Visualization of the „Will Grohmann Network"

The art critic and author Will Grohmann established a global network of artists, gallery owners, collectors, museums and media people which he used to promote "his" artists. He maintained it for over half a century, from the end of the First World War until his death in 1968.

Even at an early stage of the Grohmann project it became clear that it would be difficult to describe this network in texts. It appeared to be much more suitable to present Grohmann’s global activities to exhibition visitors by means of a visualization experience, particularly in the form of a cartographic presentation. A static map was, however, regarded as out of the question. An interactive application that would represent the dynamics of the activities of the art critic in their temporal and spatial variations was to be developed.

Initial conceptual considerations were developed by the Project Manager Dr. Constance Rudert. Strategic decisions based on these regarding the databases and the applications needed (including the proposal to use annual maps, i.e. time slices), were developed by Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Clemens Rudert (GIS office, canton of Basel-Land).

Sebastian Kraft of the University of Applied Sciences Dresden, Faculty of Geoinformation (HTW Dresden) agreed to take over most of the work for the detailed design and development of the interactive "Will Grohmann Network" application. His supervisor was Dipl.-Ing. Ines Schwarzbach, (HTW Dresden). Clemens Rudert, himself a graduate of the same faculty, was available as a consultant and assisted in the programming, the development of the productive environment and in setting up the hardware until the completion of the project.

The realization was performed in interdisciplinary collaboration between the Dresden State Art Collections (SKD, Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden), the HTW Dresden and Dresden University of Technology. The basis of the application was data on Will Grohmann’s contact persons, which were researched by the Grohmann project of the SKD. These were assigned by Sebastian Kraft, as the operative of the project, to five world maps, each representing important historical turning points (time slices). The data classification and database design and implementation were undertaken by Ines Schwarzbach. Grohmann’s biography and the cartographic representation were interrelated by the user interface programming and the provision of the data in the databases. In this way the visitors were enabled to visually and interactively experience the dynamics of Grohmann’s network. Support in the form of input regarding the design and in the presentation of the project was given by students of media computer science at the Dresden University of Technology.

The structure of the application is based on the use of interactive web maps (cf. Google Maps), under the assumption that most visitors to the exhibition can use such maps. Beyond such interactive web maps, however, the application provides the opportunity to present temporal dynamics. Thus Grohmann's contacts with his network partners over the period of his professional life can be visualized year by year. Changes in historical boundaries, movement of the contact persons as well as expansion and differentiation of the network can be shown.
The map application includes not only the temporal dynamic map but also factual information regarding the respective persons in the form of brief biographies, supplemented by portraits of the network partners. This makes it possible for the visitor to obtain in-depth content beyond the actual visualization of the network.
To facilitate the operation for the user, a help system has been integrated, which can be activated by use of the "?" button.