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Towards a Philosophy of Photography Paperback – October 1, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-1861890764 ISBN-10: 1861890761 Edition: 0th
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

As both an art medium and a way to record events, photography has become ubiquitous in our increasingly image-driven culture since its invention in the early 1800s. These two interesting books take a serious academic look at how photography has influenced culture. Prague-born philosopher Flusser (1920-91) concerned himself with design, communication, and language. His illuminating essays, originally published in German in 1983, are offered in English for the first time. Flusser describes a world fundamentally changed by the invention of the "technical image" and the mechanisms that support and define industrialized modern culture. He argues that whereas ideas were previously interpreted by written account, the invention of photography allows the creation of images (ideas) taken at face value as truth, not interpretation that can be endlessly replicated and spread worldwide. His essays identify players in this model (his lexicon includes the Apparatus, the Functionary, and the Technical Image) and warn of rising illiteracy owing to an uncritical faith in photography's "reality." Flusser does not speak of specific photographs or images but of the larger forces at work in the increasingly technical and automated world. Unlike Flusser, Batchen (art and art history, Univ. of New Mexico) delves intricately into individual works to explicate his thoughts, digging into such topics as the invention of photography, the medium's impending demise, photography about photography, and "da(r)ta" digital art that comments on its own structure. Conveying a deep respect for the importance of photography, he laments the way images have become commodities in the digital age. Batchen also explores the history of photography and looks at larger cultural forces from within the framework of the medium. This collection of nine recent essays of various origins (with thorough notes and index) contains some repetition, but that small complaint is outweighed by Batchen's compelling arguments and analyses. Of interest to photographers, historians, and philosophers, both books will serve multiple audiences and are recommended for academic and large public libraries. Debora Miller, Minneapolis
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

A relatively little-known but significant text. -- Lindsay Smith, The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Studies
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861890761
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861890764
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Vilém Flusser (1920-1991) was born in Prague; emigrated to Brazil, where he taught philosophy and wrote a daily newspaper column; and later moved to France. Among his many books that have been translated into English are Does Writing Have a Future?, Into the Universe of Technical Images, and Writings, all from Minnesota.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Van Boeschoten on November 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book by Flusser is so densely written that it is a joy to come to it again and again. It gives you a deep understanding of photography and of camera's. The digital culture cannot be properly understood without this philosophical work. Culture and technology are framed in a precise and fascinating manner.
For anyone interested in digital culture this is a must.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Don Bronson on December 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm re reading it,but it was an introduction to some interesting problems in contemporary photography. I found it very inspiring
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. JO on October 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a supplement to Korean version of the same book, because the transfer of meanings can change slightly according to the language. This english version really helped to understand the original meaning of the author. (Original version was written in German as you may already know.)
If you are interested in photography and philosophy of photography, this book will help you a lot although it will be slightly difficult to understand the author's concept at the first chapter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert W Skeoch on August 9, 2013
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This is a short book but some great points are made. Maybe you don't agree with all of them, but it's interesting to read another's point of view about photography. Written at an advanced level, if you're casual about photographer, maybe pick something else. If you're trying to get a deeper perspective on photography then this is a useful read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey A Rhodes on December 25, 2013
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Flusser is the ONLY exciting theorist on the subject of Design, and this collection on Photography, mostly published in Art Forum in the 80s, is a very nice, post-digital, update to Roland Barthes.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ting Zhang on March 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Towards a Philosophy of Photography by Vilem Flusser is an astonishing and extremely inspiring book. It uses the simplest language to depict the most profound issues in photography. But it is not only about photography, it has to do with everyone of us. In the end, we have to know what we are living for is to find freedom. I feel I can die after I read this book. The reason I could not is that as a photographer and a human being, it is my duty to find the space for human struggle inside the apparatus.
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