Open Library of Humanities (Aug 2018)

Orchestrating Overviews: A Synoptic Approach to the Visualization of Cultural Collections

  • Eva Mayr,
  • Florian Windhager,
  • Günther Schreder,
  • Saminu Salisu

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 4, no. 2


Read online Read online

In addition to providing pleasant and stimulating experiences, complex cultural collections can require significant amounts of cognitive work on the part of visitors. Whether collections are situated in physical spaces or presented via web-based interfaces, the sheer richness and diversity of artefacts and their associated information can frequently lead to cognitive overload and fatigue. In this article we explore visualization methods that can be used to fend off fatigue and to support cognitive tasks such as collection exploration and conceptual comprehension. We discuss a variety of options to generate collection representations with multiple views and focus on the rarely heeded challenge of how to integrate information from these views into a bigger picture. By utilizing multiple space-time cube representations (through the PolyCube framework), we discuss an effective approach to integrating and mediating multiple perspectives on cultural collection data. We illustrate its potential by the means of a case study on the work of Charles W. Cushman and outline first insights drawn from a heuristic evaluation. Finally, we situate our approach within the larger epistemic and methodological environment of humanities approaches to visualization design.