In 2005, after a career as an economist following his studies at the École Polytechnique and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Marc Lenot (b. 1948) reinvented himself as an art critic. Since then, he has been writing an online reference blog on contemporary art, Lunettes Rouges, published by Le Monde (http://lunettesrouges.blog.lemonde.fr/). In 2009, he obtained a Master’s Degree from the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris with a thesis on the Czech photographer Miroslav Tichý. In 2016, under the direction of Michel Poivert, he obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Paris Sorbonne with a doctoral thesis on contemporary experimental photography, partly based on Flusser’s concepts. His book on the same subject, Jouer contre les Appareils, was published in June 2017 by Éditions Photosynthèses in Arles (http://photographie-experimentale.com/). He was the first “digital” member of AICA (International Association of Art Critics) in France, and in March 2014, competing with nine other French art critics, he won the AICA France Art Criticism Prize, awarded by an international jury. He lives between Paris and Lisbon.
Articles of Marc Lenot
En hommage à Louis Bec (1936-2018)
Louis Bec, who died three years ago, was one of Flusser’s closest friends, one of the few with whom he never quarreled, and the only one with whom he co-authored a book. They met every Saturday to exchange their ideas. This essay discusses Bec’s life, his creation of the “Institut Scientifique de Recherche Paranaturaliste”, his work as a “zoosytematician” and his theories about bio-art and artificial life, some of his artistic installations, such as the Sulfanogrades, as well as their most important project, the Vampyroteuthis infernalis. Their friendly and intellectual complicity lasted seventeen years: it is difficult to imagine what Flusser would have been without Bec, or Bec without Flusser.
Flusser, La Force du Quotidien, Mame, 1973. Histoire d’une édition et d’une occasion manquée
This essay tells the story of Vilém Flusser’s first French publication, La Force du Quotidien, published in 1973 by the editor Mame. It is a collection of short phenomenological essays examining everyday objects such as mirrors, books, cars and beds.
L'échec des Rencontres de Robion (1981/82) : Un tournant pour Vilém Flusser? / The Failure of the 1981/82 Robion Encounters: A Turning Point for Vilém Flusser?
Settling in Robion in 1981, Flusser attempted to organize a summer event there, as a sort of laboratory of ideas related to the São Paulo Biennale. There was only one event, in August 1981, on the subject of analogies to language. This failure can be seen as a turning point for Flusser as far as his relationship with Brazil and with France were concerned: after 1982, the center of gravity of his intellectual and editorial life moved to Germany.
Les Rendez-vous manqués. Flusser, la France et la photographie
Flusser was based in France for the last sixteen years of his life. He spoke reasonably good French, but he published very little in France, either books or articles, gave few conferences or lectures, and never became part of French intellectual circles. While some of it may be due to his modest knowledge of French and to his living in a small southern village far away from Paris, the main reason is probably that he was an outsider, not a member of academia and not a thinker who could nicely fit in the “French Theory” dogma. Even after his death he did not attract much interest in French intellectual circles until recently. This essay analyzes this “missed encounter” principally from the viewpoint of photography; it notes however that interest in his concepts has been growing in France for several years, goes on to suggest ways to cultivate and extend this trend.
Für eine Philosophy of Caixa Preta. Analyse textuelle critique des différentes versions du livre de Vilém Flusser Pour une Philosophie de la Photographie et petite histoire de ses éditions
Towards a Philosophy of Photography was written by Flusser in three different languages, and there are important differences between the texts in German and English, and the text in Portuguese: the latter puts more emphasis on the black box and spells out that photography is a pretext to study the apparatus. However, all translations without exception were made from the German and English versions and therefore do not do justice to the development of Flusser's thinking in 1985 when he wrote the Portuguese version. Based on a textual analysis of these different editions and of the third-party translations (a critical approach so far little applied to Flusser's books), this essay suggests combining the different versions written by Flusser to arrive at a comprehensive text reflecting better his thinking. In doing so, it raises the question of power and languages, and proposes some principles to confront it.
Désillusion: Vilém Flusser et le conflit israélo-palestinien / Disillusion: Vilém Flusser and the the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
This article presents ten essays written by Vilém Flusser between 1967 and 1991 on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Some of these essays were not published. Although Flusser clearly asserts his Judaism and his pride in being a Jew, he is at the same time very critical of Zionism and the State of Israel. First, he thinks that the very existence of a Jewish national state is in contradiction with the ideal of Judaism―namely, to dedicate oneself to others―and he assumes therefore that Zionism, as a national state-building ideology and apparatus, can only fail. He also criticizes the relation between Israel and the Arab peoples, analyzing it as colonial domination and considering that Israel has failed to be the beacon of liberation and struggle against Western domination that it could and should have been. He hopes that Jews and Arabs (a formula he prefers to Israelis and Palestinians, as less grounded in territories) can overcome the conflict, draw closer and construct a new, non-Zionist model together, free of Western influences. Although this might sound utopian, Flusser trusts the Jews’ ability to contribute to such a model. These essays, especially the one entitled Disillusionment, written in Israel during his first trip in 1980, have a rather sad, bitter and disenchanted flavor. Flusser made his second and last trip to Israel in September 1991, two months before his death.
Flusser et les photographes, les photographes et Flusser / Flusser and photographers, photographers and Flusser / Flusser e os fotógrafos, os fotógrafos e Flusser
The concept of experimental photography has rarely been defined, nor has it been the subject of much research in studies of contemporary photography. Vilém Flusser is one of the few writers who, in his book Towards a Philosophy of Photography, proposed a definition of experimental photography as “playing against the apparatus”, i.e. the practice of some photographers who do not abide by the rules of photography and perturb the standard operations of the apparatus by playing against the camera. Aside from this conceptual definition, Flusser himself gave few examples of this practice, principally Andreas Müller-Pohle and Joan Fontcuberta. While expanding this definition, this essay sheds light on contemporary photographers whose work can be qualified as experimental in this respect. Some deconstruct the camera, reinventing it or photographing without a lens (pinhole) or even without a camera (photograms). Some undo the image creation process, playing with time, with light, with the chemical development process or with image printing. And some redefine the author-photographer, erasing him or giving him a different role in the photographic process. Contemporary experimental photography is not a school, nor a movement, but simply a current, a moment between the decline of traditional documentary analog photography and the rise of digital photography.