While insight used to mean a journey into abstraction, to the point of obliterating the world, the computer gave Vilém Flusser access to a new understanding of what insight is. For with the computer it became possible, using abstraction and mathematical-logical processes, to draw up models simulating complex realities within one’s own reality. With the computer, one can project onto screens three-dimensional moving objects or worlds made up of the numbers, points, or pixels obtained by means of abstraction, in accordance with variable rules.
If we take an analogous view of human understanding, says Flusser, then the epistemological subject straightens up from its posture of subjection to objectivity and becomes a project. This is not only an epistemological turn but also an ethical one. As science, to put it plainly, has retreated ever farther away from the tangible world on its journey of abstraction, humanity is now beginning to turn and face what it had been unable to accept, what had been a black hole behind its back – to light up the darkness with its projections and, perhaps, make that darkness its home. In the production of the improbable, Flusser regarded as a “project” the teleology – or better yet, perhaps, the ethics – of humanity projecting itself and the world from out of the space of possibility.
Original article by Florian Rötzer