New media and old philosophy: What can Vilm Flusser consider e-books?
BY ANKE FINGER
Affiliate professor of German studies and comparative literature in the College of Connecticut
Within an essay entitled “The New Imagination” (1990), Vilm Flusser emphasizes the requirement for a “critique of image critique” – and that he considered letters to become images too. He writes: “The straight line gesture of writing tears the pixels in the image surface, however it then threads these selected points (bits) torn in the images into lines. This threading phase from the straight line gesture negates its critical intention, for the reason that it accepts the straight line structure uncritically. … If a person uses a radical critique of images, you have to evaluate them.” Images, he insists, should be calculated and described, not threaded into linearity. This “new imagination,” because he calls it, is definitely an outgrowth, a direct result many years of writing around the technical imagination, so astutely presented in Flusser’s trilogy, printed within the 1980s ( Perfectly into a Philosophy of Photography. In to the World of Technical Images. and Does Writing Possess a Future? ). The shortest review of Flusser’s evolution of media, provided in the finish of the essay, reads the following: “First, man required one step away from his existence-world, to assume it. Then, man walked away from the imagination, to explain it. Then, man required one step away from the straight line, written critique, to evaluate it. And lastly, because of a brand new imagination, man forecasted synthetic images from analysis.”
These steps overlap, obviously, and we’ve not yet quite arrived at the 4g iphone. Nevertheless, Flusser suggests an extreme move following this lengthy good reputation for frequently threading critiques: he proposes one step forward perfectly into a critique, one step towards an imagination from computation, not from description and experience.
This imagination marks one step toward creativeness, toward “true expression,” and, based on him, turns homo faber (Man the Creator) into homo ludens (Man the gamer).
Everybody wants to experience – and new media frequently permit us to experience at our very own volition by building our very own critique or imagination (not too there’s a great deal of difference for Flusser here). The way forward for studying and writing, for Flusser, is one that’s enmeshed using the studying and writing of images, a procedure that may continually be creative and presents always a possible challenge. His media philosophy, focused mainly around the interconnectedness of text and image, proscribes non-linearity inasmuch as computation, calculation and analysis demand creativeness – they’re imaginative actions, not descriptive ones it’s not about collecting details or observations or about regurgitation.
So how exactly does that mean integrating new media platforms and gadgets for example Twitter or e-books into our way of life? Flusser could have been an unlikely Tweeter why restrict one’s input to some silly 140 figures? However, the types of dialog Twitter facilitates might have fascinated Flusser inasmuch because the networking and dialoging defies linearity. E-books, especially new versions such as the Amazon Kindle Fire, may have inspired his critique from the apparatus, this program, and also the images/letters presented.
Will we “see through” the top, will we understand and “play with” the actual program, the materiality of the items the “game” of e-books presents us with? Will the e-book let us break with the constructedness of itself, to arrange its purported magic?
For somebody who hammered away at his typewriter, an e-book may have been a wonderful machine, although one which Flusser likely would regard with skepticism. I lately considered Flusser after i found myself located on the commuter train from Grand Central station to Connecticut by having an army of readers, heads bent within the object within their laps, concurrently determined and aloof.
I had been the only person holding a magazine.
Everybody else handled an e-book or perhaps a smartphone (with apps for online books), “turning” “pages” (?) using the tip of the finger, cradling the slim plastic board both in hands as though the valued item would certainly be a waste.
We’re participating in a brand new imagination, so we enjoy playing. Whether we are prepared to calculate and compute the pictures we have seen with an e-book, though, remains seen. To date, we’re simply attempting to understand and evaluate the transition from linearity to circularity or systems, in the haptics of the book or image for their digital forms – forms informed by pixels and algorithms. Flusser calls our focus on these underlying levels – and challenges us to experience together.
Anke Finger is affiliate professor of German studies and comparative literature in the College of Connecticut. She’s co-author, with Rainer Guldin and Gustavo Bernardo, of Vilm Flusser: An Intro .
“Flusser is among our lost gems—the other McLuhan, and dare I only say the greater. A worldwide citizen writing alternately the german language, Portuguese, British, or French, Flusser meditated on words and gestures, translation and doubt, metropolitan areas and pictures. He would be a master from the essay form. In my opinion he’d the ear of both gods and men. Within this important book on Flusser we’re introduced the very first time in British to possibly our finest media philosopher.”
—Alexander R. Galloway. New You are able to College
“Flusser is among the world’s most fascinating theorists of communication and culture, yet his jobs are relatively unknown within the British-speaking world. Anke Finger, Rainer Guldin, and Gustavo Bernardo would be the most qualified scholars on the planet to supply this contextualizing summary of the complex variety of his work.”
—Douglas Kellner. UCLA
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