Um alfabeto de azuis e amarelos
In the interview “Um alfabeto de azuis e amarelos” (An alphabet of blues and yellows) published by the magazine “Superinteressante” in November 1988, Flusser discussed his theoretical position. The problem with spoken and written languages is that they are inadequate to describe the world, which could be described much better in mathematical terms. However, the problem with numbers is that they are separated from each other by intervals. Colours, on the other hand, tend to blend into each other.
Letters / Farben statt Formen / Coloration replacing formalisation / Farben verschlüsseln / Karl Gerstner / Vilém Flusser und die Farben
Vilém Flusser and Karl Gerstner got to know each other in February 1987 at the 2nd Latin American Seminar on Alternatives for the teaching of the history of science and technology. Their letter exchange covers a period of about two years (1987-1989). Flusser and Gerstner were united by an intellectual and emotional friendship, read each other’s works, and dedicated a very personal text to one another: “Karl Gerstner” and “Vilém Flusser und die Farben” published in 1992 after Flusser‘s death. Flusser wrote two other texts “Farben verschlüsseln“ and “Farben statt Formen“, together with its English version „Coloration replacing formalisation“ in early 1988, as a discussion proposal for Gerstner. He dedicated “Farben verschlüsseln“ to Gerstner and sent the text with a letter, dated March 4, 1988. While Flusser wrote all his texts with a typewriter, Gerstner’s letters are practically all handwritten and in some cases in colour. To emphasize this difference the letters have been published separately and in different formats: Flusser’s letters are PDF-files and Gerstner’s JPEG and JPG-files.
Colourful Dialogue: Vilém Flusser, Karl Gerstner and the Casa da Cor
Casa da Cor connected Vilém Flusser with an important interlocutor: Karl Gerstner. Gerstner’s systems-based approach was laid out in his book Designing Programmes: Instead of Solutions for Problems, Programmes for Solutions (1964). He was involved in New Tendencies, the 1960s Zagreb-based group that saw research and the computer as a medium for artistic innovation, and he was included in landmark exhibitions like The Responsive Eye (1965) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and documenta 4 (1968). Flusser and Gerstner discussed developing a denotative color code and creating a three-dimensional color space, called Colorarium, that would follow precedents like Kandinsky’s The Yellow Sound, composer Ivan Wyschengradsky’s audition colorée, or Le Corbusier’s Poème électronique (1958), as well as Gerstner’s earlier environments made with televisions, Plexiglass spheres, and acrylic-on-polyester reliefs. Neither the Colorarium nor the color code were realized, but they were theorized in Flusser’s writings: “On Science III” (1988) in Artforum mentioned Casa da Cor and asked, “Could a color code become a sort of universal Esperanto, complementing or even substituting for spoken and written language?”
Transparente Gegensätze – Logische Auflockerungen. Von den Abenteuern eines Bild-Ingenieurs und poetischen Konstruktivisten
Karl Gerstner’s work is above all about visibility (Sichtbarkeit) and conceivability (Denkbarkeit). It makes something unprecedented appear. In this context, colours play an essential role. Gerstner’s works are of great clarity and severity, they are inspired by a constant pursuit of abstraction punctuated with flashes of freedom. Both Vilém Flusser and Karl Gerstner were influenced by the thinking of Jean Gebser and his notion of a-perspectivity and transparency – diaphaneity in Gebser’s terminology.
“Documentar algo que no existe”: los modelos discursivos como apparatus en Vampyroteuthis Infernalis
The concept of “apparatus”, proposed by Vilém Flusser in his Towards a Philosophy of Photography, implies an analysis of the “production logic” of the artistic work, which Flusser proposed thinking about photography. However, this concept also offers a possibility of reading his Vamyproteuhis Infernalis as a rebellion against the discursive rules that themselves work as an “apparatus” . By questioning the rules of scientific, philosophical, didactic and literary discourses, Flusser plays with the mechanisms of the discourse and deactivates their automatisms. This leads to questions like the boundaries of art, creation as a form of knowledge, or imitation and scientific study of reality as a need in artistic, literary creation, and methodologies of “scientific creation”.
In this interview, Fred Forest, Jean-Louis Poitevin and Martial Verdier, discuss the relationship between Fred Forest and Vilém Flusser, their collaboration over the years and the influence they had on each other’s work and thinking. Verdier was at one time Forest’s assistant; he is now Secrétaire Général of TK21 and has recorded and edited the discussion. The interview begins with their first meeting between Forest and Flusser and the person of Flusser himself. It then moves on to a major field of collaboration: gestures (ca. 4.38) and the role of dialogue and intersubjectivity (ca. 5.55). They also discuss the notion of apparatus (ca. 9.00), video (ca. 17.25) and the group “Art Scociologique” (ca. 20.25 and again ca. 37.40). Forest talks about the dissolution of the group and about one of his members Hervé Fischer (ca. 38.30) (see the interview with Fischer in this issue). Verdier questions Forest about Flusser’s impact on his work and the way he himself influenced Flusser’s thinking (ca. 29.30). The very last question concerns the future of art. The situation today, Forest says, is tragic, but there is also hope for “a return to more honest, profound and valuable” things.
Une conversation / Letters: Hervé Fischer - Vilém Flusser 1976 - 1982
This very personal bilingual interview with Hervé Fischer is preceded by a short e-mail exchange that sets the tone. It deals with Fischer’s personal relationship to Edith and Vilém Flusser, their first meeting, multilingualism, writing in French, the São Paolo Biennale, Flusser’s relationship to Alexandre Bonnier and Jeanne Gatard, Art Sociologique but also the future of Flusser’s legacy.
Vilém Flusser et la recherche-création
This paper highlights some of the parallels and resonance effects that can be observed between the way Flusser advocated dealing with the “art crisis” and the way some institutions conceive and justify their “research-creation” programs today. Seen in this way, Flusser appears to have already been calling for a way of enhancing both research and creativity a half a century ago. We have yet to understand the epistemic, aesthetic and political implications of the specific method of interrogation he proposed (the Pilpul).
The following is an excerpt from Anne Popiel’s book Of Pixels and Particles. The digital connection between nature and art in Vilém Flusser’s philosophy . Published in 2012, it explores metaphorical connections between sand grains, droplets, bits, pixels and particles, linking the ocean of the Vampyroteuthis to moving sand dunes and the screen of the computer. “Flusser’s response to groundlessness is to create one’s own ground out of thin air, modeled by oceans, squids, spider webs and sand” (Popiel 2012: 14). His “metaphors translating sand grains into pixels and wind turbulence into algorithms highlight the digital structures present in both nature and computer technology that create an environment conducive to the spontaneous emergence of new order” (ibid.:54).
Vilém Flusser, die Dolomiten und das Urvieh oder: Die ästhetische Krankheit Patriotismus
“I had seen photos of Flusser before and imagined him quite differently: much taller and more imposing. But he was short, incredibly agile, with long slim fingers, the whole person was constantly on the move. … He raved about the beauty of Merano … he loved the Italian language and culture and the Tyrolean songs that I sang to him” (Matthias Schönweger). This article by Katharina Hohenstein, which highlights some aspects of Vilém Flusser’s stay in Merano, was published in the fifth issue of the trilingual magazine vissidarte in Merano in December 2009. We thank the publishers for the opportunity to publish it here again (Rainer Guldin).