In cooperation with the photographer Frédéric Brenner and his international project team, the research project will develop theoretical and technical concepts for the visualization of a photo archive with particular sensitivity to a collection documenting the Jewish diaspora.
In his photographic journey spanning more than four decades and more than 40 countries, Frédéric Brenner has investigated the multiple expressions of Jewish life in diaspora. His archive is a comprehensive visual record of the Jewish people from the late 20th into the 21st century. It features contemporary debates and challenges of individual and collective identities and narratives not only concerning Jewish life, but also beyond. Shifting between documentary and artistic works, it involves over 100,000 black-and-white and color negatives as well as digital photographs, 8,000 contact sheets, color transparencies, fine art prints, interviews, and paper-based diaries.
The project builds on research in digital humanities, data visualization, and human-computer interaction. While great efforts have been made in recent years in digitization and online publication, the modes of presentation continue to rely on grids of thumbnail images of the same size and format, which are arguably not able to harness the potential that lies in digital access. Our research aims to make the dimensions of processuality, selection, and materiality, which have been left behind as traces in the archive, visible. We aim to design and evaluate visualization and interaction techniques to enable navigation between different levels of granularities with regard to semantics, relations, hierarchies, photographic processes, and visual elements. Our central ambition is not to reduce the data in favor of uniformity or clarity, but to show the richness and depth by conceiving visual instruments that reflect the archive’s complexity and harness emerging technological developments to do justice to the cultural artifacts.
For the study and design of visual interfaces for photographic collections, we focus on two research threads: a) the representation of dispersion of diaspora, b) the visualization of photographic materiality and selection processes. These two thematic threads will be complemented by c) an exploration of methods to visualize and connect their multiple granularity levels, exploring the possibilities of interactively moving between visual, structural, relational, and contextual granularities.
Prof. Dr. Marian Dörk, Fachhochschule Potsdam
Viktoria Brüggemann, Fachhochschule Potsdam
Mark-Jan Bludau, Fachhochschule Potsdam
Sarah Kreiseler, Lübelner Rundlingsmuseum
Joana Pomerance, Fachhochschule Potsdam