Deleuze’s Aesthetics Contra Object Oriented Philosophy

Studies that discuss Deleuze’s aesthetics rely upon Kant. Such reliance by brilliant and insightful scholars such as Smith, O’Sullivan, and Shiviro are nervously self-conscious because they necessarily recognise Deleuze’s explicit repudiation of Kant (his “enemy”). They take exculpatory solace in Deleuze’s obvious admiration for Kant’s skill and scope.They see incipient harmony in some virtual “rumblings” Deleuze intuits beneath the structure of the Third Critique. But Kant’s transcendental idealism and Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism are not even opposites: they are as constitutively incommensurate as the actual and the virtual and so must be their corresponding aesthetics.

Why then do the readings of Deleuze’s aesthetics map him into the Kantian configuration? Perhaps because, as the rise of speculative realism has personified, these writers cannot, like Kant, part with the idea of the aesthetic object. Indeed, Kant in The Metaphysics of Morals says that sensibility itself is “the capacity (a receptivity) to acquire presentations as a result of the way we are affected by objects … [how] objects are given to us.” While the sublime would require more time, the judgement of beauty for Kant relies upon the paradoxical postulation of an extant, if somewhat unavailable, object. But as Deleuze repeatedly makes clear, he does not accept either judgements or their objects and has  as his central question “how is the given given?” What for him is always a bad question that in its very orientation accepts the current political versioning of subject–object representation.

Thus let us agree with Rancière that art is ineluctably political but understand the political exactly as the constitutive inequality between the sign as symbol (in Peirce’s nomenclature), that iterated arbitrary which offers itself as if  it had an oxymoronic per se, and what Deleuze means by the symptom, a manifestation concurrent with “its” causes. This conjunction of the necessarily unequal forms the usually tacit potential for the Kafkaesque “stutter,” the Nietzschean rubato, which is always immanent to actualisation’s inadequacy to its own material operation: it can never “catch up” to its own representation as each iteration can only again reinstate the asymmetry whereby its manifestation as intelligible is possible. The realisation of this heterogenetic disparity is for Deleuze the always-new function of the aesthetic. The creative is life, the will to power, in its encounter with the impossibility of mastery it desires. In this necessary asymmetry between the mimetic as the fiction of the actualised ontic (the faux possibility of the existence of the object or subject) and its immanent real production, two incommensurate temporalities touch without talking. The aesthetic then is not a generality but the particular context- sensitive evocation of its own mimetic unavailability as the object, the subject, or the intelligible.

For Deleuze, then, there are only flows, concurrent but uncoordinated. Objecthood and subjectivity are but the paradigmatic epiphenomena of actualisation, of territorialisation, of those literalising political practices that construct the “real” as iterative.Indeed,this paper will argue that Deleuze’s aesthetic, unlike Kant’s, is programmatically uncharacterisable as it consists of the always-new apprehension of the haecceity of all events through counter-actualisation: it is exactly that liberation from the misapprehension of chaotic conjunctions, “aberrant nuptials,” as objects of beauty or taxonomies of classification. That is, that Deleuze’s aesthetic is not a theory but praxis, an activity, which cannot get ahead of its instantiation. It is opposed to the very possibility of representation, as the mimetic in all its guises—and most especially as the literal or factual—is none other than the Apollonian dream of individuation. As such, Deleuzian aesthetics is the ongoing and very material activity of political encounter in its immanent manifestation and not, as some (for instance Spivak and Badiou) misunderstand, its evasion.

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,  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.

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.