Lines of Flight: Gilles Deleuze Glossaries

Lines of Flight: Gilles Deleuze Glossaries was my graduation project at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2015. The series encompasses three glossaries: “The Fold” and “Difference and Repetition,” based on the books of the same name by Gilles Deleuze, and “Rhizome,” based on the text by Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

These books are an attempt to apply Deleuze’s concepts formally, as a design method, in the binding and editing of the text. The content is a collection of some of the visual, literary, and cultural references made by the philosopher as he elaborates his ideas, an indication of his advanced knowledge of past and present art and culture intricately interwoven into his complex arguments. I have added images or fragments of text illustrating my own attempt to access, navigate, and acquire some of this encyclopaedic knowledge.

The three glossaries have a strong sculptural aspect, but are also at the same time books— their aim is to be read. While reading them may feel unusual and slightly disorienting, the experience of looking, leafing, or scrolling through them functions as a part of understanding their content. Two of the three books have no clear beginning or end because Deleuze himself argues his texts can and should be accessed at any point, read in a non-linear fashion.

The way the glossaries are regarded is strongly dependent upon the context in which they are encountered. When exhibited in a gallery setting, despite also including copies for leafing through and reading the text and despite written encouragement to do so, most viewers are reluctant to touch them and prone to regard them as objects rather than texts, walking around them and only admiring their formal qualities. The general fear of destroying an artwork prevails over the curiosity of reading. In more informal settings, most books lose their status as art objects and are treated more freely, although the Fold seems to still pose problems with respect to its proper opening and closing—that is, folding out from and back to a flat shape. Readers tend to think a book should look the same when repeatedly closed, which is not a mandatory aspect of these books at all. Performances of the three books being read at regular intervals put people more at ease with them, by showing them how to treat the shapes when reading them. After the performances, the books are always left in a different position/configuration.

My work is entitled lines of flight as a translation of the French lignes de fuite. The translator, Brian Massumi, notes that, in French, “Fuite covers not only the act of fleeing or eluding but also flowing, leaking, and disappearing into the distance (the vanishing point in a painting is a point de fuite). It has no relation to flying.” As a designer, many of my points of access to Deleuze’s concepts were visual and tactile, as the frequent visual illustrations appearing in my glossaries can attest. I hope my glossaries will incite their readers to find their own knowledge paths within them.

Eco-Specificity: Performing the Heterogeneous Centre of the Ecological Imperative

Sites of performance, of exhibition, or display are revealed to be culturally specific situations that generate particular contexts, ethics, and narratives regarding art, art history, and society. Community involvement and the social division between the notions of the public and the private are strongly associated with the ethos that is generated during the performance of site- and eco-specific art projects. This presentation addresses Deleuzian philosophy in relation to the question of the relation between oikos and “eco-dramaturgy” through an examination of the “eco-critical” and site-specific project “Eleventh Plateau” by the non-profit company Out of the Box Intermedia that took place in 2011 at eleven sites on the island of Hydra and the uninhabited island of Dokos, Greece.

The paper discusses the inseparability of the work and its context and the intersection between performance and visual arts, landscape architecture, and environmental science, to propose a theoretical framework for examining new models of site-specificity affected by the unstable relationship between ecology, location, and society.

“Eleventh Plateau” is a multidisciplinary project involving collaboration across universities, art companies, and scientific institutes that seeks to understand the landscape of Hydra, its origins, its influences, and the derivative effects of these on its natural and cultural milieu and to promote a shift of the ecological ethos of the island in the expanded context of art practice.

“Eleventh Plateau” refers to the eleventh plateau in A Thousand Plateaus, “1837: Of the Refrain” where the refrain (ritournelle) is defined as “any aggregate of matters of expression that draws a territory and develops into territorial motifs and landscapes.” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 356) A refrain can be sonorous, musical. A bird song can be a refrain; “there is no form or correct structure imposed from without or above but rather an articulation from within, as if oscillating molecules, oscillators, passed from one heterogeneous centre to another, if only for the purpose of assuring the dominance of one among them” (ibid., 362).

“Eleventh Plateau” creates an intra-assemblage that holds together the heterogeneous elements of the different sites/plateaus. This intra-assemblage can be seen as an alternative territory. A territory is the first constituent of an assemblage, and as such is fundamental to it. It is a place of passage. The territory is the critical distance between two beings of the same species. “Eleventh Plateau” focuses on practices of critical intervention that promote a specific ethos relating to the definition, production, presentation, and dissemination of art. The aim is to readdress in an activist sense urgent social problems such as the ecological crisis. The project investigates the different layers of the islands: the archaeological past, contemporary economic culture, the ecological future, the excluded and the popular, zoology (animal/human interrelations), and land art and shifts in the representation of nature by displacing the performances and the objects of art from the theatre or gallery to the landscape.

Web: outoftheboxintermedia.org; vimeo.com/33345060

References

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Stuttering Machine, War Machine, Actorial Machine Carmelo Bene

In his Abécédaire—Gilles Deleuze from A to Z—in “C for Culture,” Deleuze states that he does not like theatre, with two extreme exceptions: Bob Wilson and Carmelo Bene. It was through Deleuze’s text “Un Manifeste de moins” that we came to Carmelo Bene (1937–2002) and to the several lines of creation that cross(ed) the work of this Italian artist. According to the philosopher André Scala, Deleuze and Guattari probably thought of Carmelo Bene when they wrote the chapter in A Thousand Plateaus, “10,000 BC: The Geology of Morals (Who Does the Earth Think It Is?).” Therefore, Professor Challenger, the strange Conan Doyle character appropriated by Deleuze and Guattari in this plateau, the one who made the Earth scream with his vocal metamorphosis and his voice that had become hoarse, would be, according to Scala, suitable for the dislocations promoted by Bene in his theatre works. These dislocations impressed Deleuze and other scholars, journalists and audiences, and can be seen not only in the scenic elements but also in the variations from one work to another, in the approximations and appropriations of different texts, in the unstoppable production of lines of flight in his work, and in the public appearances of the “character” CB—in his relations with the state and parastate, with critics, and with the audience itself. Carmelo Bene’s theatrical creations became more extreme with time, until he got to the conception of what he called “actorial machine” or “actorial machine CB.” This work intends to approach the concept of actorial machine, approximating it to the concepts of “war machine” and “stuttering machine”—or machine of stutter—a term we prefer to “antilanguage machine,” which is the term journalist Maurizio Grande used in reference to Bene’s work. Our purpose is to investigate the meaning intended by Bene when he referred to actoriality (attorialità) as a machine. In this presentation we intend to bring to light some impressions of Bene’s way of acting and creating, on the basis of our observations of his work—through videos, movies, pictures—our contact with people that were close to the artist, and recent research conducted in his personal papers in Rome.

The Poison Garden: A Sorcery Handbook

“The Poison Garden” is a collaborative arts project uniting the visual work of Brussels-based artist Sean Crossley and the writing of Melbourne-based philosopher Beau Deurwaarder. Over its two-year lifespan, the efforts from a series of international residencies, conference presentations, exhibitions, publications, and strange experiments will be compiled into a conceptual handbook of sorcerous instruction. Anchored by a methodology of research and practice, this collaboration will permit a conceptual reimagination of the figure of the sorcerer and sorcerous practice, without recourse to conventional occult motifs or naive appropriations of witchcraft, mysticism, or magic. For us, the practice of sorcery is the careful procedure of the manipulation of forces, the directing of an alliance between incompatible elements, bound by strict pragmatic techniques. The promise of sorcery is the abstract enforcement that assures at once integration and interference: the jeopardy of security, knowledge, and actions, in the name of an anonymous pasture in thought. In whatever form it takes, the sorcerous performance experiments with accursed economies of capacity and consequence, captured exclusively by the efficacy of its ceremony. The excessive and the untimely animate the conductivity of this procedure, conjuring associations with the impossible from within the very boundaries of the possible. Implausibly, the practice of sorcery shifts the coordinates of plausibility that bind the framework of measured, habitual membership, and ordain the sorcerer to the peripheries of thought, in order for the potency of their curse to cast purchase.

This pledge to the material site of the anomalous interrogates and infiltrates the collective parameters of our work. Our collaboration operates as a discreet demonstration of the imbalanced and combatant forces immanent to the production of its presentation. What we are pursuing within our joint practice is a procedure that licences unnatural participation to take place: a spell bound by philosophical and aesthetic experiments as both an execution and an exorcism of their incantation.

This venture was born from a theoretical fascination with the “Memories of a Sorcerer” passages in A Thousand Plateaus and a collaborative desire to experiment with the instruction these short passages summon. Following a collaborative publication and exhibition in Brussels last year, we have committed the next two years of work to inhabiting this conceptual terrain in order to consider how heterogeneous models can be affiliated in pursuit of unchartered domains of practice. 

At “The Dark Precursor,” we will co-present a scholarly paper detailing the experimental procedure we have devised for our theoretical incantation to take hold. To do so, we will evaluate Deleuze and Guattari’s sorcerous visions alongside those of Georges Bataille, Alain Badiou, and Isabelle Stengers, as well as against the material forces that operate within our own practice. Our presentation will showcase a constellation of new work that will at once embody and interrogate the accursed conditions under analysis, in a format designed to surrender its facility to the fidelity of sorcerous contamination.