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Flusser Against Idolatry

The article, based on the author’s doctoral thesis “Vilém Flusser: a critic of idolatry in the age of new media”, analyses the concept of idolatry as a thread connecting Flusser’s early writings on religion with the later ones on communication. Studying his sources and the main occurrences of the term “idolatry” in his writings can help us understand Flusser’s original conception. The first uses of the concept (1963-1967) are clearly embedded in his Jewish education and appear mostly in the context of his essays on hierophany and secularization, especially the ones where Flusser posthumously argues with his mentor Vicente Ferreira da Silva. From 1978, “idolatry” appears in a new context, namely his essays on media theory and communication, in particular where image and text are confronted. By connecting these two phases we are able to read his communication theory in the light of his studies on religion, understanding the key role of the concepts of idolatry, magic and myth in his later texts.

The concept of idolatry allows Flusser to reflect on images beyond an aesthetic approach. Images are not only objects of contemplation: they act on us, modifying the way we look at the world and therefore our beliefs and our behavior. However, his theory is not apocalyptic: idolatry does not emerge automatically through contact with images, but it is caused by a reversal of imagination. Training our technical imagination will help us overcome the danger of a new idolatry.

Against Idolatry (PDF 421.8 KB)

Vom „Chaos der Farben“ zum blot. Konzepte von Bilderfindung und Gedächtnis bei Alexander Cozens und Samuel van Hoogstraten

This article discusses aspects of artistic inventio in landscape painting in the 17th and 18th centuries with a special interest in the changing role of the cultural understanding of memory and its growing influence on art theory. The main focus is on two discourses about artistic invention –an artistic anecdote by the Dutch painter and theorist Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627–1678) that is part of his treatise on painting Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst (1678), and the blotting system, which the English landscape painter Alexander Cozens (1717–1786) presents in New Method of Assisting the Invention in Drawing Original Compositions of Landscape (1785/86). The article argues that while the earlier text already reflects an increasing awareness of a fundamental shift in traditional concepts of human memory, the latter one finally demonstrates new paradigms of scientific systematization, which gave rise to a different model of creative imagination.

Chaos der Farben (PDF 1.16 MB)

Juego e imaginación en Vilém Flusser

In several texts Vilém Flusser argues that if we had to define some specificity that characterizes the human being nowadays it would be homo ludens, because of the multiple cultural revolutions that have occurred, which have radically altered man’s existence, especially his imagination. The argument outlined in this paper is that the category of play not only reveals a specificity of contemporary man, but also represents his philosophical gesture. It is a central notion for Flusser’s criticism of the apparatus as a technical device.

Juego e imaginación (PDF 223.74 KB)

Las Matemáticas en el Pensamiento de Vilém Flusser

This paper aims to establish the importance of mathematical thinking in the work of Vilém Flusser. For this purpose it highlights the concept of the staircase of abstraction with which the Czech German philosopher finishes by reversing the top of the traditional pyramid of knowledge, we know from Plato and Aristotle. It also assumes an implicit cultural revolution in the refinement of the numerical element in a process of gradual abandonment of the purely alphabetic code, highlighting the new key code within the technological and telematic culture and uses the concepts of game theory, of probability theory and computing to analyze society and culture. Of particular importance is the affirmation of a new kind of imagination, a projective one. Today’s society and culture cannot be understood without resorting to the concepts and results coined and made in the course of developing a type of thinking entirely dominated by the mathematics.

Las Matemáticas (PDF 149.07 KB)

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