Artistic Spatiotemporal Experiences After Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou and Brian Massumi: A Theory of Becoming

We are not in the world, we become the world by contemplating it.
— Deleuze and Guattari

This paper addresses a parallel and intertwining duality of art and architecture as two fields of multiple non-binary systems, that enfold while “kissing,” according to Sylvia Lavin. It moreover establishes the production of this kiss as the ontological becoming of experiential space that is partially architectural and partially artistic, actual and virtual, introducing genomenology; an epiphenomenological approach to frame the kissing of the two domains as emergent spatiality. Deriving from the verb γίγνoμαι (gí.gno.me,  to become), genomena constitute the events that occur or become in relation to their ontological existence. The paper will create a theoretical index critically informed by the theories of Brian Massumi and his definition of “affect,” “habit,” and “virtuality” after Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze’s theory of the “event” and “becoming” (The Fold) and Alain Badiou’s topological ecology of ‘localised events’ (“The Matheme of the Event”) support in the context of this paper the theorisation of lived experiences as temporal and situational occurrences that are received sensorily and produce affective atmospheres. Considering the artistic experience as profound and intimate, the paper will define a new critical vocabulary as emerging from practical ramifications. It does so, by asserting the existence of an epiphenomenological becoming of  space as chorotopical (from choros as space and topos as locus) art—a hybrid spatial practice, which oscillates between architectural expression and artistic intervention.

The paper and presentation will attempt to define a Deleuzian onto-topology of chorotopical art via three new key terms: (i) veoma (the lived experience of a localised event that may be actual and virtual), (ii) genomenon (the ontological occurrence of  veoma that does not merely appear), and (iii) coaesthesia (the sensory immediacy that takes place during veomata and in response to affective atmospheres, which lead to spatial encapsulation and therefore immersion).  The paper will negotiate the new vocabulary against three art projects case studies: Hydor (2013), Cryptopology (2014), and Spatial Sea (2016). Hydor, on view at DARE 2017, examines virtualities and actualities in space and the role of the artistic intervention as genomenon of a notation on the architectural order. Cryptopology will investigate the hinging of sensory triggering as coaesthesia in a condition where artistic intervention is dominated by the topology and enhanced by the atmosphere of an architectural site that is timeless. Spatial Sea expands upon the concept of veomatic experience as a temporarily localised virtuality with sociocultural and mnemonic references, which aims to disrupt the habitual movement (as actuality) in the architectural site and acts as an immaterial locus as well as a material context. The reflective analysis of the case studies shifts the agenda towards thinking about art and architecture as two nuptial spatial practices, via the establishment of a shared theoretical vocabulary for when the two dynamically enfold in the creation of topologically aberrant and typologically warped space.

A Life as an Open Landscape. Systems of Codetermination in Three Robotic Shows

Combining A. Naess’s vision of “ecospheric belonging” and Guattari’s concept of an “ecosophy” as a science set “to create new systems of valorisaion, a new taste for life . . . ,” this paper looks at a string of robotic shows by SRL from the late 1970s. These shows uniformly address the possibility of relating to an environment and the question of artefactual autonomy but at the same time critique these very same notions. Whereas they spell out the very problem of being “alive” and constituting an “organism,” they also attest to a certain level of participation that reveals a radical exposure to a world’s ontological vulnerability. The robotic performances remain indifferent to any rhetoric that engages in the imposition of levels of being. We have not so much alliances of beings different “in nature” but an incessant exercise in co-determinative practices. The robotic shows put on display infra-subjective ways of co-alignment between heterogeneous systems in inviting us to think of the possibility of an eco-philosophical body across the continuum of what is nominally known as the “living” and the “non-living.” Within this scenario, it is no longer the organism that determines the formation of a biome but the responsive potential of a given entity (or non-entity).

The conceptual core of this argument encompasses (1) a shift from ontological scenarios that favour actuality to ones favouring ontologies of the virtual, and (2) a shift from forms of artistic production designated as “artwork” toward forms that are “onto-ecological”— that is, amalgams of philosophical, political, and ontological features that carry within themselves an ethics of sustainability. The “ecology of the virtual” speaks to an infra-bodily and infra-human level of analysis that operates across individuals nominally present as “human” and “artefactual.” In being so, it accounts for pre-personal ways of partaking in  a world. Here Guattari puts forward an ontological proposition to bring forth reformed notions of ethics, aesthetics, and politics that ultimately fuse into a concept of an artwork as an ecological space of radical exposure. Robotic performance puts on display exactly one such space that allows us to begin refiguring the concept of “artefact” positively and inclusively. Here an “ecology of the virtual” works as a responsive system that reverses the distinctions (in degrees of being) made within an already constituted world and prompts us to think “between natures.” The concept allows us to reach toward an ontological region that can be perceived as matter-forming, allowing for a co-habitation of nominally incongruent worlds.

Within this shift, what we habitually call “an artefact” and “a human” undergoes dispersal. Hereby the possibility of positing an entity or a non-entity is thought in terms of a radical attunement. Bodies are conceptualised in terms of their capacities to generate co- determinative responsive systems that do not seek to bypass their constitutive ecological vulnerability. The ecology and aesthetics of the virtual similarly speak to a level of analysis that operates across beings to evoke infra-individual ways. Here Guattari’s ecosophy prompts us to turn to the generative force of the arts to envision modes of being and non- being maximally open toward the virtual as a region of ongoing ontological constitution.

Eventum Tantum: On the Paradoxes of Sense, Dark Precursors, Quasi-Causes, and the Excessive Rest

Deleuze’s notion of the “dark precursor” makes its first appearance in Difference and Repetition as that agent or force that initiates and ensures the communication between two series of differences. It is thus assigned the task of differentiation as such and burdened with its own disappearance once the differences have been differentiated. A certain affiliation with the tradition and critique of reification, with the logic of the disappearance of the process under the product, has been asserted by various readers of Deleuze: difference as becoming (process/virtuality) tends to disappear within the differentiated as being (product/actuality). I will try to show, why the question that makes Deleuze so interesting for contemporary art is how one can reveal the traces of the artistic process while it insists on them and at the same time, buries them beneath its product? How can one not fall back into a deterministic or reductionist model of causes and effects? In The Logic of Sense, this problematic is further developed within a theory of the event, defined as the event of sense and, thus, as strictly incorporeal. The “dark precursor,” I would like to argue in my presentation, reappears in The Logic of Sense as the “quasi-cause,” a notion Deleuze develops out of the stoic differentiation between the body, on one hand, and incorporeal effects, on the other hand. I will trace the notions of the “dark precursor” and the “quasi-cause” within the two cited works and point out their relevance for a non-deterministic and non-reductionist account of the world as infinite becoming. I will do so by confronting these Deleuzian concepts with exemplary artistic positions and their influence on artistic research since the late 1960s, thereby questioning the (im)possibility of escaping reification.