Our research design brings together three disciplines: visual studies, computer sciences, visualization / interface design. Together we aim at investigating potentials of digital comparison methods for the field of climate images on the Internet. We take into account the mutual critique of our respective approaches, by reflecting on the surplus of quantitative and qualitative methods in studying pictures critically. The common question we developed aims at concepts of similarity as the general basis for any comparison. The concept of similarity is explicitly interesting for our scientific issue because it serves as a key method for digital image analysis and art history/visual studies alike. At the same time similarity can be approached with quantitative and qualitative methods. But until today a critical and systematic evaluation of the different epistemic values of these methods to study image similarity has still to be made. Our research programme wants to contribute to this task. We connect our common interest in similarity to the field of climate images on the Internet, because this field allows us to analyse images in a very broad and diverse typological range; at the same time all applicants can contribute their respective broad expertise in this area to the common topic.
We expect results on three levels: on the basis of a critical and qualitative evaluation and enhancement of existing algorithms to study image similarities quantitatively; on the basis of visual climate change communication by gaining new insights into what roles these images perform between science, politics and culture; and on a meta-level of an additional self-reflecting observation of our collaboration, documenting in detail how our perspectives and our disciplinary methodologies change in the process and how at the same time, our questions alter by this intense way of collaborating.