Posts Tagged ‘Vilem Flusser’

The interior image?

July 19, 2012 Comments off

In Trauma TV, her complex analysis of the Rodney King video, Avital Ronell notes how the image’s flatness and lack of interiority was compensated by witness testimony in the courtroom. It is this position of interiority that is sought for in the works of Dziga Vertov Group, and other films by Jean Luc-Godard. If the exteriority of the image, purported by the position of the lens and consequently the figure looking through it, could be transformed into its opposite, then the positions of the activist and filmmaker could potentially align. This interior position is supported theoretically by a mode of Marxist self-reflexivity, constantly conscious of the producers position within the conditions of production.

British Sounds, Dziga Vertov Group, 1969, vimeo still frame

In the final section of British Sounds – a film that intersperses chronicles of the worker’s struggles, together with separate Marxist and Feminist voice-overs, mixed with footage from Marxist workers discussions, activist students, etc – we see a bloody hand gripping a red flag, this is followed by a set of shots that show a fist penetrating the British flag, and each time the flag is torn by the fist, the voice over names another solidarity front e.g. the squatters, the artists’ offensive, the Workers New Daily, etc. This scene is then followed by a shot of a red flag waving in the cloudy grey sky by the branches of a leafless tree. Watched closely, it becomes clear that rather that the camera shooting the flag from a fixed position, the camera itself is waving together with the flag, the flag is not moving within the fixed frame of the film, the film is framed by the movement of the flag. The camera suddenly reveals its own position vis-a-vis the action that it is set to capture, and represent, and exposes how it is in fact captured by it. This scene is an instant of the mentioned interiority sought by the filmmaker, an interior image that is not propelled by an exterior positioning, ideologically, aesthetically or otherwise. This is also the position that possibly the Rodney King video lacks and thus is reduced to evidence. It aspires to be a witness, but it is caught by its own flatness, it becomes its own gag.

Could it be that the contemporary modes of digital image production, with its unprecedented immediacy, economy of access and mobility, allows for a visual interiority, previously unavailable? While, the video incursion into television that Ronlell talks about still holds, and this form of image making has been recuperated by the news media, nevertheless an outstanding number of indigenous footage is disseminated over the web daily. However, it could be argued that this footage is nonetheless defined by the technological restrains and possibilities that give rise to it and potentially follows pre-defined modes of visual articulation. Yet, one wonders if the Flusserian shift from linear/textual articulation to the visual dimension is gradually taking shape.

Shifting locations

May 22, 2012 Comments off

The image on the internet is an image of the internet. Its provenance does not lose its relevance, but it is re-rendered after it is encoded into HTML.  Thus the image is subject to the modes of application, taxonomy, access and classification on the internet. As such the series of interfaces, and the lines of encryption that assign its location are part and parcel of its modes of signification. Each of these processes further “inform” the image in Flusserian terms.

youtube in the room, Constant Dullaart, youtube still frame

Artist Constant Dullaart, for instance, investigates how these digital vernaculars affect human gestures e.g. in becoming a DVD player’s screen saver in Joshua Tree, California; or how what was known as video, is now filtered through an online interface e.g. youtube in the room, where the youtube play button stands between the room and the camera. In this piece, it also prompts to certain objectivity of the interface as the sign is printed on transparency and held in front of the camera, and thus at times a reflection makes the filtering layer visible. It is a play button that does not operate in a click. This however does not imply a mere reduction of discourse to medium specificity, rather, it is a shifting location of experience that is significant. While for instance the urban and landscape experience was for the most part a horizontal one (with the exception of post WW I reconnaissance), now it is a combination of a vertical and a horizontal form of navigation. Thus the image of the city, has changed as it is encountered through navigation interfaces and maps. This shift of location of experience is highlighted in many of contemporary commercials, online and on television, where the product is advertised through a series of actions performed by the protagonist on a gadget, mostly a device that takes photos, a touchscreen browser, or a combination of both. Needless to say that these are not advertisement of the mediatory device. Thus an experience that is not worthy of mediation is discarded and unworthy of being advertised.

Premier League – Last moments – My Reaction. Manchester City win Title. United Fan. CJB, youtube still frame

As explained in the title, the youtube video Premier League – Last moments – My Reaction. Manchester City win Title. United Fan. CJB, shows a man’s reaction to the final minutes of Champion’s league final game. In the video we see a man watching soccer, in his living room, sometimes talking to his girlfriend (who we do not see), while we also see that two laptop computers logged onto Facebook on two coffee tables. Here, a feeling (of loss in this case) is experienced through its online representation, without which is not worth feeling. The video though, is hardly unique, there were too many reactions to the final minutes of the game online that talkSPORTmagazine has created an online compilation of them. Nevertheless, although these emotions were not experienced offline, they are hardly unique to each individual.

February 9, 2012 Comments off


Since the invention of photography (the first technical image) in 19th century, there started a gradual shift in the relationship between art and images at large. Cameras soon became a household object, and remembrance freed itself from historical significance. Technical history of photography involves the acceleration of the time of production—from eight hours in Nicéphore Niépce’s View from the Window at Le Gras (1826) to fragments of a second—and the shortening of the gap between the production and reception of the image. The shorter these two processes, the more ubiquitous technical images become.

The image, after being subsumed under art since the Reformation, freed itself from it. In the contemporary age of digital hyper realism, image regained some of the features it held “before the age of art”. Images are no longer guarded by the laws of aesthetics to be produced, evaluated, and distributed. Images of surveillance and science for instance, operate outside aesthetic categories. Before the Reformation, images had power over human beings: they could redeem, punish or praise them. Now in the age of technical image, they define possibilities of presentation, movement, and action. Seen from this perspective, in both of these instances, pre-Reformation and post-photography, affect human life.

a) Archetypical image, image as value

The new image is not a manifestation of god in visual form, as in the images before era of art, but rather, in the words of Vilem Flusser, images have become models for their receiver’s actions. Flusser argues that it would be a mistake to assume images are windows through which we can interpret the world outside. Rather, the process of signification is reversed and the world is becoming subordinate to the image. Flusser writes, “human beings forget they created the images in order to orientate themselves in the world. Since they are no longer able to decode them, their lives have become a function of their images; imagination has turned into hallucination.” His work is a plea for a philosophy of photography, where through visual literacy man once again manages to interrupt what he calls the “apparatus” (which camera is one example of) A philosophy of photography is necessary for raising photographic practice to the level of consciousness and this practice gives rise to a model of freedom in the post-industrial (where information becomes currency) context. But apocalyptic visual studies aside, through this type of image, visualization and valorization become one and the same. Economy and manifestation of culture become inseparable in a process of mutual validation. [02/09]