Mark Harden's Artchive: CD-ROM Reviews

The Renaissance of Florence

Published by E.M.M.E. Interactive
(203) 869 8144

This review and the accompanying scans were contributed by Artchive patron King-Han Gan of Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The Renaissance of Florence aims to capture some of this city's great artistic wealth. Concentrating on the fifteenth and early sixteenth century, it tells the story of the early Renaissance, roughly from Giotto to Michelangelo. The Renaissance, the rediscovery of classical styles and philosophy, started in Florence and the hills of Tuscany. This CD was originally made for the CD-I system by Philips Interactive Media. It is beautifully produced throughout but retains some of its CD-I roots. For example, most of the information is narrated, like in a TV documentary. Also, you never have to use the keyboard - it's all point and click.

The program opens onto the Grand Piazza [Screencapture]. Here you can go to History, Arts or Epilogue. Clicking on one of these will show a little documentary. Arts are divided into architecture, painting and sculpture [Screencapture]. Clicking on one of these will once again give you a documentary, and will end by showing a number of artists or buildings [Screencapture]. Clicking on one of these will again give you narrated documentaries. Individual artworks can also be viewed, but no further information is given [Screencapture].

The CD features architecture, sculpture and painting. In the architecture section we get a glimpse of Florence - many of the buildings of the 15th century still stand today. In the sculpture and painting sections a number of artists are featured in narrated sections. These sections give biographical information, taken mostly from Vasari's 'Life of Artists', and show some of the artist's most important works. There is also a catalog that features other Florentine artists, but here we see only images, without explanatory text. The CD-ROM has great production values, but is not always organised very clearly. For example, I only found out recently that clicking during a narrated section brings up the text of the narration. This text has hypertext links to information that can not be accessed otherwise. Perhaps typical of the detail contained in the CD is that clicking on the text from Vasari's Life of Artists gives you a narration - in the original Italian!

All in all an enjoyable disc. It not only shows paintings, like many art CD-ROMs, but also sculpture and architecture. Unfortunately the information is not always well organised and is therefore sometimes hard to find.

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