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Flusser Now: Social Media in Brazil, and Philosophy in Detective Mode

This paper reflects upon Flusser’s legacy in light of Brazil’s current social and economic changes. It examines DIY approaches to technology and the role of social media in challenging the racial and economic segregation that exists in that country. It further reflects upon Flusser’s methodology through the “pop philosophy” of Patti Smith and Avitall Ronell. “Objectivity,” and the point of view of the “object,” is further examined through examples in the arts, in the field of anthropology, and in cinema.

Flusser Now (PDF 276.45 KB)

Imagens da Pós-História: um diálogo entre Flusser e Benjamin

This paper intends to establish a dialogue between Vilém Flusser and Walter Benjamin, considering their similarities and their differences. First, this approximation is inscribed in the philosophy of language, in which both authors take the category of “nomination” as a primordial act. Second, their common interest in technology and media, as determining elements in modern society, leads to a fertile and critical discussion towards the concepts of “technological reproducibility” and “technical image”. Finally, and no less important, is the philosophy of history, in which their positions contrast: their concepts of “history” and “post-history” are defined by the opposition between continuity and discontinuity. According to Flusser, history is essentially linear. It starts with the invention of writing and ends with the invention of technical images in post-history, which is essentially discontinuous. Benjamin, on the other hand, declines the concept of history as continuity, and develops a model based upon the principle of “assemblage”, in which history and post-history are simultaneously embraced. Flusser’s concept of post-history, nevertheless, is similar to Benjamin’s concept of history in some aspects, mainly in their common emphasis upon technical images. The crucial difference between them lies in the word “post-history” (Nachgeschichte), or “posterior history”, which in Benjamin does not have the same substantive meaning Flusser gives it, nor does it designate a specific period.

Che cosa legittima la fotografia? La produzione di un incontro tra Flusser e Vaccari

This paper describes the meeting between Flusser and the Italian artist and theorist Franco Vaccari in 1985 and 1987, and focuses on the philosophical, epistemological, and ethical basis of photography. The text is linked to the interview with Angelo Schwarz and the pictures at the end of this issue (Flusser in Italy). “What legitimates photography?” was a question proposed in the context of the symposium Torino Fotografia 1985. Today, the question is asked to address the “encounter” between Vilém Flusser and the artist Franco Vaccari. The latter is followed by a magnifying lens looking at the documentation of the real meeting between the two in 1985, but without the intention of finding the “proof.” While for Flusser, the invention of photography points to the beginning of a Post-Historical era in which he examines concepts of freedom and responsibility by combining the notion of the apparatus with the experience of exile, Vaccari activates the apparatus, and at the same time, lets his work be activated by it. In this way, the responsibility belongs to the apparatus itself, and the concept of freedom becomes a modus vivendi in which the photographer uses the apparatus to create meanings and “has a chance to discover what he didn’t know.” This process is weaved in the essay with interventions by Roberta Valtorta, who offers a socio-political overview of the photography context in Italy, and Franco Vaccari, who carefully thinks about an open answer for what can legitimize photography, as well as a related essay by Angelo Schwarz, the original author of the question which gives the title to this essay. The question of the legitimization of photography unravels through a methodology that explores what photography “becomes” by calling attention to the “subjects” of photography—or, as Ariella Azoulay defined, “the citizens of photography.”

Drafting the Techno-Imagination: A Future for Literary Writing?

Vilém Flusser paints a dire picture for the future of literary writing. He contests that it is doomed to be replaced by automated language games. In that sense, one can see literature and the image-culture as antagonistic forces. Drawing on examples from contemporary German literature, however, I show in which ways the literary imagination may contribute to the formation of the techno-imagination. The authors Ulrike Draesner and Thomas Lehr scrutinize the impact that visual media has on conceptual thinking and identity. Core ideas from Flusser’s media theory, such as the photographer as homo ludens, communication as resistance to natural entropy, and the re-conceptualization of space and time, feature prominently in the two 2005 novels Spiele (Games) and 42. In these texts, the imaginative capacity of fictional literature provides a conceptual space in which a new awareness towards technical images is drafted, tested, and reviewed.

Drafting (PDF 310.67 KB)

É possível “hackear” a existência?

The purpose of this article is to broaden the application of Flusserian concepts by investigating the figure of the hacker as one who will replace the traditional figure of the revolutionary (as a historical agent). The hacker must be taken as a modus vivendi, a model of a daily practice required under the risk that we may be fully subsumed by the dynamics of the new context of post-historical relations.

Hackear (PDF 212.77 KB)

As utopias de Flusser

For Flusser, Auschwitz revealed “the potential utopia embedded in our culture. For the first time in our history we can feel that the utopia towards which we strive […] is the extermination camp”. And he concluded: “There can be no political paradise. Because political consciousness is unhappy, every consciousness is unhappy.” This paper argues that his media theory intended to “project us beyond the [Western] project”, which ended in Auschwitz. The utopian traces of his work come to light in his engagement with Brazil, in his informational theory, in his formulation of a positive “Heimatlosigkeit” and of “post-history”. He was not a classic utopist, nor a Marxist, but someone engaged in the design of a new world free from fascism.

As utopias (PDF 305.59 KB)

Do Funcionário e de suas implicações

This article deals with job affairs and their socio-historical consequences. We will discuss how workers have been turned into a functionaries after the beginning of post-history by analyzing today’s society from the point of view of the relation between work and functioning. We will also discuss the consequences of the modifications that go with the shift into post-history and their epistemological and socio-cultural implications to provide an analysis of Flusser’s thinking on this matter.

Do Funcionário (PDF 162.09 KB)

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