HOME / Tags / Vilém Flusser

Übersetzung, Wissen und Kultur in der freudschen Psychoanalyse und im Werk Vilém Flussers

This article aims to present Sigmund Freud and Vilém Flusser not only as two thinkers with biographical similarities, but mainly as two intellectuals of converging ideas. Both developed a critical analysis of the human unease (Unbehagen) mediated by the symbolic, and both, each in his own way, tried to find solutions to deal with this unease using language as an instrument. Both saw in translation an important instrument to overcome cultural boundaries.

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.

The Sixth Rung (PDF 179.11 KB)

O tradutor e a janela: Entre o método e a prática

This paper addresses the issue of how to use translation as a method to understand archives. To this end, this paper proposes an intersection between Vilém Flusser’s reflection about his own writing method and the artistic experience of Mabe Bethônico as translator of the archives of the geologist and geographer Edgar Aubert de la Rüe.

O tradutor e a Janela (PDF 340.45 KB)

Programing the Visible: Dialogues between Vilém Flusser and Harun Farocki

The 2016 São Paulo exhibition “Programando o Invisível” [Programing the Invisible], showcasing works by the artist and filmmaker Harun Farocki (1944-2014), questioned the role of images in the 21st century, and particularly those images constructed by computer algorithms for video games. One of the videos in the exhibition captured the dialogue that took place between Farocki and Vilém Flusser (1920-1991) in 1986. In this theoretically rich and promising video, titled “Shocking sentences, shocking images: a conversation with Vilém Flusser,” they discussed the hegemony of images and of their power in programing our visibility. The theme is one of the central questions in both their works, as if the filmmaker and the philosopher were speaking about the same thing, although in different and complimentary ways. Their works similarly urge a reflection about the possibilities of creation of a critical perspective in face of our image culture, and they both emphasize the question of freedom in a society increasingly programed and dominated by technical images.

Programing the Visible (PDF 191.62 KB)


This text is an extract of a planned bilingual Portuguese (O homem sem chão) and German (Ein Leben in der Übersetzung) biography of Vilém and Edith Flusser by Gustavo Bernardo and Rainer Guldin. It deals with Flusser’s Czech origins from the point of view of Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) and Jaroslav Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk written between 1921 and 1923.

Meta-Švejk (PDF 144.61 KB)

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)

Por um método flusseriano / For a Flusserian Method

In academic circles, Flusser has been traditionally considered to be a “minor” thinker, an author who lacks scholarly rigor and systematicity. If a text can be understood as a testimony of how thought operates, this article follows and explores in Flusser’s texts, his process of writing-thinking, as a particular method. To this end, three procedures will be invoked to systematize a methodological trinity: a form of affirmative writing that implies a certain economy of words; a paradoxical way of writing that creates, and afterwards dilutes dichotomies; and a textuality that is experiential, that is, an aesthetic of existence. The purpose of this endeavor is to create new methodological procedures inspired by Flusser’s processes of writing-action and thought-movement.

Método flusseriano (PDF 250.46 KB)
Flusserian Method (PDF 246.71 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.

Há futuro para a tradução na sociedade pós-histórica? / Does Translation Have a Fu-ture in the Post-Historical Society?

Researchers studying Flusser’s work are faced with two apparently distinct periods: in the first period, while he lived in Brazil, Flusser developed his theory of language; in the second period, after his return to Europe, his theory of the media and post-historical society. In this paper, I intend to explore some of the connections between those two periods of Flusser’s thought, and point to some possible ways Flusser’s view on language and translation can be applied to his conception of post-historical society. Flusser's reflections suggesting that writing is coming to an end are analyzed here in an effort to identify the place occupied by translation in a world where history and writing are losing ground to technological images. In this context, this work emphasizes the crucial role assigned by Flusser to translation: that of building bridges, not only between different languages and cultures, but also between different fields and models of knowledge.

Há futuro (PDF 193.58 KB)
Does translation (PDF 202.9 KB)

Post-History, technical images and freedom in times of barbarism

Amongst the various media theorists who emerged in the last century, Walter Benjamin and Vilém Flusser are unquestionable references in regard to issues related to the narratives and the world of images. In addition to thinking about media devices and apparatuses beyond technical objects, both Benjamin and Flusser considered media images as concepts that articulate new epistemological and ontological views of the world.

On the other hand, it is possible to identify in both theorists thought processes that engage the concept of history with different perspectives. In line with critiques of a universal and hegemonic history, and without falling into an apologetic discourse about a presumed end of history, these authors offer us fresh perspectives in relation to historicism through a fruitful dialogue with the realm of technical images.

Post-history, technical images, and freedom in times of barbarism focuses not only upon contributions by Walter Benjamin and Vilém Flusser, but the article also examines the curatorial perspective of Arquivo Vivo, showcased at the Paço das Artes, in São Paulo, in 2013. This exhibition highlights the central position of art in the production of knowledge about images, history, and narratives within the framework of contemporaneity.

Post-History (PDF 228.26 KB)