Historical Issues #2: Soviet Film

There are such treasures hiding in the stacks, and really, they don’t make journal covers like they used to.  I coincidentally found these journals the same week that the Russian Film Symposium is happening in Pittsburgh, so I knew it was fated that I should share some of the images.

Soviet Film cover 1978 number 10

1978:no. 10 (257) Actor Oleg Yankovsky

Soviet Film 1978 number 9

1978:no. 9 (256): Actress Svetlana Toma

Soviet Film 1977 number 8

1977:no. 8 (243): Komaki Kurihara and Yuri Solomin in “Melodies of the White Night”, a Soviet-Japanese co-production.

Soviet Film 1976 number 11

1976:no. 11 (234): Sergei Bondarchuk on location during the shooting of “Steppe” based on the story of the same title by Anton Chekhov.

Soviet Film 1975 number 8

1975:no.8 (219): Actress Natalia Varley

Soviet Film 1972 number 2

1972:no.2 (177): Asanali Ashimov, the Kazakh actor who played in “Crossroad”, “The End of the Ataman,” “Kyz-Zhibek”

Soviet Film 1975 number 4

1975:no.4 (215): Film actress Ludmila Gurchenko (“Carnival Night”, “Girl with a Guitar”, “Baltic Sky”, “Factory Town”, “Open Book”, “Vaniushin’s Children”, “Old Walls”, and others)

Soviet Film 1972 number 1

1972:no.1 (176): the Ukrainian actress Larisa Kadochnikova

Soviet Film 1969 number 7

1969:no.7 (146): Actress Tatyana Doronina

Sorry about the weird image quality.  If anyone knows how to fix that or make it so the scanner doesn’t put those wavy lines in, please tell me for next time!

See also: my previous “Historical Issues” posts

(I provide a link because, for some reason, WordPress insists on the “Filed Under” link below not linking just to my blog, but to the entire world. psh.)


Historical Issues #1: the international women’s movement

WIDF publications in 6 languages

At work last week my world was illuminated by the appearance of some decrepit yet lovely issues of Women of the Whole World, the journal of the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF). According to a UN Chronicle article on the history of the struggle for women’s rights, “the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), established in Paris in late 1945 with an anti-fascist, left-feminist orientation, was the third major international women’s organization involved in the UN.” In her article “From Rosie the Riveter to the Global Assembly Line:
American Women on the World Stage
“, Leila Rupp mentions that the launch of the WIDF “challenged the traditional transnational women’s organizations such as the International Council of Women, the International Alliance of Women, and the WILPF and competed with them at the United Nations over who really represented the world’s women.” For a description of the WIDF as it exists today, see this 2008 interview with the organization’s president.

Women of the Whole World was published in 6 languages (as illustrated above, in an image from the History section of the current WIDF website). My library owns issues of this journal from 1952-1990, but I only had contact with issues from 1957-1969. I was struck by the snazzy cover images; something about them just caught my eye, and I wanted to scan all of them because of how striking they are as a collection. Unfortunately I could only scan a few. Work to do, etc. The cover images of this journal form a diverse and rather artistic snapshot of women from that time period. In the 1950s the covers usually featured children, but for most of the 1960s the images are like those below. I wish these journals could be digitized. Aside from the interesting cover images (which might only be interesting to me) their content would be relevant to scholars of 20th century progressive movements, communism, international politics, and women’s history.

There are some archival collections of WIDF documents, but I don’t know how to find out if anyone has digitized them, actually. It’s possible…but is there some sort of search engine for such things (other than Google)? If libraries don’t create records for their digital collections and submit them to something like WorldCat, the only other thing I know to do is to look for subject portals or webliographies and hope I get lucky. All I found was that you can search the text of some of the issues via the HathiTrust, but full view isn’t available because of copyright. Google has some of the issues from the 1980s-90s available just with snippet view. And for some reason many of them are categorized under “Health and Fitness”. :-/

The captions below are those that were included in the original issue of the journal.

women of the world cover image no1 1960
1960: no. 1. “The new advancement of women resulting from the last fifty years of struggles and successes is admirably personified in this young chinese woman worker. Throughout the entire world women have access to or are fighting for access to every field of public, economic, and social life of their country. Their numbers are particularly great in the field of production and in this regard China has shown the most spectacular example of recent years.”

women of the world cover image no3 1960
1960: no. 3. “Ursula Blau, 23, graduate in agriculture, is the youngest deputy in the German Democratic Republic. Since 1956 she has been one of those in charge of a nationalised agricultural enterprise, and has been busy with the training of apprentices.”

women of the world cover image no3 1962
1962: no 3. “This Korean girl was a member of the folk song and dance ensemble of the Korean People’s Democratic Republic at the World Youth Festival in Moscow in 1957.”

women of the world cover image no4 1962
1962: no. 4. “Dimitra Georgesco is a leading worker of the spinning mill “Romineasca de Bumbac” in Bucharest (Rumanian People’s Republic).”

women of the world cover image no5 1963
1963: no.5. “The young actress Margit Bara, of the Hungarian People’s Republic, is part of the Budapest National Theatre troupe. She was also the star of numerous films some of which have received favourable mention in various international festivals.”

women of the world cover image no12 1963
1963:no.12. “Maria Han-Nandaundo of Angola.”

women of the world cover image no2 1964
1964: no 2. “This young Guatemalan student was part of her country’s delegation to the World Congress of Women.”

women of the world cover image no8 1964
1964: no 8. “Mrs. Lambrakis is the widow of the Greek peace fighter, Gregoris Lambrakis assassinated by fascists in May 1963. Thanking the World Peace Council when they presented her with the Gold Medal (posthumously awarded to her husband) Mrs. Lambrakis said:

‘As a wife and mother, who has suffered the terrible blow of seeing her husband assassinated, I wish to raise my voice from this great platform to people of the world, above all to every woman and mother not to stand by passively, but to play their part in the endeavours to preserve peace, so that their homes and their children, and the homes and children of all countries, may be spared the very real disaster threatening the whole world.'”

As the title of this post indicates, I might try to make a series of blog posts out of the interesting historical tidbits I will inevitably find while working with the periodicals collection. Maybe/hopefully. But not with scans every time. Because that is TIME CONSUMING.

desktop wallpapers #1

i’m always really excited when it’s time to pick a new desktop wallpaper. so i figured why not share in case someone else wants to enjoy? i frequently use the stock photo site sxc.hu because i like the hierarchical categories they offer for browsing. sometimes i use flickr, of course. both of these images came from stock.xchng though.

August wallpaper part 1 (when i was still into summer)

three colors of tile form a wave pattern
by user Ale_Paiva

August wallpaper part 2 (when i am eagerly anticipating fall)

golden light in ancient window alcoves
by user bitan310

note: if you sign up for a free account with stock.xchng you can get large image files that you can use in ways that don’t violate the posted restrictions. like for personal enjoyment.

visualizing the LCSH, weeks 50 & 51

150 Educational films [May Subd Geog] [sp2001000481]
* 680 This heading is used as a topical heading for works about films that are intended to impart knowledge and information, including those for classroom viewing. Works about films designed to impart skills or techniques to general audiences, typically in a “how‑to” manner, are entered under Instructional films. When used as topical headings they are subdivided by the appropriate geographic, topical, and/or form subdivisions.

150 Gymnastics for boys [May Subd Geog] [sp2009008865]
* 550 BT Gymnastics for children CANCEL
* 550 BT Sports for children

(New York Times image attributed to Frederic J. Brown)

150 Machinery in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009009670]
053 PN1995.9.M18
550 BT Motion pictures

151 NGC 300 (Galaxy) [sp2009009615]
667 This heading is not valid for use as a geographic subdivision.
451 UF Dun 530 (Galaxy)
451 UF GC 169 (Galaxy)
451 UF H 2359 (Galaxy)
451 UF NGC300 (Galaxy)
550 BT Spiral galaxies

(image from nasa.gov)

150 Peddlers and peddling in art CANCEL
150 Peddlers in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp 85099130]
450 UF Peddlers and peddling in art [EARLIER FORM OF HEADING]

(“Marchand d’abat-jour, rue Lepic” – Eugène Atget. albumen print (c.1900) from the George Eastman House collection on Flickr.)

150 Precarious employment [May Subd Geog] [sp2009008937]
680 Here are entered works on labor that is poorly paid, unregulated, and lacks job
450 UF Employment, Precarious
550 BT Labor

Gus Powell – from “Voetganger Amsterdam” series
for now I went with a more literal interpretation of “precarious”.

150 Absence in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009009505]
550 BT Motion pictures

150 Ceilings—Decoration [May Subd Geog] [sp2009010550]
550 BT Decoration and ornament

(a picture of a ceiling at the Library of Congress, from my Flickr)

150 Corn—Utilization [May Subd Geog] [sp 86004524]
* 681 Example under Plants, Useful CANCEL
* 681 Example under Plants, Useful; Wildlife utilization

(vintage postcard from Jasperdo’s Flickr photostream)

(USA Today article)
I have actually been to the Corn Palace!

150 Rock musicians in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009010571]

(both illustrations by Max Dalton. “Guitar Lessons” discovered via World Famous Design Junkies)

interesting LCSHs for December

From the Library of Congress weekly lists for December 2 and 9, 2009.

Aggressiveness in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009009189]

Andy Kehoe – “Kick Us When We’re Down

Androids in literature [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009009278]
Philip K. Dick’s website has a fun gallery of cover images from all the various versions of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

androids japan cover

Architecture photographers [May Subd Geog] [sp2009009076]

Kim Høltermand“Monolith”

150 Crime in music [sp2009009410]
680 Here are entered works on the depiction of crime in musical compositions. General works on the relationship between crime and music are entered under Music and crime.
550 BT Music
681 Notes under Music and crime

150 Heroines in dance [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009009518]
550 BT Dance

150 Landscapes in music [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009009236]
680 Here are entered works on the depiction of natural landscapes in musical
550 BT Music

Mood films [Not Subd Geog] [sp2008025676]
680 This heading is used as a genre/form heading for films that emphasize a mood or
atmosphere rather than a plot.
555 BT Fiction films
The record for the above heading indicates that there’s a genre of Japanese fiction film to which the term “mood film” has been applied. A friend suggested that something like Wavelength might be considered a “mood film”. However, it also seems to be a common term in the advertising field, where it refers to things like this. According to NTC’s Dictionary of Advertising, 2nd ed, a “mood commercial” is a “commercial message designed to establish a particular atmosphere.” Or perhaps a commercial that encourages you to match your fridge to your mood?

Odeon of Agrippa (Athens, Greece) [sp2009008379]
410 UF Agrippa, Odeon of (Athens, Greece)
410 UF Agrippeion (Athens, Greece)
410 UF Ōdeio tou Agrippa (Athens, Greece)
410 UF Odeion of Agrippa (Athens, Greece)
410 UF Odeum of Agrippa (Athens, Greece)
550 BT Theaters—Greece

Odeon of Agrippa
image from http://www.agathe.gr/guide/

The Athenian Agora Excavations website from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens is a lovely example of how archaeological data can be digitized and presented in a clear, interesting way. Also, check out the catalog card on this page. And I thought library catalog cards were messy…

I’m including this next one not because I’m a Potter fan, but because I find it bizarre and amusing that there was probably a discussion (or a lively debate?) about whether Hogwarts should be considered a place or an organization. I guess imaginary places are as worthy of accurate subject headings as real places, or, um, organizations…?
150 Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Imaginary place) CANCEL
(C) 150 Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Imaginary organization) [Not Subd Geog] [sp 00002633]
450 UF Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Imaginary place) [EARLIER FORM

150 Legislators’ pets [May Subd Geog] [sp2009009244]
550 BT Pets
Ted Kennedy and pet
In My senator and me : a dog’s eye view of Washington Senator Kennedy’s dog, Splash, follows the senator around for a day and introduces readers to the White House.

There’s also a Presidential pet museum?!

Sept. & Oct. art subject headings

from the Library of Congress subject headings weekly lists in September and October 2009:

Weapons of mass destruction in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009007321]

Invaded Space – Adam Richardson

DjahalLand (Illustration, concept art and design for visual development)

Parthenon (Athens, Greece) in literature [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009007816]

At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the 21-year-old newly wedded Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin, a Scottish heiress and celebrated beauty, enchanted the power brokers of the Ottoman Empire, using her charms to obtain their permission for her husband’s audacious plan to deconstruct the Parthenon and bring its magnificent sculptures to England. Two millennia earlier, Aspasia, a female philosopher and courtesan who presided with her lover, the visionary politician Pericles, over Athens’ Golden Age, plied her wits and allure with equal determination, standing with him at the center of vehement opposition to his ambitious plan to construct the most exquisite monuments the world had ever seen.

In parallel stories that resonate hauntingly, Aspasia witnesses the dramatic events that lead to the construction and dedication of the Parthenon, and Mary Nisbet witnesses that same magnificent building’s deconstruction and demise.

–from the author’s website

Dakota beadwork [May Subd Geog] [sp2009007918]

Oglala Lakota (Oglala Sioux) beaded horse mask from the National Museum of the American Indian. “Said to have been used by the chief of the Teton Sioux to lead a parade at Pine Ridge Agency, July 4th, 1904.” Part of the Song for the Horse Nation exhibit.

Arm in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009007864]

-from Joe Pepper’s Flickr photostream

-from _drawinglines Flickr photostream

Pug in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009008273]

According to pugsinformation.org, a series of pug figurines created by German sculptor and porcelain modeller Johann Joachim Kändler served as a secret emblem for an underground German Freemason lodge, the “Mopsorden” – the “Lodge of the Order of the Pug”.

Waves in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009007738]

Jonathan Villeneuve – “Faire la vague – Do the wave” [installation]

Jesse Higman – “Spiral”
“This Wave Painting was poured on a table specially constructed to curve the flow of water. You can still see the hole in the canvas at the apex of the spiral. For the texture, I mixed a special Golden medium called GAC which lists as a precaution that it may cause foam if stirred aggressively. I use an egg beater to mix. The “paint” I use contains tiny mica flakes which give the painting an iridescent sheen. As the foam bubbles make their way along to the hole, they collect particles of mica which make tiny islands.” -from the artist’s website

Shout out: the format of this post was inspired by lower east side librarian’s highlights from the weekly LCSH lists.

A back-of-the-book index to images of ancient Greek vases

Before I dive into this, here’s my experimental image index that is discussed in this post. You can see some sample pages from the text using Amazon’s “look inside” feature.

Over the summer I took a class on indexing and abstracting. As part of my final project, I indexed some of the images of Greek vases in the book The History of Greek Vases, by John Boardman (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2001). It seems kind of quaint to produce a back-of-the-book image index; maybe that’s just because I’m too steeped in digital stuff. Indexes are crucial for print materials, and I know it would have been useful to my art historical research to have the subjects, vase types etc. indexed. However, this probably isn’t the most practical of endeavors. Any good index to the text would probably index image captions, or the locators would at least get you close enough that you could find that one image you remembered that showed Perseus with a detached Gorgon head in hand. This exercise was more just to see what would happen if indexed multiple attributes but proceeded as if I were just creating a traditional subject index to a text. What would the index look like? What would the cross-references be like, and how would the image index differ from an index to the text?

Method and Meanderings
I didn’t index drawings, maps, or photographs of sections of vases; I focused on images depicting vases in their entirety, and on the descriptive information about them that was included in captions. The locators in my index are for page numbers, although each image was numbered in the text. It just seemed easier to navigate to a page than to an image number.

When deciding what aspects of the images to index, I took inspiration from the access points used by the Beazley Archive at Oxford University. Some of the elements by which one can search the Beazley pottery database are:

  • Fabric
  • Technique
  • Shape name
  • Date range
  • Inscription type
  • Inscription
  • Artist name
  • Scholar name
  • Decoration description
  • Collection name
  • Publication name

There are even more than that, and it’s pretty impressive. Not all of these categories would be useful for my purposes (a back-of-the-book image index), but several of them (inscription type and vase shape name, for example) are especially useful for various types of art historical research in this field.

I looked at the VRA Core 4.0 metadata schema and noted which of its elements might correspond to those used by the Beazley Archive. The Beazley’s “fabric” element combines VRA’s “cultural context” and “style/period” elements. “Technique” corresponds to VRA’s “material” and “technique”. VRA does have an element for “inscriptions”, but it’s not clear to me if the “type” attribute for the “text” sub-element could be used to indicate the type of inscription (e.g. epoisen or egraphsen signatures). I was mainly using VRA Core as a point of reference, to get an idea of the types of attributes generally deemed important in creating descriptive metadata for images. (at the time, I didn’t know about Cataloging Cultural Objects, but since VRA Core is based on it I don’t see that as a big deal). I also considered the facets of AAT, and what they indicate about elements that can be combined (e.g. style and period).

The attributes I finally chose to index were:

  • artist name
  • vase shape
  • technique
  • decoration
  • inscription
  • subject (both “things” depicted (e.g. warriors) and mythological figures (e.g. Achilles))

I don’t think any of the vases in my sample set ended up having inscriptions. I chose to index only these six elements because I had a limited amount of time to devote to this. If I was indexing images in an online setting I would definitely want to use more access points.

It was difficult to differentiate between imagery that could be both a subject and a decorative element. Many of the vases I was indexing were decorated with rows of animals in a repeating pattern. This is a common motif, so I needed to decide on a policy for how to index it. At first I was making very specific subheadings indicating the type of vase on which the pattern was appearing, but then I realized that this was creating too much work, and it probably wouldn’t be all that useful. It was also starting to conflate the “fabric” and “technique” elements with the “subject”, and I wanted to keep them separate in hopes of having a less chaotic index.

So, for a vase that had a motif of lions in a row, I decided to just give the locator after the heading (“lions, 30-31”). However, if there was a vase with a lion in any other, non-decorative context, I made a more specific subheading (“lions – being hunted, 20”). I worried that it would be confusing to have some locators listed after the heading, and then a subheading with more locators. So I decided that if any subheadings were required, I would instead list the decorative appearances of the subject with the subheading “as decorative element”. Hopefully more examples will make this clearer:

Sphinxes were only used as decorative elements in the vases I indexed. So the entry for sphinxes is:

sphinxes, 20, 33, 41, 45, 46

Lions were used as decorative elements on some of the vases, but sometimes they were part of the narrative scene. So my entry for lions is:

  being hunted, 20, 23, 30-31
  as decorative element, 29, 33

Problems / Discussion
Many of my locators appear multiple times within the same entry for a couple of reasons. First is the fact that one page could contain multiple images of different vases with the same subject matter, technique, or fabric. Second: most vases have multiple sections of varying imagery. I may have been indexing too deeply, but I thought that failing to index all the different aspects of the subjects depicted would be akin to giving the researcher a list of undifferentiated locators. A good example of this is the heading for “warriors”. Since I was creating a heading for “hares – being hunted by warriors” it made sense to have “warriors – hunting hares” instead of just listing all the pages for warriors. Why not give the user as much information as possible? Additionally, my entry for “hares” has duplicate locators because in one section of the same vase (on page 33) the hares are a decorative motif, and in another section they are part of a narrative scene in which warriors are hunting them. (confused yet?!)

As mentioned above, deciding to index both “subject” and “decorative elements” caused problems for me when the two were hard to differentiate. I wanted my imaginary user to be able to use the index to find lion freizes and not have to go through a bunch of locators just to find irrelevant images of lions NOT in freizes. But then again, I always expect too much of my information resources.

In hindsight, I think my index would be more useful if I had created separate indexes for each attribute I was indexing. But there are pros and cons to having the index divided by facets instead of in one long alphabetical sequence. One of the books I examined had one index for mythological figures and one for objects that are commonly attributed to specific gods/goddesses (I thought this was awesome). The book I was indexing had three separate indexes: (1) Artists, Groups, and Wares; (2) Mythological and Divine figures; and (3) General (three indexes in a mere 3 pages!). Though it makes sense to divide the index this way, it could lead to confusion if it spanned more than 3 pages. A user could be looking for Odysseus in the wrong index and not know it unless each page was very clearly marked with a header (I think I remember committing this error as an undergraduate). Another benefit to having one long alphabetical index is that it didn’t force me to always differentiate between the aforementioned troublesome decorative elements and subjects, which overlap so often on the same pot.

In real life, it would probably be best to keep the index as simple as possible, only providing sub-headings when the list of locators for certain topic/shape/artist got excessively long. Nevertheless, if my methods in this exercise could be used on a larger scale, the index would be very useful. Of course that’s unrealistic because of how time-consuming it is, and how “everything is online” now. Back-of-the-book image indexes aren’t unheard of, though. I inspected the indexes in the back of Boardman’s book and another book on Greek art. One of them only listed very general topics (“women” or “fighting scenes”). The other gave some sparse subheadings (and I think this one was the better index overall, though neither of them had any “see” references!).

Indexing a set of images in a book is a good way to become familiar with the basic issues of image description and index construction. It requires decisions that appear simple on the surface, but force you to carefully consider the nature of your subject and the needs of your potential users. You’re forced to make decisions about what to index, how deeply to index, and how to best express what you’re indexing…and those are all just as important in the online environment. So this is a good exercise for a rainy day when you need a rest from computer eye strain.

Also, I think it would be interesting to survey scholarly texts in any image-focused field and try to get an idea of how people deal with images in back-of-the-book indexes. Projects for the future!