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Subverting the Spectacle: Flusserian Tactics for Body Politics on Indian Instagram

This paper delves into the complex landscape of Instagram in India, employing Vilém Flusser's philosophy of visual communication as an analytical lens. It explores how users construct and negotiate individual and collective identities on the platform, while grappling with the interplay of power, representation, and algorithmic curation. The analysis argues that Instagram, with its focus on visual storytelling, aligns with Flusser's notion of the "technological image" shaping our understanding of the world. However, it cautions against the potential pitfalls of algorithmic mimicry, which can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and limit exposure to diverse perspectives. The paper acknowledges the influence of Western beauty standards on Indian users, potentially leading to self-doubt and distorted self-perception. However, it empowers users by highlighting their agency in employing strategies like body positivity movements and celebrating cultural authenticity to challenge these dominant narratives. In conclusion, the research advocates for a critical approach to Instagram, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the constructed nature of online content and fostering a more inclusive and representative online space.

Subverting the Spectacle (PDF 180.25 KB)

Art as Acting Against the Program of the Apparatus

Vilém Flusser is one of the first scholars to address the systems of technical media, as well as the biotechnological manipulation of the living world, in relation to the issue of programmability. In this regard Flusser questioned the position of the actor, the operator or perhaps the creator in these systems. If the functionary and the apparatus merge into a unit and apparatus has its program, what is the role the artist if he or she is not just anyone who is exhausting the options offered by the program? In the paper the functionary of the apparatus of the camera and the “creator” in the field of biotechnics are compared in order to establish the similarities in both “creative” practices of an (artistic) photographer and of a biotechnological artist, as well as discuss the similarities with other artistic practices discussed by Flusser. The apparatus functions as “intelligent machine” thus it has certain power. The subject involved in the game of the apparatus is subjected to its structure. The question is, how to establish the critical stance, how to act against the apparatus. This transposes the notion of an artist as a supposed creator to the notion of an artist as the one who resists the structures of power.