Published in the magazine Íris, this essay provides a summary of Flusser’s conception of the relationship between the photographer and the photographic apparatus. This text did not reach the Brazilian readership at large until 1985 with the publication of the book A Filosofia da Caixa Preta [The Philosophy of the Black Box].
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 futuro e a cultura da imagem” , written in 1983, and “A urgência de uma filosofia da fotografia” , written in 2002.