With Open Eyes
With Open Eyes: Images From the Art Institute of Chicago (The Voyager Co.) uses 200+ works from the different collections in this important institution as the foundation for a mini-course in art appreciation. Recognizing its audience, it avoids many of the problems common to art titles – excessively complex navigation, a knack for pedantic content, and the attempt to cover everything (often at the cost of covering nothing well). Here, the primary goal is to excite children about art while not overwhelming them with too much of any one thing. While the content is limited, the selection criteria is broad, and what is presented exposes children to works as varied as an Indian prayer sculpture, a Lewis Carroll photograph, and paintings by Picasso and Seurat. The disc provides interesting information about each work, as well as appropriate musical accompaniment and spoken blurbs. The various (and amusing) icons which border the images provide a number of ways to explore. Click on the Frog and the program will begin hopping randomly among art works, or use the map to view a specific work, organized by country; click on the Mouth for an audio explanation and an enlarged view; click on the Magnifier to zoom in on specific parts of the work, or click on the Watch for a timeline. One of our favorite features is the Ruler, which brings up an image of the artwork in a “virtual gallery,” replete with human visitors for size comparison. For those who prefer to forgo the interactive possibilities, there’s always the option of selecting Mr. Potato Head, which sets a slide show in motion while you relax on your virtual couch. There are games and puzzles based on the pieces, adding to the fun. With Open Eyes doesn’t pretend to be a complete tour of the Art Institute. It’s a selective introduction, geared to a specific audience and, as such, it does a very good job.
– November 1995