Adaptive Images: Challenges for Visual Studies and Media Theory

Together with Matthias Bruhn and Kathrin Friedrich, I published an article on adaptive images in the International Journal for Digital Art History ( It is part of a special issue on the digital image, which was edited by Hubertus Kohle and Hubert Locher who lead your joint transdisciplinary research cluster „The Digital Image“ (DFG-Schwerpunktprogramm „Das digitale Bild“) – I’m proud to be part of it.

  • Citation: Bruhn, Matthias, Kathrin Friedrich, and Moritz Queisner. 2021. “Adaptive Images: Challenges for Visual Studies and Media Theory”. International Journal for Digital Art History 1 (E1):140-53. 
  • DOI:
  • Download: PDF (open access) via or UB Heidelberg
  • Keywords: Adaptive images, extended reality, computer vision, media theory, 3D space

Abstract: Digital images increasingly determine the way people interact with their environment. New imaging and sensing technologies register, process, and transmit information about the physical world in real time and make it possible to continuously adapt visualizations to specific spatio-temporal settings and in relation to motion, location and perspective. With this constant feedback loop between image and environment, images gain in perceptive and practical importance. The convergence of visual, spatial and performative dimensions heralds a new type of visual media described here as “adaptive images”. Drawing on selected cases of adaptive techniques in applied contexts, such as surgery, entertainment, industrial manufacturing and psychotherapy, the paper introduces the emerging field of adaptive imaging and discusses its respective aesthetic, spatial, and operational conditions and implications. It thereby provides a tentative survey of how adaptive images challenge visual studies and media theory, and claims that their analysis requires an interdisciplinary approach.