This text was written in 1983 after a meeting of specialists in different areas in Albi, France to discuss “the future of culture.” Despite a range of positions, there was widespread agreement in 1982 that an image-based culture would be a constant in the future. It was essential to understand the role that culture would play in post-industrial society.
Czech philosopher Vilém Flusser (1920–91) lived in São Paulo for nearly two decades after fleeing Nazism. Ironically, he returned to Europe in 1972 pursuant to the harshening of the military dictatorship in Brazil in power from 1964 to 1985 and the oppressive climate in the country. He wrote a series of works on the philosophy of language that reflects on the links between contemporary man and new image technologies. This article is one of a group of thirteen essays published in the magazine Íris from 1982 to 1985, the years when democracy was slowly returning to Brazil (Flusser was living abroad by that time). Ricardo Mendes, who wrote his dissertation on Flusser, asserts that the Czech philosopher’s ideas brought a new air to the stifled atmosphere surrounding photography in the country at a time when the thinking of post-structuralist and semiotic theorists—in particular Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag—was extremely influential. Flusser was in contact, during that period, with Stefania Bril and Arlindo Machado, both of whom communicated his theory as critics for major São Paulo newspapers. Flusser’s work was also influential among some artist-researchers.
During his brief stays in New York in the seventies, Flusser analyzed the paintings Antonio Henrique Amaral (1935?2015) was making on the banana theme at the time, work with which his production would come to be identified (see “Campos de batalha: tornar visível o invisível ? mudar nossa maneira de viver” ). Other texts by Flusser on photography include “O instrumento do fotógrafo ou o fotógrafo-instrumento?” , written in 1982, and “A urgência de uma filosofia da fotografia” , written in 2002.