Before and after: Documenta Natura

New ways of display of the panorama photo sequences of Documenta Natura (1987–2010)

Starting point

Who doesn't know them, the paired comparison pictures in which we still like to search for the ten differences even in adulthood. The image sequences of Documenta Natura also demand an incomparable desire for discovery. Here, however, the differences usually exceed the number ten. A green space has been replaced by a shopping paradise, an allotment garden by a customs station, the secluded little forest by a tunnel portal, the sparse tree growth by a new ban forest.

The photographic method is simple; the result in the form of tableaus is striking and impressive in its expressiveness: before - after, then - now, this is how the long-term documentations of Documenta Natura between 1987 and 2010 present themselves.


Blick (Westansicht) auf das Brünnenfeld vor und nach dem Bau des Zentrums "Westside", Bern, 2002/2008 (0037-01-003)

Until the closure of the Documenta Natura, the photographers worked in analogue with 4×5' large-format cameras on slide material by means of single shots or in the form of multi-part panorama shots consisting of 2 – 5 individual shots. As a supplement, black and white negatives and an additional view with a 35 mm camera were also produced; only afterwards were the tableaus digitally processed and electronically recorded together with a comprehensive description of the content and technical aspects of the images. (Furter information see Blogpost in German:


The updating of the photo series is only partially guaranteed on the image database of the Image Archive of the ETH Library, E-Pics Image Archive Online. This means that the photo sequences are not necessarily displayed chronologically in the search result over the period of creation, which can be several years, and must therefore be grouped by the user.


Pontresina GR, Im Wald am Hangfuss bei Weggabelung östlich des Dorfteils Laret, 1999/2007 (0005-19-018)

Fundamentals & Material

  • Focus on Panoramic Views
  • Detailed metadata
  • 7’000 scanned images in high resolution and online on E-Pics Image Archive Online:
  • Images not georeferenced yet, some images with standpoint of camera (geocoordinates in metadata field description)


Contact Nicole Graf, Head Image Archive

Header: Ufer und Flussbett der Kander vor/nach der Renaturierung, 2006 (0016-05-002)

Event finished

17.04.2021 17:30

Event started

16.04.2021 08:30

Joined the team

13.04.2021 20:51 ~ FH

Edited content

13.04.2021 06:12 ~ nicole_graf

Joined the team

23.03.2021 09:19 ~ nicole_graf

Challenge posted

23.03.2021 09:19 ~ nicole_graf
Contributed 2 years ago by nicole_graf for GLAMhack 2021

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