ECLOUD WWI is an interactive spatial browser for the exploration of cultural data collected in the Europeana 1914–1918 archive. Presented in 3-D on a custom-designed 9 m by 3 m projection screen, the installation contains more than 40,000 images of war memorabilia ascribed to 2,500 individual stories collected across Europe between 2009 and 2013 in an ongoing Europeana crowdsourcing project.
The installation instantaneously aggregates the digital imagery and its associative metadata to provide an immersive viewing experience. Museum visitors use an iPad tablet to navigate and direct the data that is displayed on the panoramic arc of its screen. Six satiric European maps of the period are entry points into the archive via specific images that represent particular stories chosen by the curators of Europeana. Selecting one of these images brings up its description and related articles, artifacts and objects. This story group then becomes the portal to other metadata-associated image groups that appear as ‘clouds’ of images rendered on a rotating 3-D cylinder. Selecting any image from this cylindrical cloud causes the picture, along with its description and associated themes and metadata, to expand, and this in turn provides the viewer with the opportunity to link to other such clouds of images with different themes.
With 40,000 images and 15 keywords, the contents of this Europeana digital archive can be dynamically recombined for extended non-linear exploration by the viewer. The visualization strategies engaged in ECLOUD WWI signal opportunities for new curatorial practices and embodied museography by redeploying Internet data in a situated museum setting. ECLOUD WWI applies an integrative pluralist approach to the juxtaposition of image and memory that signals a shift from traditional classification and organization to a newer search-and-remix paradigm; the emphasis here is on personal affective engagement with cultural memory and on interface.