Chamber music is Vilém Flusser’s utopian model for dialogic, telematic communication. He sees it as a network of interconnected people and machines, who make up a cybernetic superbrain, with the function of producing new information. Flusser’s definition of catastrophes as the creation of new information, is central: true catastrophes are as unpreventable as they are unpredictable, they can only arise out of “improbable situations” (Into the Universe of Technical Images, 2011, p. 161). Each player, akin to the figure of homo ludens, is at once a sender and receiver of information in the network with the aim of synthesizing “new information” through dialogue and “new imagination” (neue Einbildungskraft).
Its significant position as the last chapter of Into the Universe of Technical Images* shows the extent to which this musical metaphor plays a crucial role in his thought. Flusser breaks with the hitherto absence of the aural and oral in his thoughts in Into the Universe of Technical Images, and defines the character of technical images as audiovisual. With reference to Renaissance and jazz ensembles, rules are determined by consensus, yet improvisation is demanded, in the process of which the rules are collectively changed. Flusser synthesizes the two positions of Arthur Schopenhauer’s alignment of the world of will as music, and the world of representation as images, with his assertion that technical images are “audiovisual images”; not simply mixed, but elevated to a new level. In the universe of technical images, “[c]ompose and compute are synonyms” (ibid., p. 164). In his overarching thesis of the step into a “zero-dimensional” world of technical images, “pure” art is possible, “free of any semantic dimension” (ibid.), which was previously only realizable through music. Therein he places his hope of a new level of consciousness, “that makes music with visionary power” (ibid., p. 165), with imagination (Einbildungskraft).
* The English edition, with nineteen main chapters, differs from the German edition, which has twenty chapters, and the Portuguese edition, which has sixteen chapters.
Original article by Annie Goh in Flusseriana