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David Levi Strauss


David Levi Strauss is the author, most recently, of Photography and Belief (David Zwirner Books, 2020) and Co-illusion: Dispatches from the End of Communication (The MIT Press, 2020), and co-editor of The Critique of the Image Is the Defense of the Imagination (Autonomedia, 2020). He was Chair of the graduate program in Art Writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 2007 to 2021, when it closed.

Articles of David Levi Strauss

Flusser’s Belief

This text is the third chapter of David Levis Strauss’ Photography and Belief, an examination of past and present convictions about the reality, authenticity, trustworthiness of the photographic image. Following on from considerations of the subjectivity of a photograph as developed by Benjamin, Barthes, and Berger, the photograph’s status as a sign and the implications of its indexicality, this chapter positions photography in a far broader context.  For Flusser recognises the photograph as the onset of a shift in human communications as vast as the invention of writing, introducing visual codes that undermine those of alphabetic writing, and opening completely different means of generating and storing information. Although Flusser spoke little of belief as such, he did speak often of doubt.  If we accept that doubt is not the opposite of belief, but of certainty, his approach touches continually on questions of belief. For Flusser remains uncertain whether the new society based on technical images – the first being the photograph – will be the most creatively exciting, humane society the world has ever known, or its very opposite, a mindless network of functionaries.

Flusser’s Belief (PDF 314.28 KB)

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