Into the Universe of Technical Images (Flusser’s book)

Especially compared to either Towards a Philosophy of Photography (English translation, 2000) or Does Writing Have a Future? (2011) this work is optimistic about the potential of digital technology to expand, enhance, effectively “humanize” communication.  More exactly, it’s ambivalent.  These technologies may, he suggests, make our lives richer, more creative than ever before, or they may lead to something like “heat death,” a society of unbearable, paralysing boredom.

Flusser has a value system.  It isn’t explicitly stated in every context.  But he consistently understands human communication to be the whole point of human life, and communications technology — from hieroglyphs to digital encoding — a series of more or less effective routes to immortality, our intrinsically and perhaps uniquely human desire.  He feels sure that technical images — technologies that start with photography and evolved to include film and sound recording along with digital means of producing meaningful sounds and surfaces — could be used to join people together creatively, to recognise and celebrate their uniqueness.  But he also sees clearly that these technologies are hardly ever being used in this way now,  “now” being about 1985 when the book was first published.

“Now” now means 2011, and one may wonder how much, and in what ways the “picture” he presents has changed.


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