Thuistezien 123 — 19.12.2020

Prof. Dr. Marcel René Marburger
Considering Vilém Flusser as an Artist

‘Art should save us all’. As part of the 2016 symposium on the Brazilian Czech-born philosopher Vilém Flusser organized by West, prof. dr. Marcel René Marburger delves into the visions of Vilém Flusser on innovation within communication, and how that directly applies to innovation within the arts. Marburger, having written his doctoral dissertation on the art theoretical relevance in Flusser’s writing, and having spent three years in Berlin as the scientific supervisor of the Flusser archive among other endeavors, proposes Flusser as an artist first and foremost. And also, closely reading his diverse oeuvre from every angle, that Flusser thought of himself as an artist.

In his theoretical and phenomenological approach, Flusser talks about art as having the creative intention to want to grasp phenomena in their essence, without distorting them. This is an intention to capture the remarkable, the strange. Such an innovative view of reality, where the unknown takes central place, directly impacts how art is made, exhibited and received. Flusser particularly challenges how art is communicated to broad publics. If art would be just its object, it would be a bad dialogue partner. Objects ‘speak, but don’t listen, and can’t answer’… How to reconnect art with life? Is a question for exhibition makers and demands curatorial engagement, where communication theory should be the go-to method.

Following communication theory, where relationships between artist – curator – recipient are emphasized, the whole structure of exhibitions can be questioned. Exhibitions turn into laboratories, senders and receivers can connect and interact, and the arts in this way become responsible for designing the world. Holography, virtual realities, cyberspace – artists are in charge of these yet unknown realities. Expressing and reinterpreting realities (through for example ‘philosophy fiction’) then become an artistic practice, as well as a scientific method. And accordingly, ‘art should save us all’ in reinventing reality through a dialogical approach. This challenges and confronts science and its way of only drawing upon past knowledge, bringing up further questions for debate. What is real creativity? Can we take the role of the artist as a strategy of survival? How does one present art and knowledge in a global way? And what implications would this have on the possibilities for social engagement, education, architecture, design, or even biotech?

The lecture by Prof. Dr. Marcel René Marburger is followed by a panel discussion with PD Dr. Peter Mahr, Dr. Fiona Hanley, Dr. Polona Tratnik, Dr. Rainer Guldin, Steffi Winkler and Dr. phil. Baruch Gottlieb.

Text: Yael Keijzer