Information for Researchers, No. 91 | October 27, 2021

Priority Programme “The Digital Image” (SPP 2172)

In March 2018, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “The Digital Image” (SPP 2172). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

The Priority Programme (DFG-Schwerpunktprogramm/SPP) “The Digital Image”, which started at the end of 2019, addresses the central role of the image in the complex process of digitising knowledge, both in theory and in practice, by bringing together examplary projects. The goal is to critically discuss and reflect on this topic as a profound, epistemological upheaval. This is done in a decidedly transdisciplinary exchange and is to be carried out with special inclusion of the information sciences.

In the Priority Programme projects can be funded which: 1) reflect on the part of the image in the process of digitalisation, with the intent to contribute to a theory of the digital image as used in art, science, and culture; 2) describe and interpret the phenomenon, manifestations, and practices of the digital turn in its visual dimensions (the description and interpretation of form in the visual arts in digital space belong to this topic, for example); and 3) target the practical side of technology in digital images, e.g., the development of innovative ways of using the digital image as a medium of perception in a scientific context. Applications can be categorised in any one of these three areas; however, they should also consider the other two in their conception. One focus area of the SPP should be its practical application, here the examination and reflection of technological instruments and social infrastructure.

In general, the individual projects can be based in the arts and cultural sciences, or if appropriate, in the information sciences as well. In order to realise the particular challenge of reflection in the technical realm, individual projects can be defined as “tandem projects”, in which computer scientists and cultural studies researchers cooperate closely on the topic. It should be noted that the available funds are limited and personnel and material costs must be kept within reasonable limits, even for collaborative projects, in order to be able to fund a sufficient number of projects within the SPP framework. The transdisciplinary debate central to the project will occur at higher-level events, which will be organised as cooperative workshops in Marburg (coordination of the second funding phase) and Munich (previous coordination office), as well as in the virtual research spaces of communal discussion and publication platforms.

Every project, no matter the associated academic field, requires a reflexive component. This can be implemented as a conceptual/development-oriented and/or media-reflective position. Projects whose only purpose is inventory digitalisation, or which only provide new tools for the processing of these inventories, are not addressed. In principle, the SPP projects should contribute to improving the understanding of the role of the digital image in the broader knowledge society, thereby reflecting the pictoriality of information in the digital realm.

In accordance with these criteria, 12 projects were selected by a group of experts for the first funding period from December 2019 to December 2022 that basically meet these criteria and reflect the possible spectrum (please find below the link). For the second funding period, the requirements profile will essentially be retained. Projects that have already received funding can submit a follow-up application. New applications are explicitly welcome and will in principle be treated in the same way.

Application form

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 15 March 2022. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 1 March 2022 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process. Please send another copy of the application in electronic form to the programme coordinator at .

If you would like to submit a proposal for a new project within the existing Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2172” from the current list of calls. Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be down-loaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal.

The review colloquium for the Priority Programme will probably be held in July 2022.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

A PDF of the complete proposal of the Priority Programme application may be found here:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinators:

  • Prof. Dr. Hubert Locher
    Philipps-Universität Marburg
    Kunstgeschichtliches Institut
    Deutsches Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte – Bildarchiv Foto Marburg
    Biegenstr. 10
    35032 Marburg
    phone +49 6421 28-24324
  • Professor Dr. Hubertus Kohle
    Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
    Institut für Kunstgeschichte
    Zentnerstr. 31
    80798 München
    phone +49 89 2180-5317

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact: