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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)

Flusser, La Force du Quotidien, Mame, 1973. Histoire d’une édition et d’une occasion manquée

This essay tells the story of Vilém Flusser’s first French publication, La Force du Quotidien, published in 1973 by the editor Mame. It is a collection of short phenomenological essays examining everyday objects such as mirrors, books, cars and beds.

Mame (PDF 376.79 KB)

Vilém Flusser et Abraham Moles: le fond et la forme d’une « affinité combative »

The central role that Abraham Moles played in Vilém Flusser's thought during the first years after his return to Europe in 1972 is indisputable. Certain personal coincidences are striking: they were born in the same year 1920, and they died six months apart (respectively in November 1991 and in May 1992). From a theoretical point of view, the affinities between the two friends are also remarkable: if the interest in the phenomenon of cybernetics connected them, it is the aesthetics of communication open to phenomenology that allowed them a fruitful exchange.
But there is a third element, more formal and less known: their paradoxical Jewishness. The reference to the Golem myth, which appears as the background of their cybernetic thoughts, seems to refer to the Judaic substratum that animated their method of study involving heated discussions.
Thus, after some biographical data, these three elements provide the general outline of the article: the cybernetic approach, the phenomenological method, and the Talmudic practice. The goal is to show how the relationship between Vilém Flusser and Abraham Moles shows that, beyond intellectual gestures, in which they sought, in a perpetual effort, to regroup (the law of “elective affinities”), real “combative affinities” remain, resisting the entropy of the world and eternal oblivion.

Moles (PDF 402.8 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)

Rethinking Interology with Flusser

Motivated as much by a deep concern with the rapidly evolving human condition as by intellectual curiosity, this article reveals the problem-driven and futurological nature of Flusserian interology [Deleuze]. It proposes that compared to traditional ontology, the notion of interality and the dynamics of interology offer us a more adequate way of thinking through our situation in the here and now and in the immediate future. The secondary motive is to turn Flusser’s media philosophy into a pointillist verbal art, a techno-ethics, and an intertopia befitting the digital era.

Rethinking Interology (PDF 465.71 KB)

"Für eine Phänomenologie des Fernsehens" III: Nam June Paik und eine künstlerische Phänomenologie

When Vilém Flusser arrived at the conference held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in January 1974 he did not know that an artist was responsible both for the conception and the title of the meeting. Flusser aspired to develop his media theory differently and in front of a completely different philosophical background as McLuhan. Nam June Paik, at that time in his zenith, most likely influenced Flusser philosophically as well as in terms of art examples and much more than Flusser was ready to admit in his short reference to one of Paik’s early non-electronic pre-video films. It is a bit strange that Flusser shied away from the confrontation with art in and with television. It is all the more important to determine the theoretical space that Nam June Paik must have opened to Flusser and others. Against this background it becomes clear that Flusser was able to approach the heritage of phenomenology in a more open und artistic, that is, in a more literary and essayistic way.

"Für eine Phänomenologie des Fernsehens" II: das Schicksal eines Texts und der Wechsel zur Fotografie

Although Vilém Flusser’s text „Für eine Phänomenologie des Fernsehens“ is only 21 pages long there is no other text in his oeuvre that shows the same concern  for philosophical and methodological reflection. A first, incompletely elaborated version for the New York symposium in January 1974 was published with a four years delay. However, the definitive version Flusser provided has not been published. A new object of research is superimposed onto the unlucky old enterprise of a theory of television.

"Für eine Phänomenologie des Fernsehens" I: Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Immanuel Kant und Günther Anders

Although Flusser does not explain and develop his philosophical and methodological claims on the first three pages of his mini treatise „Für eine Phänomenologie des Fernsehens“ (1997 <1974>), there is enough evidence for Flusser’s fundamentally phenomenological credo. The philosophers of Flusser’s implicit references can be unmistakably detected: Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Immanuel Kant and Günther Anders. On the one hand, Flusser appears to be strongly rooted in the phenomenological tradition. On the other, in a text on Husserl’s (late) philosophy written in 1986/87, Flusser reveals that he had changed his mind in the meantime turning to a sociology of media that dispenses with the phenomenological stance that was the main aim of his thinking on media in the 1970ies.

Naturalmente artificiale. Natura e cultura a volo d’uccello

What can still be defined as ‘authentic’ in our world today? Is it true that we are interested only in the ‘authentic’ nature (or what we think it is)? What does ‘authentic’ mean in relation to nature? In the essays of Vogelflüge, published for the first time in São Paulo in 1979 under the title Natural: mente, Vilém Flusser investigates the paradoxical connection between the concepts of authenticity and artificiality, proposing the cultural form of nature as a model of the natural form of culture. As occasional philosophy from a bird’s-eye perspective, the volume is the expression of an experimental method of thought and writing, which corresponds to the essentially utopian nature of the human being. The full postmodern consciousness of the difference between the need for authenticity and the impossibility of satisfying it, explains Flusser’s phenomenologically distanced, yet poetic approach to the natural simulacra of his own culture.

Naturalmente artificiale (PDF 246.94 KB)

What Can Arnheim Learn from Flusser (and Vice Versa)?

This paper fills a gap in Flusser scholarship by conducting an initial comparison of Flusser with Rudolf Arnheim. After noting their similar approaches – open both to science and phenomenology – it looks closely at each theorist’s respective theory of photography. They differ in that Flusser believes that the photography as a technical apparatus is not objective. However, with some contextualization each can be seen to say complementary things. Reflecting on each theorist’s cautiously optimistic or pessimistic approach to evolving media, the paper concludes with thoughts on how they give helpful ideas on how to flesh out aspects of the other’s thought.

Arnheim and Flusser (PDF 169.37 KB)

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