With the strengthening of digital platforms as a new means of knowledge mediation, various attempts have been made to re-define the concept of ‘curation’. Correspondingly, the VHH project has aimed to rethink curation in the digital age in favor of a new and more inclusive definition. As a first result of this process, we propose in this document a new relational approach to digital curation. Establishing new and sometimes unforeseen relations between various digitized assets, with the aid of technological innovations, the Visual History of the Holocaust Media Management and Search Infrastructure (VHH-MMSI) offers intensified engagement with the visual history of the Holocaust, including the possibility of a close inspection of the common narrative and visual patterns of images migrating into popular culture.
To achieve this, the VHH-MMSI follows two central approaches to curation that complement each other: a comparative approach and a multimodal approach. The combination and integration of both approaches encourages participatory co-creation from the side of the user – an encouragement that further develops the repository through the curatorial activity of the user, who becomes a co-creator in the process. This user engagement is based on several levels of relations that connect the user to the digital environment, the resources to the user, the sources to other sources, the preserved traces to historical places and thereby relate past and present. As a model for discovering, describing and establishing such relations, we have developed a Taxonomy of Relations (T/R) that classifies different image relations between the visual records of liberation and various manifestations of them in different types of media.
The T/R offers a pragmatic, formal, and analytical approach to annotate and analyze liberation and atrocity pictures, their synchronic and diachronic use, as well as their aggregation in circulating images of history. It serves on the one hand as an annotation model, on the other it can be used as an analysis tool. While the former guides the annotation of visual objects that are identified using automated analysis, making it possible to interlink media objects with other images, the latter offers a terminology for interpretative, theoretical work on visual culture that explores the relations between various images and media objects.
Using the complexity of image relations as curatorial concept, our model can identify and denominate different types of relations, and expose particular ways of relating to atrocity footage within and beyond the visual memory of the Holocaust.