“All revolutions are technological revolutions,” remarked Vilém Flusser in conversation with Florian Rötzer (“Alle Revolutionen sind technische Revolutionen,” in: KUNSTFORUM International, vol. 97, 1988). That also goes for the cultural upheaval of the 1980s, which, with the advent of new information technologies, promised the dematerialization of communication. Flusser, the seismographer and visionary of this new situation, was enthusiastic about the digital adventure, though not without a certain melancholy: “Away from paper” ran the slogan (“Hinweg vom Papier,” in: Die Revolution der Bilder, 1995), and if there was any point at all in composing texts anymore, then “into the electronic eld,” where discursive, finalized writing could be replaced by the dialogical, processual variety.
In 1986 Volker Rapsch and I founded Immatrix Publications, an undertaking whose aim was to experiment with new forms of publishing, and which brought out three German titles by Flusser during its existence: Die Schrift [Writing], Vampyroteuthis infernalis (both 1987), and Angenommen [Suppose That] (1989). The name “Immatrix” was suggested by Flusser himself, inspired by Matrix, his son Miguel’s software company, although Jean-François Lyotard’s highly regarded exhibition Les immatériaux at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1985 may have been the deciding factor (Flusser wrote a review of it).
The publication of Die Schrift was undoubtedly Immatrix’s most significant project, and consisted of three parts: (1) an edition of the book printed on paper; (2) a digital version on oppy disk; and (3) a plan to set up a mailbox (bulletin board system). As an early forerunner of today’s e-books – Immatrix advertised it as “the first true no-longer-abook [Nichtmehrbuch]” – the electronic edition of Die Schrift, supplied on one program and one text diskette, allowed readers not only to receive the text, but also to comment on it, continue writing it, rearrange it.
The associated plan of transferring this feedback on diskette to a mailbox platform was never realized, however. The projected conversion of the book Vampyroteuthis infernalis into a graphic e-book never happened either. In 1989, Immatrix Publications was dissolved, first passing into Edition Immatrix im Verlag European Photography and then becoming part of Edition Flusser shortly thereafter.