Mapping and Visualizing Testimonies of Spaces of Confinement: A Digital Analysis of the Kraków Ghetto
The Kraków Ghetto was created in March 1941. Thousands of Jews lived in the blocks of the ghetto before it was liquidated two years later. Studies of Nazi ghettos often focus on the ideology behind ghettoization policies or the exceptional responses of individuals by means of covert action and resistance. There has been a lack of attention paid toward understanding the lives of those who lived in the ghetto or even investigations into developing a methodology for studying experiences of such space. Testimonies from survivors are rich sources of evidence that allow those who witnessed the ghetto to describe their own memories and perceptions. They are evidence of tough ethical situations that are otherwise difficult to imagine or capture.
Digital methods offer ways to explore difficult spaces and to ask spatial questions about a ghetto that no longer exists. I use historical research and digital methods to create visualizations that might help us better understand experiences of the Kraków Ghetto. While testimonies dictate the narratives shown in each of my visualizations, an understanding of the specific media of audiovisual testimonies, and the mediating presence of collecting institutions and databases is critical to engaging with this body of evidence. In this project, I use ESRI’s ArcGIS Pro to create a map of the ghetto and 3D buildings from point-cloud data. Models are animated in Autodesk 3ds Max to visualize specific audio narratives from testimonies. While the Kraków Ghetto is the focus of study, this project argues that digital visualizations have the potential to capture the affective qualities of testimonies and illustrate ambiguous bodies of evidence. Developing a digital methodology is crucial to future studies into spaces of confinement.
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