Erick Felinto

Rio de Janeiro , RJ
Rio de Janeiro BR
Record Status: 
Short biography: 

Erick Felinto hes been a Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) since 1999. He is the author of five books (in Portuguese) on film studies, literary theory and cyberculture. He was President of the Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Communications (Compos) from 2007 to 2009. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from UERJ/UCLA and is currently a researcher for CNPq (the Brazilian National Council for Research and Development). He also worked for the Flusser Archive on the production of the DVD “We Shall Survive in the Memory of Others” (translation and transcription of Portuguese subtitles). His last book, “Avatar: the Future of Cinema and the Ecology of Digital Images” (with Ivana Bentes) was published in 2009. He is currently the Scientific Director of the Brazilian Association of Researchers in Cyberculture (Abciber).

Research Statement

My research consists in an attempt to explain the strongly mythological character of cybercultural discourses, as well as an archaeological analysis of the emergence of the theoretical appraisals of digital culture. A significant amount of the criticism on the cultural transformations resulting from the development of new digital media resorts to a repertoire of concepts and tropes that originate from pre-modern conventions and religious forms of thought. As metaphors or analogical mechanisms, these tropes apparently seek to minimize the impact of new technologies by means of its comparison to what is old or already known. As fully fledged examples of this rhetorical mechanism, one can mention books such as Margaret Wertheim’s The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace (1999), Erik Davis’ Techgnosis: Myth, Magic + Mysticism in the Age of Information (1998) and Mark Stefik’s Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths and Metaphors (1996). My proposal is the establishment of a taxonomy of the “cybercultural imaginary” according to its peculiar logic and organization. Such taxonomy is meant to allow the elaboration of a critique to the various forms of analogical thinking that permeate the discourses on new media. Walter Benjamin’s notion of wish-images (Wunschbilder) was employed as a conceptual device for the critique of this spiritualist inflexion in cyberculture’s imaginary. According to this notion, cultural imagination reacts to technological innovations in a very peculiar way. It wraps up every invention or novelty with forms and images that pertain to a distant past, a utopic time before history itself (Urgeschichte), when all conflicts and inequalities produced by class society were still unknown. This project has a double goal: 1) to perform an extensive inventory of the current bibliography, mapping the set of symbols, images and notions that seek to explain away the radical newness of digital technologies by comparing them with ancient ideas and realities; 2) to produce an explanatory hypothesis through the analysis and classification of this “technological imaginary” – a hypothesis capable of elucidating the paradoxical nature of some current representations of technology: a combination between the ultramodern and scientific and the pre-modern and magic. This analysis seeks to identify some recurrent sociological mechanisms connected to the incorporation of technological innovation, such as the use of utopian discourses and mystical vocabulary to describe the effects of technology. From August 2010 to May 2011, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Universität der Künste Berlin. In this new phase of my research, the goal was to investigate the origins of new media theory in the writings of a selected group of thinkers working during the first emerging stages of digital culture. The research also focused on the impact of Vilém Flusser’s work on contemporary German theorists of media. The results of this (still ongoing) research will be published in a book detailing the contribution of Flusser for the work and thought of contemporary scholars such as Friedrich Kittler and Siegfried Zielinski.

(Source: author)

Curator of:

Titlesort descending City Country Date
A Vida Secreta dos Objetos: Materialidades, Medialidades, Temporalidades Rio de Janeiro Brazil August 1, 2012 to August 3, 2012

Research Collection that references this person:

Full Name: 
Erick Felinto
The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Luciana Gattass