Iconoclasm and Beyond: Vilém Flusser's Concept of Techno-Imagination

Rainer Guldin


Western thinking about pictures is characterized by a strong tendency rewards iconoclasm. Within this theoretical framework any attempt at thinking in pictures ultimately leads to idolatry and irrational behavior. As a reaction to this, some theoreticians writing in the wake of the iconic turn tend to extol what they call pure visibility. Vilém Flusser's writings, on the other hand, deal with the constantly evolving relationship of image and text. He does not simply reject the accusations of the hazards inherent in picture making put forward by the iconoclasts but tries to steer a middle-course in an attempt at reconciliation. His concept of techno-imagination is an answer to the invention of the new media of photography, film, video, TV and computer, in an attempt to draw philosophical and ethical conclusions from their use. To be properly understood techno-images need techno-imagination which is both a reading of pictures and an act of creative pictorial invention bringing out unexpected situations from among a given field of possibilities. Calculated, digital images, in fact, allow a radically new view of the gesture of picture making transcending a purely representational interpretation. Techno-imagination implies a move away from the search of "objectivity" in favor of an inter-subjective way of dealing with pictures. Picture making has to do with the creation of a new sense of doubt regarding the world by multiplying points-of-view and making them available to others. Keywords: iconoclasm 


iconoclasm; techno-imagination; inter-subjectivity; photography; digital pictures

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Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896