting to see whether, as the project grows, the genomes and the relationships they establish between artists and artworks continue to be as meaningful.

The site is particularly strong on contemporary art. Looking at their Browse categories, one can look at artworks by style, contemporary art, subject, medium or technique, and region. Clicking on Conceptualism produces 2,516 results, with artists as varied as Tracey Emin and Ai Wei Wei. The quality of the images is excellent and, although the site’s licensing agreements with their artwork image providers do not allow for image downloads, simply browsing through the site is a great way of learning about art. is also establishing collaborations with contemporary artists, such as this short video of artist Cai Guo Qiang’s work, Sky Ladder. is certainly a project to watch, and a great source of inspiration for art students.


New DVDs September 2012

The new DVD titles acquired by NCAD Library over the summer include landmark television series, family entertainment, classic cinema, edgy new films, and thought-provoking documentaries. This is a selection of twenty of our most recent acquisitions.

Ladislas Starewicz’s animated film in the Internet Archive

Władysław Starewicz (Moscow 1882 – Fontenay-sous-Bois 1965) was a Russian-born animator of Polish parents, who moved to France after the Soviet Revolution of 1917. His stop-motion animation work is imaginative, surreal, daring, and technically highly accomplished, especially since it was made long before the era of CGI. The Internet Archive now has a complete version of one of his best known films, The Mascot. It is the poignant story of a little dog puppet who goes through all sorts of dangers to give an orange to a little girl dying of scurvy. The film was listed by Terry Gilliam as one of the 10 best animated films of all time.

Watch The Mascot

Photos from Kodak’s Picture Contests

Still Life. 1929

Photos from Kodak’s Picture Contests in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s –

Here at the Visual Resources Centre we love old black and white photographs. This post from the New York Times “Lens” blog talks about the fantastic collection of photographs submitted to “Kodak Picture Contests” during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, which are now kept in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation of the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester in New York State. The post has a  slide show  of some of the most interesting photos, and explains the background to those picture contests: Kodak was trying to encourage consumers to buy their cameras and film stock by organising the contests. It is a bit shocking to realise that at present the company are under bankruptcy protection.

The photographs are a fascinating record of life in the United States, and also some other parts of the world, during these three decades. Specially interesting are photographs of New York in the 1930s. The variety of subjects, and the technical competence of these amateur photographers are impressive. One could consider this archive of photographs from Kodak contests as an older and smaller equivalent of Flickr, recording everyday life of that period in all its richness.

Drawing Pictures

Drawing Pictures: A short course on the History of animation

Our very own James Armstrong is teaching this short course on film animation at the Irish Film Institute. The course includes screenings of animated films such as “Pinocchio”, “Paprika” and “A scanner darkly”. It is an enjoyable opportunity to learn more about animated films.

Art of the Title

Have you ever wanted to see a film’s title sequence over and over again, just to enjoy the fabulous graphic design and the anticipation of what is to come? “Artofthetitle” is a blog that allows one to do just that. They describe themselves as “A compendium and leading web resource of film and television title design from around the world”. You can view many great title sequences, read interviews with the film directors and graphic designers who created them, and be kept up to date with film news. A great resource for all you graphic designers out there…

DVDs on Painting and Drawing

The Visual Resources Centre has a substantial collection of DVDs on painting and drawing, both documentaries and feature films. The following is a selection of our highlights. We welcome your recommendations for DVD titles about other artists and artistic periods.

Christmas suggestions from the Visual Resources Centre

It’s that time of the year again, and we know that after a filling Christmas meal, all you want to do is sit on the sofa and watch a good movie for the next two hours. So we have a few suggestions for films that you can borrow for the Christmas period from our video collection: comedies, classic movies, thrillers, documentaries, children’s films…there is a little here for every taste. Enjoy!

New DVDs November 2011

The new titles added to the DVD Library in November are a mixture of classic films, hard-hitting documentaries, and stylish thrillers. This is a selection:

Horror films in the NCAD Visual Resources

Even after Halloween is over, there are those of you who still like a good fright. The Visual Resources Centre has a great -and growing!- collection of horror films, both mainstream blockbusters and more obscure cult films by great horror directors such as Mario Bava and Dario Argento. They are interesting not only for entertainment purposes, but also as great sources of inspiration for costume and set design, cultural studies, and many other subjects. Here is a list of some of our highlights: