About the project

Historical visual research has been experiencing something of a boom for some time, however solid foundational research is still lacking into the protagonists and institutions that have shaped the visual memories of modern societies. A relatively large amount is known about the role, professional practices and career paths of press photographers. Yet the role of picture agencies and picture editors in the production and distribution of pictures has barely been researched. The same applies to the fields of picture censorship and of changing technology within the production, processing and distribution of images. The project “Visual History. Institutions and Media of Visual Memory” proposes to address these issues.
Who determined and controlled which pictures were to be released to the public in the crises and upheaval that characterised the end of state socialism? How did the techniques and approaches to producing images used during this period differ from those generally used in the individual Eastern Bloc countries? What role do textbooks have as a visual medium? How do they visually depict the history of state socialism? How is the medium of photography used by academia to present research findings to the public and to make them accessible? Which techniques are employed in those processes? What challenges do picture archives face in the digital age? Will the expertise of the picture archivist be lost or will digitisation present new scope for the historical contextualisation of historical visual material?
These are just some of the questions that will be addressed by this cooperative project, which has received three year’s funding, until 2015 , through the competition programme run by the Leibniz Association. The visual-history.de online service will provide a platform for communication and information that will offer new insights into the growing historical visual research community and its activities. It will encourage networking and stimulate debates regarding methodological and theoretical approaches. Interdisciplinary cooperation with those fields that traditionally work with images – history of art, media studies, and cultural studies – is keenly advocated.

Visual History. Institutions and Media of Visual Memory is a collaborative research project between the Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) in Potsdam, the Herder Institute in Marburg, the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Braunschweig, and the Deutsches Museum in Munich. The project is led by Dr Annette Vowinckel and Dr Jürgen Danyel at the ZZF Potsdam.


Fotoapparate-Friedhof von Sonja Allocca

Fotoapparate-Friedhof von Sonja Allocca, gesehen in Berlin im April 2011.