AMITIAE - Wednesday 16 July 2014

Viewing Art and Art Puzzles on iOS Devices (Bangkok Post, Life)

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By Graham K. Rogers


I visited the Art Institute of Chicago in the mid-1980s, where I was able to see Picasso's Old Guitarist, and several Impressionist works of Art. These included works by Monet as well as Seurat's magnificent, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, that took up almost an entire wall.

For those not able to visit such galleries easily, in those days there were expensive coffee-table books. People would also be able to view and perhaps borrow books from libraries. As the internet expanded, it became possible to view such works from the home. With developments in computers and hand-held devices, there are now hundreds of apps that focus on Art and artists, including Monet and Seurat.

Seurat HD
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte - Seurat

An app that I downloaded which features the Art of Seurat is from the developer Borat Kim whose iTunes App Store page shows just over 100 separate artists listed. Most of the apps are at $0.99 (32 baht) although some are free.

When the Seurat HD app is started, the user sees detail from Seurat's most famous picture and then an index is shown. This is split into Early Career, Mid Career and Final Years, with a Bookmarks section at the bottom for a user's favourites. On the iPhone the first three show a thumbnail image of a representative work from the period. The Index display is slightly different on the iPad as the image is stretched full width of the screen.

Monet HD
Westminster - Monet

I also have a couple of other apps from the same developer including Monet HD. As the Artist was more prolific, the index has 7 sections (plus Bookmarks): Paris, Argenteuil, Vétheuil & Poissy, Giverny I, II and III, and Unknown Dates.

Two Japanese artists feature in my collection with Hokusai HD and Hiroshige HD. Hokusai is perhaps best known for his series on Mount Fuji, which included the Great Wave at Kanagawa. That is included in the Mountains section. Other index items are Water, People and Plants.

Hokusai HD
Great Wave at Kanagawa - Hokusai

Hiroshige is perhaps less well-known although had a prolific output and worked at around the same time as Hokusai. He produced a number of series, including 100 views of Edo (Tokyo) and The Sixty-nine Stations of the Hokkaido (the Japanese name is different): a road to the north.

Hiroshige HD
Kawasaki Station on the Hokkaido - Hiroshige

The display of works in the apps is full-screen with no text. A description of a work is available if the screen is tapped. Depending on the work, the image may be best displayed in landscape or portrait mode. Also shown at the bottom of the screen are Back and Forward arrows, a Slideshow control and a button for music.

There is also a link to Wikipedia for more information and an Export arrow: Save to Photo, Save to Bookmarks and Send email. An example of this gave me three size options: Small (145 KB), Medium (544 KB) and Actual Size (1.1 MB).

Hiroshige HD
Totsuka, 5th Station on the Hokkaido - Hiroshige

While the Art featured in these apps is beautifully sharp on the Retina displays of the iPhone and iPad I use, these screens are not large, by design. As with other apps of this nature, I sometimes connect the iOS device to the television I have. I can do this either with the HDMI cable (which needs an adapter) or via the Apple TV, which connects using Wi-Fi.

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Art Scrambles

I was recently pointed in the direction of an interesting puzzle app that uses Art as image source: Art Scrambles. I was delighted when I started using the app, which takes a work of Art and scrambles the image. The broken pieces can be dragged around the screen and when placed in the right location, merge into the picture indicating a correct placement.

I started with a picture from Hiroshige using scrambled pieces in the shape of circles. There are two options with the circle: large and small. Other shapes include hexagons and squares: also large and small. A user is able to select the shape and size when the image first loads using an icon at the bottom of the screen.

Using the small square, the Hiroshige image of a sudden shower on a bridge, was broken into 44 pieces. The small circle and hexagon also have 44 pieces, but with these, some of the outline of the original picture is not scrambled. The larger shapes have 20 pieces and some show parts of the original image.

When a picture is first loaded, a small icon indicates if the best display is portrait or landscape. At the bottom of the screen is a circular progress indicator, an icon to show the whole picture, for when we are stuck, and an exit icon. The app comes with 11 pictures. There are 51 more sets available for purchase at $0.99 each.

This app (Art Scrambles) is an undiscovered gem and I found myself playing this for longer than I should. With the various shape options, this could also be entertaining for younger members of the family.

See also:

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. 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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2014