Joanna Zylinska (1971) is a writer, lecturer, artist and curator, currently working as Professor of New Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of many books on art, technology and media, the latest one of which is Nonhuman Photography (MIT Press, 2017). In 2013 she was Artistic Director of Transitio_MX05 “Biomediations”, the biggest Latin American new media festival, which took place in Mexico City. She has recently co-edited two open access books, Photomediations: An Open Book and Photomediations: A Reader as part of Europeana Space, a grant funded by the European Union’s ICT Policy Support Programme. Her current projects involve photographing media entanglements and making a short photo-film about “the end of man”.
The ’eyes’ made available in modern technological sciences shatter any idea of passive vision; these prosthetic devices show us that all eyes, including our own organic ones, are active perceptual systems, building on translations and specific ways of seeing, that is, ways of life.
The images that make up the project presented here are very much part of “the technical universe of images” Flusser has identified in his book [Into the Universe of Technical Images]. They were taken over a period of two years with an automated “intelligent” wearable camera called the Autographer. The artist wore the camera in various everyday situations: on a city walk, in a holiday resort, in an art gallery, in a lecture theatre, at home. The machinic behaviour was nevertheless influenced by the way her body moved, enacting a form of immersive, corporeal perception that broke with the linearity of perspectival vision and its representationalist ambitions, while also retaining human involvement in the multiple acts of image capture. The human element was also foregrounded in the subsequent editing activities: Zylinska was faced with over 18,000 images from which she chose several dozen. Active Perceptual Systems thus raises the question of whether the creative photographer can be seen as first and foremost an editor: a Flusserian in-former who provides structure to the imagistic flow after the images have been taken.