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In fact, Vilém Flusser did not like the term “media” at all – and that is why it is wrong to refer to him as a media philosopher. To him, “media” was a distortion of Latin, and he rarely resorted to the term or only used it colloquially. However, he was interested in what connected and bound together the means of expression that are speci c to communication. According to Flusser’s Kommunikologie [Communicology], such means are “structures (material or not, technological or not), in which codes function” (Kommunikologie, 1996, p. 271; translated from the German). This evidences a very broad, almost arbitrary concept of media.

Based on this concept of media, Flusser does not only turn his attention to the media traditionally taught in departments of social communication or journalism, but also media related to the classroom, the body, or even football. Schools usually teach media involved in work practices, which limits analysis to known media and at the same time limits the theories that deal with them. That is why only television, print media, and marketing are addressed, but not others that might be much more significant, such as a waiting room in a doctor’s surgery or the kitchen.

What is important is that we are able to orient ourselves in the media that surround us; thus for Flusser, the constitutive criterion is “not the attractiveness of media for future careers nor their greater or smaller impact on us, but the dynamics that media introduce into the ow of codes between receiver and sender” (ibid., pp. 271–272; translated from the German). “According to this principle two main classes of media can be identified: those where the codified message flows from the memory of a sender to the memory of a receiver, and those where codified messages are exchanged between different types of memory. The first class of media are discursive media, and the second class are dialogic media. Examples of the first category are ads and the cinema; stock markets and a public village square are examples of the second.” (ibid., p. 272; translated from the German) Therefore, the criterion Flusser chooses is very fruitful, because applying it determines future hierarchical relations and their immediate political effects.

As a matter of fact, separating sender and receiver makes no sense for dialogic media, but it does make sense for discursive media, because at a certain point discursive media can become dialogic, which enables them to change the direction of the message. In discursive media the position of the receiver cannot be changed within the same medium; one has to use another medium if one wishes to become a sender. An illustration of this is newspapers: to reply to this sender of messages, we can write a letter to the editor, but there is no guarantee that our letter will appear in a later issue of the newspaper.

Original article by Breno Onetto Muñoz

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media.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/05 17:47 by