Teaching Tools Library Feature: Graphics Atlas

As part of the TPS Collective Teaching Tools Library, we’ll be offering periodic feature reviews of specific items in the library that may be of use to those who teach with primary sources.

Graphics Atlas is an online resource designed to aid in the identification of specific image production technologies. It was produced by the Image Permanence Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology and can be used in three main ways: first, to examine featured objects from a variety of processes in detail; second, to compare two different featured objects; and third, to research specific production techniques to make it easier to identify them. Short videos are included as well to serve as introductions to image production and using the resource in general.

The detailed descriptions of the featured objects mean that the Graphics Atlas can be used by scholars interested in improving their ability to recognize specific techniques — a bit like a digital version of Bamber Gascoigne’s How to Identify Prints — but it can also be used as an introduction for students who are just beginning to work with image printing technology. The Graphics Atlas is not afraid to explain very fine distinctions, especially with photographic processes, and can be used to emphasize how different technologies produce slight (but noticably) results. It is a good resource to put on art and art history students’ radar, though it can be intimidating due to the depth of its detail. Librarians and faculty interested in using it during class should preface it with a short demonstration of how to make the most of it and which aspects they would like students to focus on.

This feature review was written by John Henry Adams, PhD, special collections librarian at the University of Missouri.

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