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Flusser’s Vampyrotheutic Sublime

This short essay suggests that Flusser found in the Vampire Squid a modern sublime: an animal that escapes instrumental mentality and creates a human fear of the unknown. In Vampyroteuthis Infernalis Flusser discussed the cephalopod, which he imagined to be a giant “beast,” and its deep-sea habitat. He was aware of the impossibility of the two species, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis and human, to meet. Such meeting would sublate the subject-object relationship. While he respects the vampire squid and its inhuman Umwelt, Flusser still imagines the creature as an impossibly powerful, alien thing. In this regard, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis and the greatness of its abyss unfold the sublime.

Vampyrotheutic Sublime (PDF 307.42 KB)

The Black Box and the Techno-Imagination of the Sublime: Flusser, Kant, and Iñarritu’s 11’09”01

Despite the possibility for “meta-programming,” the relationship that the photographer maintains to the apparatus in Flusser’s theory is one in which the latter not only conditions the processes of image making and viewing, but perpetuates the larger cultural framework of the technical image.  Acting as a materialization of a larger discursive regime, the camera oversees and manages micro- and macro- distributions of the program of which it is a part.  This essay attempts to draw out the larger implications of this model by engaging with disaster photography, specifically, the seeming ubiquitous impulse to take pictures in the context of 9/11.  Rather than the ineffable of the sublime or unassimilable of trauma studies, Flusser’s ideas allow us to approach this scenario from a materialist framework, suggesting a unique camera consciousness of disaster which functions as a specific category within its larger program rather than its compromise or negation.

The Black Box (PDF 135.77 KB)