Vilém Flusser Residency 2012: Georgios Papadopoulos


The Vilém Flusser Residency Programme for Artistic Research supports projects and activities which are simultaneously conceptual and practice-based. The programme is geared towards the initiation of new research or to the further development of existing projects.


For Vilém Flusser, theory and praxis are intrinsically tied to each other. His nomadic thinking was shaped by a philosophy of positions, experimental testing of different ways of thinking and the linking of different disciplines and methodologies played a significant role in his work. Not the search for the truth but rather the playing around with the aesthetic constitution of truth characterised his thinking, often developed in dialogue with others. A fundamental principle of his philosophy is the dialogue between the disciplines, points of view and methodologies. Knowledge production as a dialogue between different standpoints, such as between science and art, laboratory and applied research, old and new media, local and global forms of organisation, is therefore the guiding principle for the concept of artistic research, which is supported by the Vilém Flusser Residency Programme for Artistic Research.


The residency programme is a cooperation between the _vilém_flusser_archive at the University of Arts (UDK) and transmediale, festival for art and digital culture Berlin. The last residency call was reviewed by Claudia Becker (Vilém Flusser Archive), Julian Oliver (artist) and Kristoffer Gansing (transmediale artistic director). 


Part I: Vilém Flusser Residency 2012: Project Description

Part II: Vilém Flusser Residency 2012: Resumé


Vilém Flusser Residency 2012: Georgios Papadopoulos - Iconographies of the Drachma. Speculation on the Symbolic Value

The idea for the residency and also for the Drachma Project is to reflect on the meaning of visual and non-verbal representations of economic and social interaction. The question of aesthetics and of art is obviously related. The intention is to address and interrupt affective investments in the dominant social ideology, in consumption and production, and this intention has led to experiment not only with theory, but also with negotiating a contested space between image and word, between language and art. Banknotes provide a pre-eminent example of such an 'inter-mediation'. Georgios Papadopoulos and a couple of visiting artists will trace the process of national identity-building from the viewpoint provided by the visual representations within the currency, while questioning how economic value and political power are articulated and communicated in currency. These representations open a window to the workings of the monetary apparatus and its operating ideology. Currency provides a specific frame of reference for the analysis, constraining theoretical and artistic speculation through the visual syntax of notes and coins. Papadopoulos and the others employ these constraints creatively and productively in order to suggest a new iconography for a contemporary post-crisis identity.


Vilém Flusser's thought is extremely relevant for the investigation of money. The question of the representation of value in the era of technical images is particularly pertinent for the problematic of the residency. Flusser's work on apparatuses is relevant, as well as his ontological interrogation of the status of technical images and the specific type of representational thinking that photography makes possible. Currency and banknotes especially, seem to be between traditional and technical images, while they share some of the ontological attributes of the latter. They promote the same kind of magical thinking, but this time in relation to value. We could rephrase Flusser and speculate that 'the function of banknotes is to liberate their receivers by magic from the necessity of thinking about economic value, at the same time replacing historical consciousness with a second-order magical consciousness and replacing the ability to think conceptually with a second order imagination'.


The residency will establish a temporary production office in the Vilém Flusser Archive to assemble and edit the artistic and discursive material thus far generated by the Drachma project. The initial part of the work will be to transform the materials of the research project into texts and images that can be freely disseminated (and distorted) in multiple media. A guiding interest in this transformation is to test the sense in which language as a digital material can mimic, and critique, capitalist processes of exchange and commodification. The artists are therefore interested as much in communication as they are in illegibility. In the simultaneous second phase of the publishing project, pages and screens will be edited, produced and published in as a book, using whatever technology is convenient.


A series of interventions and events planned for the period of the residency in Berlin. A workshop on the Imag(in)ery Constitution of the Economy involving students from the Universität der Künste, a series of lectures at the Vilém Flusser Archive, participation at other research initiatives in Berlin. The conclusions of the residency, including a risograph beta-version of the book, will be presented between the 22 and the 24 of August in the event of the reSource transmedial culture berlin at Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien.


Resumé of the Vilém Flusser Residency for Artistic Research 2012

The idea for the residency and also for the Drachma Project, which provided the theoretical and organisational backbone for it, was to reflect on and challenge the form, the content and the function of economic value. The focus of the investigation is currency, the Drachma and latently the Euro, which were studied as knots of affective tension and as screens for the projection of desire and subjectivity. The question of representation of value in currency is obviously related to semiotics as it is connected to aesthetics and art. The intention is to address and interrupt affective investments in the dominant ideology, in consumption and production, as they are channelled through currency, developing a mixed practice of theoretical critique and “speculative numismatics” (Lee 2011). Currency was read like a text and the text constructs the narrative of the fetish; each coin or banknote can be broken down to its own visual-textual elements, the analysis of which can be extracted in symbolic and iconographic patterns that represent community and value.


Vilém Flusser's thought proved extremely relevant for the investigation of money, illuminating the question of the representation of value in the era of technical images. Flusser's hypothesis about the dominance of technical images, being photographs, machine-produced texts, or hybrid configurations of text and image, as the main conduits to social reality and the apparatuses that organise it suggests that our participation in the market is conditioned upon our identification with the iconic representations of value and desire as they are articulated in the visual textual architecture of the currency (a series of technical images produced by the money-apparatus). The analysis of banknotes, as technical images produced by the money-apparatus of the state, can trace the process of self-representation as it is articulated and communicated in currency. Issues like history, territoriality and nationality feature prominently in the iconography of money and these elements are used to communicate trust and value.


The residency enabled the Drachma Project to establish a temporary production office in the Vilém Flusser Archive that assembled and edited the artistic and discursive material thus far generated by our work at the same time as it provided a lab for reflection and experimentation. We were able to accumulate, reflect upon and transform the materials of the research project into texts and images, that resulted in a book publication Grexit and a series of performances, presentations and lectures in Berlin and across Europe. The constant interaction with the transmediale community, and with the Vilém Flusser Archive, provided both a fertile ground to test our ideas and our visual production, as well as the necessary visibility to communicate these ideas to a broader public.


Text: Georgios Papadopoulos 

Image 1-3: Gr-Exit, Image 4: Georgios Papadopoulos at transmediale 2k+12, Image 5: Georgios Papadopoulos at reSource 001: Trial Crack, Image 6: Georgios Papadopoulos at reSource 002: Out of Place, Out of Time, Image 7: Georgios Papadopoulos at reSource 003: P2P Vorspiel at Café Liberte, Collegium Hungaricum


Download the PDF of Gr-Exit. A Speculative Archaeology for the Greek Economy here.


Watch a video of Georgios Papadopoulos’ presentation of his project at transmediale 2k+12.