This text is the third chapter of David Levis Strauss’ Photography and Belief, an examination of past and present convictions about the reality, authenticity, trustworthiness of the photographic image. Following on from considerations of the subjectivity of a photograph as developed by Benjamin, Barthes, and Berger, the photograph’s status as a sign and the implications of its indexicality, this chapter positions photography in a far broader context. For Flusser recognises the photograph as the onset of a shift in human communications as vast as the invention of writing, introducing visual codes that undermine those of alphabetic writing, and opening completely different means of generating and storing information. Although Flusser spoke little of belief as such, he did speak often of doubt. If we accept that doubt is not the opposite of belief, but of certainty, his approach touches continually on questions of belief. For Flusser remains uncertain whether the new society based on technical images – the first being the photograph – will be the most creatively exciting, humane society the world has ever known, or its very opposite, a mindless network of functionaries.
Über Fotografie schreiben. Vilém Flusser, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida
The paper explores how concepts of writing (“Schrift” or “écriture”), photography (as a “technical image”) and ideology are related in the works of Vilém Flusser, Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida. A comparison of these three authors reveals both fundamental parallels and significant differences, depending on the interest, scope and line of the various argumentations, which are to be investigated.