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Für eine Philosophy of Caixa Preta. Analyse textuelle critique des différentes versions du livre de Vilém Flusser Pour une Philosophie de la Photographie et petite histoire de ses éditions

Towards a Philosophy of Photography was written by Flusser in three different languages, and there are important differences between the texts in German and English, and the text in Portuguese: the latter puts more emphasis on the black box and spells out that photography is a pretext to study the apparatus. However, all translations without exception were made from the German and English versions and therefore do not do justice to the development of Flusser's thinking in 1985 when he wrote the Portuguese version. Based on a textual analysis of these different editions and of the third-party translations (a critical approach so far little applied to Flusser's books), this essay suggests combining the different versions written by Flusser to arrive at a comprehensive text reflecting better his thinking. In doing so, it raises the question of power and languages, and proposes some principles to confront it.

Analyse textuelle (PDF 892.66 KB)

Fiktions des Wissenschaft – Is Science Fiction Translatable? or is Translation a Science Fiction?

Vilém Flusser’s 1988 short essay Science Fiction explores two strategies of science and fiction as science, and provides clues to his process of translating and retranslating his own work. Flusser explains two different praxes that lead to an essential paradox, and that this two-sided approach is equivalent to Leonardo da Vinci’s fantasia essata, an ‘exacting fantasy’. For Flusser, Science Fiction is a ‘Technik’ in the truest sense of the word, and his theory and praxis of science fiction can be applied to his use of translation. While he allows for an ‘inexactitude’ in science, science fiction and translation – an ‘Ungenauigkeit’ that allows a space for exploration – he still engaged in translation, using this practice throughout his career. It is odd then, that he did not take the time to translate and reevaluate his 1988 lecture Science Fiction. Both translation and science fiction can exist as a kind of Technofantasy as proposed by Don Ihde, but one where Flusser’s two fiction-in-science strategies to approaching truth (“Wahrheit”) in science (“Wissenschaft”) are analogous to Hans Vaihinger’s two categories of fictions: ‘figments’ as imaginary fantasy, and ‘fictions’ as falsifiable conjecture. Both allow for a more nuanced sliding suspension of disbelief that is liminal and active in the human practice of finding meaning in information. This is not a subliminal hidden individual practice, nor is it hyper-liminal collective-unconscious of an overall audience knowledge – but both. This double-edged practice is baked into how narrative and scientific method’s dialectic have evolved and replicated across history particularly through translation. Using both Vaihinger’s Philosophy of ‘As-If’ and Ihde’s conceptions of Postphenomenology this research seeks approaches to translation and science fictions in Flusser’s works. It will then reconnect to the original 1988 essay linking Flusser’s ideas of science fiction and translation and the struggle with translating thought, science and fictions.

Fiktions (PDF 150.16 KB)

Gestural translations from within the (post)digital: a Flusserian analysis of phonic gestures

Bridging the gap between Vilém Flusser’s theorising around language and work on gesture, this paper will examine the collection of gestures that form a constituent ‘vocabulary’ of our mobile phone use. The presented research examines a wide array of gestural taxonomies that take the form of dictionaries and notations which have been used in attempts to define such developing vocabularies. However, the paper is critical of these taxonomies as it argues they reveal a central problematic at the heart of any gestural vocabularies: the reduction of the body into the biomechanical; an assortment of weighted pulleys and levers. As a result of this, these gestural taxonomies are shown to create technical images of the body reducing it further to nothing more than a functionary of an apparatus. In response to these limitations implicit within such taxonomies, the paper reconsiders today’s developing gestural language in terms of the writing of Flusser. It argues that his work allows for gesture to be examined as phenomena, and in viewing these gestures as situated and witnessed phenomena, it becomes possible to perceive of them not simply as symbolic movements of the body, but rather as a form of translation. The paper then argues that what is being translated through these phonic gestures can be understood as a postdigital condition that has emerged following the alleged end of the digital revolution. To evidence these claims, the paper performs a gestural analysis of Luke Collins’s short film, Swiped (2019) that demonstrates an interaction between two individuals attempting to navigate a peculiar (post)digital situation.

Gestural Translations (PDF 593.77 KB)

Jude Sein – Being Jewish – Ser Judeu / Spuren des Jüdischen in Vilém Flussers Denken

These two short essays try to retrace some of the main interrelated nodal points of the Jewish dimension in Vilém Fusser’s thinking and writing: Bodenlosigkeit, Heimatlosigkeit, nomadism, exodus, desert, sand, dune, tent, wind, bit, grain of sand, swarm, Sabbath, epoché, mysticism, nothingness, Pilpul, Talmud, polysemy, multilingualism, and translation.

Jude Sein (PDF 261.89 KB)
Spuren (PDF 328.14 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)

Imagem como língua: uma leitura flusseriana

This article explores the concept of language as shown by Flusser in his book Língua e Realidade in order to explain that it is a comprehensive and symbolic structure which can be undertood in a restricted or in a broad way.

Imagem (PDF 154.33 KB)

Translating Space: On Rivers, Seas, Archipelagos and Straits

This paper explores possible convergences between translation and geography focusing on a series of spatial metaphors that try to break free from the simple idea of separation and opposition. Languages are viewed not as radically differing self-contained cultural continents existing on separate shores or riverbanks but as moving and constantly intermingling currents and heterogeneous interlinked archipelagos. Instead of the metaphor of the river that has to be crossed in the course of translation, the paper focuses above all on the metaphor of the strait which stresses the very difficulties of translation highlighting the absence of any easy binary division.

Translating Space (PDF 406.14 KB)

O mundo novo da língua no itinerário de Vilém Flusser

When Vilém Flusser reached Brazil as a Jewish fugitive in the early 1940s, he didn´t know any Portuguese, and he faced a long and difficult path of nearly twenty years until he published his first article in the language of the new tropical world. From this painful experience with a new form of thinking, and by practicing a constant dialog between his Jewish-Czech-German culture rooted in Prague and the Portuguese language, he discovered that whatever he thought in Portuguese was informed by a specific Portugality or Brazilianness, that every language has its reality and that this new language and culture didn’t fit in with the categories of his youth. In this process, Flusser turned to one of the most important philosophers, including some of the most important intellectuals like Guimarães Rosa, who recognized the special character of the Portuguese language and who contributed fundamentally to the development of an authentic Luso-Brazilian philosophy.

Mundo novo (PDF 213.53 KB)

De Flusser a Benjamin – do pós-aurático às imagens técnicas

This text presents some elective affinities and differences between the works of two powerful media theoreticians of the 20th century: Water Benjamin and Vilém Flusser. Both authors have shaped original perspectives on the relationship between art and technology. While holding a special place for the theory of photography, both have reflected upon the history of writing and its transformations during Modernity. In addition, both Benjamin and Flusser dedicated important texts to the question of translation and the philosophy of language. This text also examines the differences between the Benjaminian theory of writing and image reproduction connected to his concept of post-auratic images, and, on the other hand, the Flusserian theory of technical and post-historical images.

De Flusser a Benjamin (PDF 156.83 KB)

Translating Multilingual Life

This essay reexamines the cultural implications of the act of translation through three quotations from Portuguese into English from Vilém Flusser’s 1992 philosophical autobiography Bodenlos. In retranslating this multilingual life, this act once again displaces preconceived notions not only of philosophical “groundedness,” as Flusser has called it, but also of the very possibility of cultural centrality, to say nothing of authenticity. Moreover, through the continued recirculation of such textual fragments beyond the strictly perceived boundaries of ‘the language in which they were written,’ such transcultural acts may well provoke yet another series of divergent interpretations, especially when read against the backdrop of a New Coast: a geographical zone mapped out by way of a new set of interconnected cultural experiences and markings of multilingual life.

Multilingual Life (PDF 128.56 KB)

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