Vilem Flusser, Into the Universe of Technical Images, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011
Flusser: Technical Images
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Thanks for looking at the site. I am currently thinking of my writing in three parts: 1.) papers read or published in an academic context, including those about the writing of Vilem Flusser (1920-1991) 2.) art and photography criticism, and 3.) accounts of small events or situations from experience, pieces I take to be “non-fiction”. There is a more complete list in the c.v. Translation is listed separately.
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Flusser is well-known as a “media theorist,” and hardly known at all as a “games theorist.” But games figure often and prominently in his thinking and writing from the time of his earliest publications in the 1960s. I’m honoured to be a contributor to a new volume called Understanding Flusser, Understanding Modernism, edited by Aaron Jaffe and published at Bloomsbury, probably 2020. I hope to use the opportunity to locate Flusser in contemporary game studies, in the understanding that his position is likely to rest on assumptions very different from those that now prevail (The same difficulty surrounds Flusser’s current reputation in the history and theory of photography.).
Simply by using the phrase homo ludens, for example, which he did with some regularity, Flusser made reference to Johan Huizinga’s book Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. Written in 1938, it has been translated and reprinted many times since, and at this point counts among the “founding texts” of the comparatively new academic discipline of game studies. Both Huizinga and Flusser take the potential for “play” to be a basic, defining human characteristic. Huizinga argues that humans developed civilisations as a result of their capacity to play; Flusser frames the capacity to play as what separates human beings from their devices.
The image: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Childrens’ Games, 1560, oil on board, 45 x 63″, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.