Picturing a Century -CD-ROM-project

Since 1988, the Department of Art Education at the University of Art and Design Helsinki (UIAH) has carried out a history project. The project has gathered a physical collection that contains children's and adolescent's art works made in schools, teaching materials and other documents on teaching. The archive contains about 30 000 children's art works. A CD-ROM, "Picturing a Century", has been produced as a study project by the Department of Art Education. Most of the material for the CD-ROM comes from the archive. Students, in various study groups, produced hypermedia segments for the CD-ROM about the history of the Finnish art teaching. The design of the user interface in the first version and its visualization was also realized by the students.

Picturing a Century CD-ROM demo was shown in 1996 at the 90th anniversary exhibition of the Finnish Art Teachers Association, where it also went through preliminary testing. In the spring of 1997 a more complete user survey was done, leading to further development of the contents and function. As the work group underwent a partial change at that time, the user interface and navigation also experienced some changes. A traditional multimedia format was abolished and an interactive and user-configurable operational model was adopted instead. As a result, the Gallery CD (forthcoming) is intended to be used both as educational material (for middle and upper grades in schools and for teacher education) and as research material in art education (for image and cultural research) since the medium offers possibilities to build different levels for various uses.

Pictures are important documents of the history of art education. In the project, we are trying to develop methods that will open up the pictures to new points of view. The multimedia software developed by Jukka Orava and Jouko Orava offers excellent technical support in analyzing picures. This software makes it possible to compare large quantities of pictures with each other. All the pictures on the CD (over 2000 objects) make up a gallery, from which the user can access pictures using key words (e.g. war, Finnish culture, gender, work, etc.), themes (man, environment, and culture, with subdivisions), visual principles, etc. The main object of the analysis is to find out how and from which different viewpoints (considered themes, above) have been depicted in the pictures made by schoolchildren in the 20th century.

Pirkko Pohjakallio


The Entry Foyer

The user of the Picturing a Century CD-ROM demo first enters an imaginary space, an 'entry foyer'. It has five doors leading to five classrooms, each representing a different period of the twentieth century. A noisy group of students from various periods is running around in the foyer. Uno Cygnaeus, the father of Finland's elementary school system, is also there, flying around with a flag on his shoulders. In the foyer there is also a gallery, where the user can access all the pictures on the CD done by schoolchildren in the different periods. A file drawer contains information about the pictures and other documents.


The First Classroom of the Picturing a Century CD-ROM demo

In the demo, the classrooms are still visually unfinished. The first classroom was patterned after a small rural school made of wood. By clicking on icons in the classroom, the user can access small segments of history from the early 20th century, segments dealing with teaching methods, and the gallery. By clicking on the 'work site' icon made for the demo, the user can get information on all the things yet to be included in the first classroom.


The Gallery on the Picturing a Century CD-ROM demo

Two pictures done by optimistic schoolchildren right after the war.


The Helping Hand from the Picturing a Century CD-ROM demo

Whenever the user wants, the helping hand and the filmstrip between the fingers can be accessed by pointing to the lower edge of the screen. By clicking on the filmstrip icons, the user can return to the place in question on the CD. The background image is from the segment that deals with the methods of teaching drawing in the last century. The user can draw different designs (by using the Stuhlmann method, for example), get information on reasons for the methods, and see examples.


Preview of the user interface on the Gallery CD

The Gallery CD has an interactive environment for analyzing images even in large quantities. Here is a small demo of the environment, without any actual tools. You need the Macromedia Shockwave plug-in; download it from http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/.