The Close-up Cloud

Visualizing Details of Image Collections in Dynamic Overviews

  • Pauline Junginger (Author)

    Pauline Junginger is currently a master's student in European Media Studies at the University of Potsdam and the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam. In her research she focuses on the intersection of media studies, human-computer-interaction and feminist theory.

  • Dennis Ostendorf (Author)

    Dennis Ostendorf is a designer and developer with a focus on interactive data visualization. He studied Visual Communication at Shenkar College for Engineering, Design and Art in Ramat Gan and is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Interface Design at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam. In his work he visualizes data and digital content and communicates topics and stories, e.g. in the fields of cultural collections and climate change scenarios.

  • Barbara Avila Vissirini (Author)

    Barbara Avila Vissirini is communication designer and research associate at the Urban Complexity Lab. She holds a Masters degree in Design from the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and explores in her work the relationship between design and information visualization in the fields of cultural collections and foreign language learning.

  • Anastasia Voloshina (Author)

    Anastasia Voloshina is a visual artist and designer, interested in applied work on digitizing cultural collections, concept and design; video work and art installations, as well as natural language processing within social science. She studied at the Moscow Lomonosov State University, University of Hertfordshire, British Higher School of Arts and Design Moscow, Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin and University of Applied Arts Vienna.

  • Timo Hausmann (Author)

    Timo Hausmann is a freelancer for Digital Media Design and Software Development. He achieved his Bachelor’s degree in Interface Design at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam with a focus on digital access to cultural collections. As a creative coder he is interested in open technology and is fascinated by the synergetic effects of logic and visual design.

  • Sarah Kreiseler (Author)

    Sarah Kreiseler is a media scholar and designer. She is currently doing her doctorate at Leuphana University of Lüneburg and the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) within the research program "PriMus - Promovieren im Museum" (Doctorate in the Museum). Sarah studied European Media Studies at the University of Potsdam and the Otago University in Dunedin and Communication Design at the BTK in Berlin (today University of Applied Science Europe). Sarah is particularly interested in studying interfaces, whether it be in physical archives or in digital representations, as an approach to reveal non-perceived structures and to analyze their influences on cultural visualizations.

  • Marian Dörk (Author)

    Marian Dörk is a research professor for Information Visualization & Management at the Department of Design and Institute for Urban Futures of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam. He co-directs the UCLAB, a transdisciplinary research space at the intersection between computing, design, and the humanities.

Identifiers (Article)


This paper introduces a visualization technique designed to uncover iconographic patterns prevalent within a collection while at the same time allowing close viewing of these particular details. Challenging an institutionalized understanding of overview and detail as inherently opposed, the intention of this research is to develop a visualization method that accounts for the iconographic abundance of a collection and encourages its casual exploration. Expanding digitization efforts have led to a growing number of rich cultural heritage datasets that are successively being published online. At the same time scholars are exploring the potential of computational methods to expand the scale and scope of art history. In this context, data visualization is often equated with a distanced perspective diminishing the intricate and intriguing details of individual artifacts. In collaboration with a museum of applied and decorative arts, we have devised a novel interface concept for the exploration of image collections such as historical glass plate negatives. Inspired by photographic plates on a light table, the resulting Close-up Cloud translates the art historical method of close viewing into the digital by combining it with a dynamic representation of quantitative iconographic patterns across an entire image collection.


Academic discipline and sub-disciplines
digital art history, interface design, media studies
Type, method or approach
data visualization, cultural heritage, distant viewing, user interface, photography
How to Cite
Junginger, Pauline, Dennis Ostendorf, Barbara Avila Vissirini, Anastasia Voloshina, Timo Hausmann, Sarah Kreiseler, and Marian Dörk. 2020. “The Close-up Cloud: Visualizing Details of Image Collections in Dynamic Overviews”. International Journal for Digital Art History, no. 5 (December):6.2-6.13.