Grey Room

Vampire Squid Media

Melody Jue

Vampyroteuthis infernalis. From Carl Chun, Die Cephalopoden, 1910.


In a deep and wide-ranging consideration of Vilém Flusser’s enigmatic and experimental work of media theory Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (originally published in German in 1987, here discussed in an English translation of the Brazilian edition published in 2011), Jue explicates Flusser’s “fable” as a tale in which the vampire squid as a refracted image of humanity, of photography and the photographic apparatus, and posthistory. Connections between Flusser’s broader oeuvre, speculative fiction, the history and theory of the technical image, and the report on the vampire squid serve to add nuance to some of Flusser’s boldest claims regarding the nature and limits of technical media.