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Mark Harden's Artchive: CD-ROM Reviews

A Stroll in 20th Century Art

A Stroll in 20th Century Art: Foundation Marguerite and Aime Maeght

Review contributed by Nick Dell'Oso

Click on the thumbnails to view the screen captures.


This CD-ROM was produced in 1995 and is a French coproduction between Matra Hachette Multimedia and Maeght Editeur. My copy was produced by Focus Multimedia in the U.K. It can install in either French or English. Click on thumbnail to view screen captureThe CD-ROM is a guide through the Maeght Foundation in Provence, France - a 20th century art museum and sculpture garden filled with a thousand or more modern art works, sculptures, fountains and even a chapel. Just a few of the artists on display here are Calder, Braque, Giacometti, Leger, Matisse, Miro, Neumann, De Stael, Tapies, Kandinsky and Soulages.Click on thumbnail to view screen capture There are many more. The video clips are nicely done and come complete with extensive sound effects - birds twittering in the trees, water splashing from fountains, wind rustling in the background, and sounds of "your" footsteps as you "walk" through the complex. Hard floor, hard shoes. The visual perspective is from the first person - it's as if you're video taping your walk through the complex. I have no objections to this at all, but some may find it not to their liking.Click on thumbnail to view screen capture There is a museum plan or diagram showing the layout of the establishment and one can click onto an area and (usually) be taken there. As you walk about the rooms or garden various works of art in that area pop up about the edges of the screen and you can find out more by clicking on them. The CD-ROM comes with a short glossary or dictionary of art terms and major artists.

The creation of an intimate and personal atmosphere is very important in this CD-ROM. While this is an "atmospheric" and quite stylish product it is also somewhat frustrating, annoying and confusing. The designers have tried too hard to be "different" in its layout and overall design. Click on thumbnail to view screen captureThe icons used to move about the various rooms and gardens of the museum and to generally navigate through the sections and features of the CD-ROM are tiny and their meaning and function obscure to say the least. There are no instructions as far as I could see - you just have to click here and there and try it all out. I found this tiring after a while, but maybe I just expect a more clearly structured and orderly approach in this type of CD-ROM. After moving my way about it for while I felt a bit disappointed.

Value is often the (sometimes uneasy) relationship between the content, the design, layout, purpose and the cost. For the price I got it (A$12/US$8) I would give it a 7 out of 10. At double that price it would drop to a 6 out of 10. One final word - it's not at all clear how to exit the program (!) - it's ALT + F4, twice. I wish they had written that somewhere!




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