Vilém Flusser’s Gesten [Gestures] and Kommunikologie [Communicology] he conceived as a video philosopher, as someone who wants to explore how freedom is imaginable and how this thinking changes in different symbolic and media forms. The first years after Flusser returned to Europe, to 1970s France, were crucial in the formulation of this question. Here his research for the São Paulo Biennial was fruitful. At Flusser’s suggestion, the French artist Fred Forest was invited to the Bienal de Artes Plásticas de São Paulo in 1973 (Forest, “Fred Forest: Biographie,” in: Art Sociologique, 1977, p. 433). Flusser, in turn, published his first texts in French with the assistance of Fred Forest and Abraham A. Moles.
Flusser’s dialogue with Fred Forest was fundamentally different to his earlier dialogues with Brazilian friends. For in his dialogue with this artist, technical practice becomes a main factor, specifically, in the form of portable video equipment by Sony. Through Forest, Flusser acquired a specific approach to the theory of electronic media. This is why he calls video an “intersubjective epistemological instrument” (“L’art sociologique et la vidéo à travers la dé-marche de Fred Forest,” in: Art Sociologique, 1977, p. 411; translated from the French). In contrast to film, which Flusser regarded as a continuation of cave painting, video is an electronic medium that modulates electromagnetic waves temporarily. Because of this wave structure, it is epistemically more open.
But Flusser did feel the lack of a personal and direct access to the technology when the video artist portrayed him in the years 1972 to 1974. Forest never let Flusser hold the camera, and no second camera was around to record the quarrel that flared up between the filming artist and the filmed philosopher.
Original article by Nils Röller