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Fotografieren als phänomenologische Tätigkeit. Zur Husserl-Rezeption bei Flusser

Vilém Flusser not only defines his theoretical work as phenomenology, he considers the act of photography itself a phenomenological act. For this reason this contribution seeks to answer the question how much Flusser’s conception of phenomenology owes to Edmund Husserl and in what ways he has transformed Husserl’s own philosophical tenets. The main idea of this essay is that Flusser has reduced Husserl’s phenomenology to the concept of phenomenography. Nowhere in Flusser, in fact, can we trace any mention of Husserl’s idea of phenomenology as an aprioristic science of essentials. On the basis of this reduced understanding of phenomenology as a cultural science, however, Flusser discovers a remarkable structural affinity between philosophy and photography.

Fotografieren (PDF 188.67 KB)

Golem, Roboter und andere Gebilde. Zu Vilém Flussers Apparatbegriff

This essay attempts a systematic genealogic reconstruction of Flusser’s concept of apparatus from Portuguese texts of the early 1960ies up to the Bochumer Vorlesungen held in the summer of 1991 shortly before Flusser’s death. As with many other instances from Flusser’s work the concept of apparatus is decidedly interdisciplinary in nature, positioning itself on the border of philosophy, sociology, history, literature, the arts, cybernetics and technology. This fundamental ambivalence becomes particularly visible in the use of the German word ‘Apparat’ and its many derivatives, as for instance ‘Verwaltungsapparat’, ‘Fotoapparat’ or ‘Messapparat’, subsuming under the same heading the photographic camera, Kafka’s impenetrable bureaucratic apparatus and the perfectly operating apparatus of Auschwitz. Over the course of many years Flusser combined different textual sources to fashion his view of the apparatus. Many of them stem directly from the history Prague. Apart from Kafka’s novels, Karel Čapeks R.U.R, as well the figure of the Golem as it appears in the legend of Rabbi Löw, would also have to be mentioned. Flusser’s concept of the apparatus is, furthermore, connected to the philosophy of Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger and Giorgio Agamben.

Golem (PDF 389.23 KB)

Fred Forest / Media, gestures and society. Dialogues between Vilém Flusser and Fred Forest

Mídia, gestos e sociedade. Diálogos entre Vilém Flusser

The present article proposes a dialogue between Vilém Flusser’s media theory, especially focusing upon his books Filosofia da Caixa Preta (1983) and Les Gestes (1999), and the artistic projects developed by the French multimedia artist Fred Forest. Each in his own way acted towards the creation of a critical and reflective spirit about the world seen as a “black box.”

Photographic Migrants: John Goto’s West End Blues

Treating Goto’s new images themselves as migrants--exotic, digital constructions uncomfortable in the land of “straight” art photography--the essay proposes that Flusser’s understanding of photography as projection, rather than record, offers a way of reconciling significant conflict in contemporary photography. Drawing on the writing of John Szarkowski to represent the “native” position, it argues that Goto’s “migrant” images bring the native’s strengths and limitations into focus. It draws on Flusser’s conviction about the migrant’s creativity to propose that an expanded understanding of “photography” does not damage or diminish any existing canon, and offers a structure in which the value of digitally
manipulated images can be considered in their rightful context, namely the entire history of photography.

Photographic Migrants (PDF 271.64 KB)

Vilém Flusser e a Terceira Catástrofe do Homem ou as Dores do Espaço, a Fotografia e o Vento

Vilém Flusser’s contribution to modern Media Theory might have found a possible synthesis in his text “Nomadic Reflections” presented in one of the ‘Kornhaus-Seminare’ organized by Harry Pross, on the subject of Euronomadism. Flusser presents a division of the history of humankind into three great catastrophes: humanization, civilization and a third catastrophe, still nameless. This last one that is occurring now will turn humankind back to nomadism. Wind, the desert, granules and emptiness become again decisive categories for the communicative behavior of humankind, already perceivable through photography and technical images. Things and their materiality lose in value, non-things and their immateriality gain in value.

A Terceira Catástrofe (PDF 122.39 KB)

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