RINGS: Five Passions in World Art



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Anguish For those who didn't have the opportunity to visit the "RINGS: Five Passions in World Art" exhibition at Atlanta's High Museum of Art this summer, the latest multimedia production from Calliope Media will take you into the 1996 Olympic Arts Festival's centerpiece. Opened from July 4 through September 29, the RINGS exhibition gathered over 120 art pieces symbolizing universal human emotions to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Modern Olympics. Organized into five rings that represent each of the five emotions (love, anguish, awe, triumph and joy), the interactive CD-ROM features over one hundred works of art ranging from paintings to sculptures, originating from various museums and private collections throughout the world. Designed by interactive artists Jim Gasperini and Tennessee Rice Dixon, RINGS is unlike most other multimedia titles which simply put pictures, videos and sounds together related to a common subject. Au contraire, RINGS is a true artistic experience that not only sensitize senses but also the imagination.

Joy At the beginning of RINGS are five video and audio introductions from J. Carter Brown, RINGS exhibition director and director emeritus of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and Ned Rifkin, Director of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Beyond the general introduction to the exhibition, these presentations will remind you of the ancient Olympic games and their cultural legacy through a brief lesson of history. You will also learn about the passionate Baron Pierre de Coubertin who devoted his entire life to promote his ideal that he called Olympism, and renovate the ancient games to their present day form. Of course, you are not obliged to watch them, and if you prefer to jump in the exhibition itself, it's only at a click away. As a matter of fact, the RINGS' interface will liberate the user from clicking abusively on the mouse buttons while navigating through the different screens. Most of the time, selections are made just by passing the mouse icon over a specific region of the screen or by clicking the left mouse button once. Difficult to imagine something easier indeed!

Triumph From the introductory screen, you can choose which ring you want to first visit by clicking in the center of the concentric circles. According to the color of the ring icon at that particular moment, you enter into one of the exhibition's parts. The same way the five colored Olympic rings represent each a part of the world, in RINGS they symbolize five emotions that are universally expressed by humans, whatsoever the differences that may exist between races. Thus red stands for love, violet for anguish, blue for awe, yellow for triumph and green for joy. If you worry about your memory not remembering the color code, the question mark in the upper right corner of the screen will provide you with a legend and all the necessary help to easily navigate throughout the program.

As you enter in one of the five main sections, you will discover a circular window with a segmented colored ring. From this point, you can select a particular object by moving your cursor over the ring sections which will change the work of art in the center of the window. With each object comes a brief description on the right part of the screen, supplying the object's title, date of creation and artist's name. Clicking directly on the ring's segment that corresponds to the object, will bring commentaries of J. Carter Brown on that object, while clicking either on the text description or on the work itself will provide you with more details. Comments were written by dozens of different contributors from universities and museums across the country, and provide users with the history and artistic context in which the work was created. Furthermore, users may take a closer look at the work through zooming possibilities to examine more details.

Awe Each section of the exhibition features two, three or four animations called "Passion Plays" reflecting the possible forms of an emotion. With awe for example, there are three presentations with works grouped in three categories: Awe of the Supernatural, Awe of the Natural and Transcendental Awe. The audio-visual presentations feature artistic effects with morphing and other visual transitions. Poems of different epochs and cultures ranging from Rimbaud, Ovid and Neruda to the Chinese Li Po and the sacred texts of the Indian Sanskrit, accompany the Passion Plays while delivering a message that provokes an emotion.

One interesting feature of RINGS is the map origins pointing at the geographical location where the work is originating from. You can easily access this feature by clicking on the map icon that appears when you selected one work. You will be presented with one of the nine regional maps covering the entire globe from North America to Oceania, and you can switch from one area to another just by clicking on the icon representing that part of the world. On the maps, the numerous locations are represented by colored dots which, using the same color code mentioned earlier, also indicate to which emotion the work belongs. As you travel around the world and move the cursor over the locations, each work of art will be displayed with a reduced size in a small window placed at the upper right corner of the screen. Should you want to learn more about it, you just need to click on the small window.


The RINGS' interface besides being easy to employ, is particularly well done using multilayered images and a subtle scale of colors that both invite to the discovery. But what will draw people, maybe even more than the beautiful backgrounds, is the musical environment that accompanies users all over the exhibition. Mixing various styles ranging from lyrics, operas and symphonies to ethnic songs from all over the world, each piece of music transcends the emotions contained in the work of art. For every emotion, several mixes were created based on pieces of music from Bartok, Bizet, Verdi, Faure, and many others, as well as traditional songs from countries such as Indonesia, Korea, Russia, Syria, Peru and Bulgaria. Surprisingly, transitions between the different styles within a same mix seem natural, and are so well done that it sounds like a unique melody. Over 100 different excerpts were selected from EMI and Nonesuch catalogs to create this exceptional musical environment. If you are interested in the composer or nationality of specific musical works, the credits offer music cues and catalog references with poems and texts used in the "Passion Plays".


Harmoniously combining music, poetry and visual arts, RINGS is not only a faithful reflection of the original exhibition of Atlanta, but also a beautiful title endowed with an authentic artistic process, that so many other multimedia productions unfortunately lack.

Written by Frederick Claude

Click here for screen shots.

System Requirements:

Microsoft Windows

IBM-PC compatible computer with a 486-66 Mhz or faster processor,
Min 8Mb memory,
Microsoft Windows 3.1 or higher,
Hard drive required with at least 14Mb free,
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
256-color 640x480 pixel Super VGA display,
Microsoft compatible mouse.

8-bit MPC compatible sound card and speakers.


25 Mhz 68040 processor or faster,
6.3 Mb available RAM (PowerMacintosh: 8Mb available RAM),
256-color 640x480 pixel display,
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
System 7 or higher.


Scrutiny Associates.


In North America:

Calliope Media,
1526 Cloverfield Blvd.,
Santa Monica, CA, 90404-3502.

Technical Support:510-927-3906 Between 8:00am and 6:00pm PST

Web site: Calliope Media


In North America:

2 Theatre Square,
Orinda, CA 94563-3346

BBS Support:510-254-3869
Order line:800-336-2947 in the US
1-510-933-5630 outside the US

Web site: Maxis

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In UK:

Maxis UK Ltd.,
18-20 St.John Street,
London EC1M 4AY.

Technical Support:+44-(0)171-250-0215
Fax Support:+44-(0)171-490-2177



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