Any serious college student who has sat in the darkness of a lecture hall watching the parade of color slides that forms the backbone of most art history lectures must have wondered whether there was not a better way to learn about the subject. With their distortions of scale, color, and texture, their cavalier treatment of historical context—Queen Nefertiti cheek by jowl with a Warhol Marilyn, say—slides are, at best, an unsatisfactory learning tool.

Small wonder, then, that someone should have proposed television as an alternative. Television has mobility and range. The camera can travel to distant places and position itself so as to capture a view of the greatest breadth or the most oppressive proximity. Television is also more versatile than the slide projector; being in a sense “live,” it can also be made more lively. Finally, because almost every home has a...


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