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Bibliophagus convictus / Bibliophagus / Bibliophagus

In this satirical fable, Flusser mocks among other things the growing importance of recycling and the recycling of that which has already been recycled, of plagiarism, the lack of originality and true creativity in the production of books, and the tsunami like character of book publications typical of present-day culture. This phenomenon extends to all other areas of cultural production and consumption. The Bibliophagus is a hybrid insect that lives in hives like bees and feeds only on printed alphanumeric texts that it consumes in paragraphs. It chews them with the help of an acid called “criticasis” that turns into “informasis” when if fuses with the printing ink. This morsel passes through the mouths of all other Bibliophagi who each swallow a small bit of the morsel which is then carried by a “mediator” to all other hives. Soon everyone is duly informed, and the new information leads to a genetic mutation of the species. However, any redundancy in the chewed and swallowed text morsels leads to a cancerous growth that affects each single Bibliophagus and their species as a whole. For this reason, the species has an interest in the generation of texts that do not contain redundancies. In order to survive it must intervene in the process of generating texts. In the brain of a deceased writer, one discovers a Bibliophagus that is still alive. The writer who had the insect placed inside his brain via a trepanation had died of an overdose of “informasis”. The trepanation has already assumed an epidemic character and spread all over the world. The earlier longer Portuguese and English versions “Bibliophagus” are written from the subjective point of view of the writer narrating how he met the insect , whereas the much shorter German variant “Bibliophagus convictus” makes use of a more distanced third person point of view. A corresponding English version has already been published in Flusser Studies 13. The imaginary creature of the Bibliophagus convictus is foreshadowed in Flusser’s “Bichos Series (I-V)” that has also been published in this issue.

Bibliophagus English (PDF 282.21 KB)
Bibliophagus Portuguese (PDF 271.37 KB)

Reflexões Acerca da Ética do Artificial - Do Paradigma de Simon ao Paradoxo de Flusser

This essay aims to develop a critical dialogue between Herbert Simon’s and Vilém Flusser’s ideas about design by focussing on Simon’s The Sciences of the Artificial (1996) and a collection of Flusser’s writing on design, Codified Worldtowards a philosophy of design and communication, (Rafael Cardoso, ed., 2006). The essay begins with an analysis of the differences between the concepts of artificiality and project-design, contrasting the Simonian postulate of problem solving with the paradoxical Flusserian notion of obstacle for removing obstacles. Simonian utilitarianism and his discourse of technical neutrality are questioned by Flusser’s ideas about the need for a post-industrial design ethics. If Simon’s utilitarian approach concentrates on the technical efficiency of artifacts, Flusser’s existentialist perspective focuses on the communicative and dialogic aspects of objects, emphasizing the issues that revolve around the freedom and responsibility inherent in every creative act.

Ética do Artificial (PDF 145.45 KB)

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).

Recherche-création (PDF 349.86 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.

Between Representation and Projection: Music in Vilém Flusser’s Work

According to Vilém Flusser, music has a logical-mathematical structure that corresponds to the basis of human thought in general. “Pure music,” supposedly free of language in the strict sense, exemplifies this point. By being independent of representation and figuration, “pure music” reveals the development of Western thought, which Flusser would also theorize through the decoding of letters into numbers. For Flusser, the mathematical structure of thought represented by the concept of “pure music” also leads to the advent of machines and apparatus, similar to the way the decoding of words into numbers brings forth the abstraction of calculation. Computers, for instance, can project worlds onto the human senses with equally creative possibilities. The proximity between music and calculation allows for an understanding of music in contrast with musicological or historical approaches. In this sense, music is an element of Flusser's thought which anticipates some of his themes. Flusser's understanding of music as a mathematical concept independent of representation is further exemplified by his formulation of a telematic society based upon the model of chamber music.

Fluss/er. Circle – Spiral – Cloud

This text is an attempt to capture Flusser’s thinking and its evolution over the years by focusing on three interrelated images: the circle, the spiral and the cloud. The first two are based on Flusser’s translation and retranslation theory, which negates the notions of simple progress, linearity and hierarchy. The third one is related to the last phase of Flusser’s thinking organized around the notions of calculation and the dot-like structure of digital images. Clouds are seen as swarms of free-floating points of view created by calculatory combination, as fields of possibility. The text begins with a short reflection on Flusser’s own name suggesting a direct link between it and some central tenets of his philosophy. The proper name Flusser is an image that can be used to interpret Vilém Flusser’s own thinking.

Fluss/er (PDF 596.64 KB)

On Creativity: Blue Dogs with Red Spots

Anke Finger’s short article addresses Flusser’s understanding and use of “creativity” and “art-making” and presents his writing for the US art journal artforum: 20 columns, published between 1986 and 1991. This excerpt is taken from the last chapter in the forthcoming, co-authored English-language introduction to Flusser, published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Creativity (PDF 204.36 KB)