Adaptive images. Technology and aesthetics of situational imaging


With recent technological developments, digital images are increasingly being integrated into portable, sensor-controlled and augmented visualisation systems that operate as a function of their environment. While virtual or augmented reality applications have become established in the consumer field, they also promise to yield wide-ranging applications in professional contexts, for instance in industrial production.

In fields such as medical practice however, the far-reaching implications of this technological arsenal of devices are becoming clear. Therapeutic interventions are assisted via automated real-time visualisations to such an extent that digital images have replaced the real body as the primary object of reference. The body is immobilised in hybrid, multimedia and multimodal image apparatuses that are being continually extended with interfaces, mechatronic and logistical elements.

This constant spatio-temporal interplay of visualisations, objects and actions produces new opportunities for diagnosis and treatment, but also poses challenges in relation to the perception, interpretation and design of images, which are increasingly guiding actions and even life-and-death decisions as algorithms anticipate decisions and restrict actions. If adaptive images can only be experienced individually, their purported proximity to reality results in a specific impossibility to grasp them.

This shift from digital to adaptive images forms the project’s central focus. Based on application-related case studies, it will explore the particular aesthetic, technical and operational facets of adaptive imaging and the associated representational problems. This study will not only make a fundamental contribution to the concept and critique of the image but also to better understand the overall mechanism of digital imaging that is in the very heart of the priority program (SPP).


Matthias Bruhn, Professur für Kunstwissenschaft & Medientheorie, University of Arts and Design Karlsruhe

Moritz Queisner, Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, University of Arts and Design Karlsruhe

Kathrin Friedrich, Associated member, Forschungskolleg „Sensing – Zum Wissen sensibler Medien”, Universität Potsdam