CfP: Vilém Flusser and His “Languages”

  • Deadline:
    Dec. 10, 2019, midnight
  • Location:
    Vilém Flusser Archive, Berlin University of the Arts, Grunewaldstr. 2–5, 10823 Berlin, Germany

Call for Papers
Conference Vilém Flusser and His “Languages”
May 11–12, 2020
CfP Deadline: December 10, 2019

2020 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Czech-Brazilian cultural theorist and philosopher Vilém Flusser (1920–1991). On this occasion, the aim of this two-day conference is to bring emerging and experienced artists and scholars together in order to discuss Flusser’s ideas and concepts on language and his philosophy of language. Flusser is relatively well known for his media theoretical concepts such as the telematic (or network) society or technical images, but less known for his deliberations on the philosophy of language.
Many thinkers also separate two main periods in Flusser’s oeuvre: 1) his early years in Brazil, when he developed his thought on languages; and 2) his later years in Europe, focussing on media and communication theories. Our event sees these phases not as divided stages of Flusser’s work, but instead, as continuous developments and results of his thought as there are important correlations between them. E.g. Flusser’s cybernetic arguments in his famous book Into the Universe of Technical Images (1985) can be traced back to his early work Language and Reality (1963).
Flusser wrote intensively in four languages: German, Portuguese, English, and French. However, he always rewrote and retranslated his texts from one language into another in order to complete a cultural translation in his own way. His style of writing is considered radically non-academic, essayistic, and artistic. He was a master of short essays that quickly come to the point and sometimes have an unexpected ending. Many scholars see his way of writing and thinking as a specific method of language use (e.g. Guldin 2016, Mozzini 2015) that is often considered as his own artistic practice (Marburger 2016). Therefore, in the title of the conference, we use “languages” to refer to Flusser’s individual way of playing with (and against) the limited tools of languages.

Topics of interest may include, but are not limited to:
- Flusser’s philosophy of language and influences from other thinkers (such as Carnap, Cassirer, Heidegger or Wittgenstein)
- Language and Reality (2017 [1963])
- Flusser’s relations to artists in his Brazilian years: their influence on his work on language-related theories (e.g. Mira Schendel or the members of the Concrete Poetry Movement)
- Understanding contemporary issues such as multilingualism, language and power, language and manipulation, and the obstacles of translation with the help of Flusser’s thought
- Flusser as a ‘science fiction writer’ (e.g. Vampyroteuthis Infernalis)

Furthermore, we also welcome papers which include reflective considerations on the following questions:
- How can Flusserian language inspire artistic (research) practices?
- What are the connections between Flusser’s early writings on language philosophy and his later contributions to media theory?
- Is Flusser (un)translatable?

We invite artists and scholars to submit abstracts (up to 300 words) about their research or artistic work related to the theme of the conference by 10 December 2019 to info [at] All proposals will be reviewed by the conference organizers and the selected presenters will be informed by 10 January 2020.

The presentation may take different forms: classic conference presentation, artist talk, performance, etc.

The conference proceedings will be published in the e-journal Flusser Studies.

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Maren Hartmann and Dr. Anita Jóri

Flusser, V. (2011 [1985]). Into the Universe of Technical Images. Trans. N. A. Roth. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.
Flusser, V. (2017 [1963]). Language and Reality. Trans. R. Maltez Novaes. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.
Guldin, R. (2016). Cotton Wool. On Flusserian Methodology and Terminology. Flusser Studies 22.
Marburger, M. (2016). From Science to Fiction. Considering Vilém Flusser as an Artist. Flusser Studies 22.
Mozzini, C. (2015). For a Flusserian Method. Flusser Studies 20.