The Horizon 2020 project “Visual History of the Holocaust: Rethinking Curation in the Digital Age” aims at developing a concept of digital curation of filmic records of that will innovate curatorial work with digitized film and media collections. The project focuses on the digital curation and preservation of film records relating to the discovery of Nazi concentration camps and other atrocity sites. It is an aim of the project to establish new contexts of meaning to be explored in history, film and media studies, cultural studies and computer science. To this end we explore concepts of heritage material “curation” across several disciplines: museology (with a focus on the field of film) to forms of engagement memorials and Holocaust teaching resources seek to foster; last but not least to the field of data curation.
We attempt to do so not despite the difficult nature of the film material but because of it. At a first glance the very principles of digital engagement with cultural heritage — transformation, re-use, sharing — appear to run counter to established practices of protecting these materials from abuse (and users from potentially harmful emotional encounters with the material).
Michael Loebenstein acknowledges some of these apparent dilemmas, and suggests to approach them as a necessary challenge to curatorial principles across the aforementioned disciplines. Can this project not only innovate the way we reflect on and engage with a well-established (and problematic) iconography of destruction, but offer impulses to expand current notions of “digital curation”?