The Sixth Rung
Digital media and its effects on society have been widely discussed and questioned by many authors, for instance one’s additional self (selves) such as Facebook or Instagram and its later ways to behave virtually (Case 2014) or the effects of uninterrupted entertainment on memory, attention span and creativity (Harris 2015). Besides being an occupation during idle time, an internet connection and its gadgets have become an essential tool to accomplish some of the most ordinary tasks, such as track addresses or pay bills, as well as a powerful feature within the scientific-academic environment. The shift from analog to digital has probably been achieved. The philosopher Vilém Flusser argued that the inadvertent use of “technical” media could substantially change the way we process information, the way we think. Although Vilém Flusser had already highlighted the importance of idle time during which critical thought takes place, it is only during spare time that one is able to re-think about what was done, criticize it and adjust accordingly. Flusser’s major outcome is a possible reshaping of historical consciousness.
The following text discusses the gains and losses of cognitive dimensions after the digital shift and its impacts on the architectural design process, based on Vilém Flusser’s “hypothesis that human civilisation has seen two fundamental turning points since its beginning. The first (…) may be defined as ‘the invention of linear writing’. The second (…) may be called the invention of technical images”. (Flusser 2000; 7). The research looks at new media within the architectural design process: tri-dimensional modeling versus two-dimensional representation, use of smartphones and other interactive media by constructing analogies between writing and architectural representation, and how these new procedures are radically changing consciousness and the task of developing knowledge.
Vilém Flussers Fluß. Transkript der Videodokumentation von Gesprächen mit Vilém Flusser im Sommer 1991
In the last days of august 1991 Michael Bielicky visited Vilém Flusser at his residence in Robion, France. Several original conversations with Flusser were videotaped and published in 1994 as Vilém Flussers Fluß. Eine Dokumentation. The recordings include spirited statements by Flusser on key aspects of his work. These are presented here in written form for the first time. Flusser extemporises impressively on many of his favorite topics: the emergence and crisis of written culture and historical consciousness, the meaning of photography, film and computer-generated images as well as the prospect of a telematic society. A special gem in this transcript is Flusser's brilliant telling of the “history of mankind as a television drama,” unpublished thus far.
Translations and Transcriptions from Bielicky’s Recordings with Flusser in Summer 1991
In August 1991, Michael Bielicky brought his video camera with him to spend a few days in Robion with Vilém Flusser and Edith Flusser. The resulting intimate video recordings would be among the last made with Flusser before he died. Beside formal interviews, Bielicky filmed Flusser giving an anthropological sightseeing tour of the area around his home, in addition to a somewhat awkward visit from some television producers. Though Bielicky’s trip was supported by the German television channel WDR, only one part of the video recordings was ever shown on television—the scenes in which Flusser speaks from a window of his house about the prospects for Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union. The rest of the footage was edited into “Vilém Flussers Fluss” (Vilém Flusser’s Flow) released on video by 235 Media Verlag Köln.