Flusser, Media Theory and I. From the Genealogy of Thought
This essay is a case study of a coincidence both in terms of a personal perspective of the author’s encounter with Vilém Flusser’s philosophical and theoretical thought, and with regard to notions of necessity, destiny, and fate. In the present essay, this type of randomness is called ‘primordial accidentalism’. The author discusses his experiences in applying Flusser’s concepts of apparatus, alphanumeric society and technical images, to the creation of concepts referring to digital photography, new media, new media art, cyber-culture and techno-culture. Moreover, the author recalls his experiences with the two Polish editions of Towards a Philosophy of Photography (2004 and 2015), which undoubtedly contributed to the popularization of Flusser’s philosophical concepts among artists, media theorists and philosophers.
Flusser and the Polish (Photography) Novels
Reading Polish photographic novels through Flusser presents an expression that metaphorically depicts the principal aim of this essay. Vilém Flusser’s Towards a philosophy of photography is one of the crucial theoretical texts for current work in the field of comparative literature. Flusser’s theories are key for understanding the phenomenon of intermediality, which consists of the relations between photography and literature. This essay explains why, how, and in which type of novels Flusser’s theory is sustainable and relevant for intermedial analysis. Two Polish novels were chosen for this interpretation: “Pamiętnik diabła” by Irek Grin and “Fototerapia” by Katarzyna Sowula. The novels reflect on Flusser’s concepts in several ways, as well as on the analysis of the problems of photographic ethics and aesthetics involved in their narration. In the essay, Markowska focuses on the following issues present in the narratives of the novels: a photographer as literary character, ethical responsibilities of documentary photography, the book as a new medium, that is, the textual and visual reproduction of images within the literary art work. The analytical part is preceded by a theoretical introduction explaining Flusser’s photographic theory and the philosopher’s dialogue with ideas by Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes.