AMITIAE - Monday 2 January 2012
Japanese Traditional Art Gallery for iPad Lite
By Graham K. Rogers
In the 1970s, I went to a book sale in Tavistock, in Britain's West Country where I picked up a charming little print that looked as if it might have been Chinese. To this day, I still do not know. In an attempt to find out, I began reading, but got sidetracked into Japanese Art and then woodblock prints (ukiyo-e). I eventually picked up a couple of these prints: one at a Christies' auction (most exciting); and another at a shop specialising in all manner of Japanese art -- pictures, swords, Samurai armour -- in Bloomsbury, near the British Library in London.
This review first appeared on AMITIAE in June 2011 and has now been revised.
Japanese Traditional Art Gallery for iPad Lite is not the best solution I have found to displaying Art on the iPad, mainly because there is zero information included with the app. There are three control to the left: Menu, Bookmark and Star (to rate the app). The simple menu has two parts: Chapter and Thumbs. That there is only one chapter suggests either that this app idea has been borrowed; or that there is more to come. I hope it is the latter, because collections of images that are easy to access, does make some sense.
Tapping on the thumbnails button in the menu system displays all the images that are included as content. As there is no downloading to do (unlike some apps) the access is instant. Tapping on a thumbnail displays the image, but the X at the top of the menu must be tapped to make the menu panel disappear, leaving just the image onscreen. This is the app's strength and its weakness.
To see these images displayed is the main aim of the app. However, for anyone coming to Japanese Art with no previous knowledge, there is no information at all as to what is being shown. I was able to identify the work of Hokusai and Utamaro as well as some of the older panels and other items, because I had bought and read several reference books in the 1970s. And in the case of the works of Hiroshige, I had also bought the prints. Perhaps, like my Tavistock purchase, someone looking at such images might be tempted to find out more, but this is not easy to do without so much as an artist's name.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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