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.