The Unassimilable Image
This short essay considers Flusser’s thoughts concerning the relationship between image and language in light of Hubert Damisch’s Theory of /Cloud/. It explores the degrees to which the image—despite a flood of contemporary manifestations particularly of what Flusser called the ‘technical image’—remains resistant to textually based systems of communication and (scientific) knowledge. It proposes a necessary openness to the image where, given the nature of how sense is made regarding the multiple ways it can be approached or ‘read’, provisionality and indeterminacy are essential, positive attributes.
Considering linear perspective as a precursor to the technical image, the paper explores the sense in which the ineffable—seen as intrinsically related to Damisch’s notion of /cloud/—is inseparable from and perhaps essential to the representational systems signified by the camera or the computer. These emerge from a constantly developing ‘net’ of language through which knowledge about the world is defined and acquires its dizzying complexity. This net is regarded as intertwined with, yet of a different order to, the image. Flusser’s technical image locates this concept firmly within a linguistic system but such an image still has echoes of its origins, and is thus open to difference in terms of how it is approached and what can be drawn from it. This is a productive incompleteness. Some of the author’s visual works, which are thoroughly enmeshed with the thoughts that have led to such thinking, are represented and function as asides, responses, or counterbalances to the ideas explored in the text.