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Towards a Philosophy of Photography di Vilem…
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Towards a Philosophy of Photography (edizione 2000)

di Vilem Flusser

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Media philosopher Vilém Flusser proposed a revolutionary new way of thinking about photography. An analysis of the medium in terms of aesthetics, science and politics provided him with new ways of understanding both the cultural crises of the past and the new social forms nascent within them. Flusser showed how the transformation of textual into visual culture (from the linearity of history into the two-dimensionality of magic) and of industrial into post-industrial society (from work into leisure) went hand in hand, and how photography allows us to read and interpret these changes with particular clarity.… (altro)
Utente:ianpkirk
Titolo:Towards a Philosophy of Photography
Autori:Vilem Flusser
Info:Reaktion Books (2000), Paperback, 176 pages
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca
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Per una filosofia della fotografia di Vilém Flusser

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If you have to study photography as I currently do, you need to think about it. Flusser aims to provide enough to get us started, and like all philosophies, it’s intended to just be a starting point. For that, it does okay although, having been published in 1983, it felt dated in parts.

Part of the reason it hasn’t aged as well as it could have is that Flusser draws on the technology of his day to frame his ideas. So, we have talk of apparatuses and other mechanical devices.

This doesn’t stop the reader following his arguments however. We can still easily understand the idea of the camera as a ‘black box’ which the user cannot have complete control over. In fact, with the advances in technology, this idea is even more salient that it was forty years ago and will only become more so.

The fact that the book is dated is perhaps more of an issue for the philosophical ideas themselves. Flusser questions whether the photographer is subservient to the agendas of the photographic program which he describes as the entire industry of photography.

There’s such a clear link between this thinking and the ideas that were ruling his native Czechoslovakia at the time that I feel he must be questioned. Just because there was a programme attempting to control the actions of pretty much every citizen beyond the Iron Curtain, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the photographer is subject to a similar programme.

Photographers are as subject to techinical confinement as any other artist and, I believe they always have been. Michaelangelo got the Sistine Chapel ceiling done successfully because he understood how to use the available technology. He didn’t need to fully understand the physics involved in pigments and plaster, only enough to get the job done.

Where he is spot on is in saying that the photograph needs to be acknowledged as a technological advance with the same impact on society as writing or the wheel. I don’t think we’ve even begun to come to terms its impact and everyone just seems to take it for granted. To do so seems to me to be an incredibly dangerous act of moral naivety which will cost us in the future if it hasn’t already done so.

Flusser gives up after fewer than 100 pages so you can be forgiven for finishing it frustrated. Take comfort in the fact that it’s just a starting point. His ideas are still worthy of discussion today, but I don’t think they should be taken without question. In answering the questions he causes us to ask, we will form our own philosophies that will serve our own purposes. ( )
  arukiyomi | Dec 27, 2020 |
Brief. Fascinating. According to Flusser, we’re caught, it seems, in a Kafkaesque condition of non-freedom, swallowed up so to speak by our apparatuses. He describes two historical paradigm shifts: the invention of writing, which he situates in the second millennium BCE and the invention of photography in the 19th century. He states that the first humans were surrounded by their tools; then, as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution, humans began to surround their machines; finally, after the invention of photography, humans came to reside within their image-making apparatuses, inside the thoroughly programmed and programmable black boxes of their cameras (shorthand for all systems that self-program by means of feedback). Flusser depicts information technologies that produce redundant and non-original images, as well as political and economic systems that are themselves apparatuses, as entities that use humans for their own evolution and success rather than vice versa. This idea reminds me of Michael Pollen’s The Botany of Desire with its claim that we are used by that which we purport to use. Flusser also brings to mind Foucault in the sense that his philosophy allows for only the most elusive and problematic possibility of human agency. For Flusser this potential/ possibility is located in what he calls “experimental” photography in which a photographer intentionally subverts an apparatus and thus creates a kind of free space. Unfortunately, Flusser provides neither a definition of nor specific examples of such experimental photography. This might be because both definitions and examples are inherently shifty and shifting, impossible to pin down from one post-industrial, post-historical “now” to the next. Flusser’s references to the lost linearity of history almost make me nostalgic. I’ve become so used to devaluing stodgy linear progression in favor of non-linear multiple points of view and chance operations (in life, but most especially in art) that I’m quite surprised by the longing for such an historical model that Flusser’s writing provokes in me. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
SUMÁRIO:

[007] - 01. A Imagem;
[013] - 02. A Imagem Técnica;
[019] - 03. O Aparelho;
[029] - 04. O Gesto de Fotografar;
[037] - 05. A Fotografia;
[045] - 06. A Distribuição da Fotografia;
[053] - 07. A Recepção da Fotografia;
[061] - 08. O Universo Fotográfico;
[071] - 09. A Necessidade de uma Filosofia da Fotografia;
[077] - 10. Glossário para uma Futura Filosofia da Fotografia.
(.)
  SaraivaOrelio | Mar 16, 2013 |
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Media philosopher Vilém Flusser proposed a revolutionary new way of thinking about photography. An analysis of the medium in terms of aesthetics, science and politics provided him with new ways of understanding both the cultural crises of the past and the new social forms nascent within them. Flusser showed how the transformation of textual into visual culture (from the linearity of history into the two-dimensionality of magic) and of industrial into post-industrial society (from work into leisure) went hand in hand, and how photography allows us to read and interpret these changes with particular clarity.

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