DARE 2017 Opening Speech

[AR]

Artistic Research describes a particular mode of artistic practice and of knowledge production, in which scholarly research and artistic activity become inextricably intertwined. Questioning the boundaries between art, academia, philosophy and science, artistic research enables the exploration and generation of new modes of thought and sensible experience. In the last two decades, artistic research has gained increasing relevance and visibility as an alternative mode of making art and producing knowledge.

While there is no universally accepted or recognised definition of what is artistic research, one must stress that artistic research is not to be confused with research on the arts, or research on aesthetic matters. Artistic research is not a sub discipline of musicology, art history or philosophy. It is a specific field of activity where practitioners actively engage with and participate in discursive formations emanating from their concrete artistic practice. Artistic research, so I claim, should be done by artists, but by artists with the capacity of infusing research with a particular mode of intensity, coming from the intensive processes they know and use while making art.      

Fundamentally transversal to traditional disciplinary boundaries, artistic research enhances different ontologies, developing multiple epistemologies and creating varied modes of presentation and interaction with the world. Artistic research does not necessarily present objects of concluded knowledge but rather insists in unfinished thinking. It triggers sensible processes as interplay between conceptual thinking and physical engagement with things, materialities, and institutions. 

[Deleuze & AR]

In the last decade, the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, or the wider field of Post-Deleuzian thinkers have become increasingly relevant to the field of artistic research, acting as a key reference for many artist researchers. Gilles Deleuze’s central claim that philosophy is “the creation of concepts” reverses a whole philosophical tradition that considers knowledge as the discovery, the recognition, or the reminiscence of something prior to our enquiries. Contrary to this view, Deleuze thinks concepts as being invented, constructed, fabricated, as being the result of a process of thinking that generates an event: a singular concept, rigorously situated within a discourse, precisely located in time (in a specific here-and-now), gains a life of its own, which is independent from its origin. Considered in this way, concepts become almost literary characters, having their specific history, moment of birth, development, inflections, and death. This dynamic notion of concepts is profoundly connected with the view that thought always starts with an encounter between something and something else exterior to it. To have a thought is to go outside of oneself, outside of a particular discipline, outside of a given system of coordinates, outside of prevailing images of thought. In this sense, one can say that while there is a definite discipline of philosophy and several definite disciplines in the arts, these disciplines can only productively operate by reaching out beyond themselves. For philosophy, this means an encounter with that which is not philosophy; for the arts, the encounter with that which is not art; for music, with that which is not music (cf. (Somers-Hall 2012, 5). Moreover, as Deleuze and Guattari wrote “even science has a relation with a nonscience that echoes its effects” (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 217-8). The notion of encounter, and even more precisely, the real event of an encounter (its happening) becomes the core moment of any creative invention.

[DARE]

With our conference series on Deleuze and Artistic Research we aim precisely at exploring such productive encounters between different areas of knowledge and artistic production.  Thus, we welcome musicians, artists, philosophers, scientists, scholars and researchers from as varied as possible backgrounds; and we accept presentations in both scholarly and artistic/performative formats.

For the first edition of the conference in 2015, we chose the dark precursor as our leading concept. It is a highly poetic notion, one of Deleuze’s most expressive inventions, a personnage conceptuel that resists a definition, articulating the fundamental disparity of any given intensive system, connecting heterogeneous fields of forces, and having the transductive power of giving shape to several other events, encounters, and concepts. At the same time, the dark precursor establishes a dynamic system of relations, linking differences of intensity to one another. It is the agent, the force, the activator, the operator of a necessary communication between them. Without the continuous tremblings produced by infinite dark precursors, no energy would flow between different series and nothing would be perceptible or apprehensible in the world. Thus, the dark precursor concerns the question of how communication between heterogeneous systems of couplings and resonance occurs without being predetermined.

Where our first conference exposed and reflected the duality and openness inherent in artistic research, aberrant nuptials is its natural continuation. Quoting Deleuze’s celebrated passage on the wasp and the orchid, our title proposes the relation between art and research as a double-capture, for which Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne is appropriated as an allegory. Passionately chased by Apollo, Daphne tries to escape him through an aberrant (yet well desired) metamorphosis: a becoming-tree that rescues her, even if at the price of losing her human condition. Becoming-non-human, becoming-tree, becoming-bark, becoming-foliage, becoming-branches, becoming-roots are many of the modes through which Daphne becomes herself a zone of indeterminacy, a radicalised body without organs (literally), inaccessible to love, protected from desire. Yet, the wasp and the orchid work together for the fertilisation of other orchids, that is to say: they do labour with a goal and purpose. Apollo and Daphne offer a more extreme form of nuptials, one that completely excludes reproduction, (mis)functioning only through pure flows of desire. They operate a complete deterritorialization of the strata, making it difficult (if not impossible) to think their nuptials in terms of a plane of organisation. They point towards another kind of plane, one that doesn’t follow the arrangement of structures, nor the transformation of structures into other structures, but that makes transversal modes of communication thinkable and materially graspable. It is the nomadic plane “of those who only assemble” (Deleuze and Guattari  1987: 24), looking for an adequate outside with which to assemble in heterogeneity, rather than a world to reproduce. Aberrant nuptials, thus, are assemblages of heteroclite things and codes, building “inconsistent planes of consistency,” planes of “metastable consistency,” that are neither consistent nor inconsistent. Such planes are populated and traversed by “the most disparate of things and signs,” creating unexpected connections, and fostering the emergence of machinic assemblages of desire.

References

Deleuze, Gilles, and Claire Parnet. 2007. Dialogues II. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Columbia University Press.

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

—. 1994. What is Philosophy? Translated by Hugh Tomlison and Graham Burchell. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lapoujade, David. 2014. Deleuze, les mouvements aberrants. Paris: Les Éditions de minuit.

Somers-Hall, Henry. 2012. “Introduction.” In The Cambridge Companion to Deleuze, edited by Henry Somers-Hall, 1-12. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, James. 2003. Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition: A Critical Introduction and Guide, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

The Munich Biennale for Music Theatre as a Form of Artistic Research

The Munich Biennale for Music Theatre, founded in 1988, has long served as an incubator for music theatre productions, gradually building a contemporary repertoire. In 2014, composers Manos Tsangaris and Daniel Ott together took over artistic directorship of the Biennale. As became evident in their first iteration in 2016, they are producing a shift away from the linear mode of musical production of their predecessors to a rhizomatic one.

Tsangaris and Ott subtitled their 2016 edition of the biennale “OmU: Original mit Untertiteln” (Original with Subtitles). Implicit in subtitles is the interpretative line  of flight inherent to commentary, to a change in medium, to deterritorialisation. This title also suggests the performance of a relationship between both theory and practice as forms of creation. It can be read in terms of an emergence of a new relationship between theoretical writing and practical acting, between doing and thinking in contemporary music, forming a new relation between knowledge and artistic practice. Rather than fall victim to the overdetermined but empty relationship between these two categories that plagues discussions about artistic research, they gain the space to be thought together, as co-existing in a relation (Baldauf/Hoffner).

The earlier festival was set up to produce chamber operas that acknowledge the influences of performance art and postdramatic theatre on contemporary music, with the intention of revitalising the out-of-date canon (Eckle). The new artistic directors are not attempting to write themselves into such a major history of development. They acknowledge and encourage the plurality of approaches, wrapping them into a becoming-minor of music theatre. There is a consistency of approach, a focus on creolisation and site-specificity (i.e., an ever-expanding field, making its relation to other arts much clearer). Rather than telling a major narrative of operatic innovation, the same practice is reterritorialised in terms of a becoming-minor.

Last, this practice can be used to reaffirm the existence of genuine moments of critique. Adopting the term “infrastructural critique” from Marina Vishmidt, it will be demonstrated that  the  artistic  directors  see  organising  this  festival  as  an  extension  of  their artistic practice, and furthermore as an affirmative  form  of  institutional  critique  that  enters  the messy space of attempting to model its alternatives (Holert). Since the nineteenth century, a defining characteristic of European art music has been a disavowal of its social mediation, a lack of engagement with its relationship to the broader institutional forces that produce it (Born). The work of Tsangaris and Ott actually functions to upend deeply ingrained beliefs in Eurocentrism, singular genius, and the neutrality of site, doing so positively by telling new stories and through creating speculative models for the future. It is a dream scenario for institutional critique discourse: tangible change is really taking place. The question of a reinvigoration of the concept of institutional critique through an examination of its manifestations outside the traditional circuits of contemporary art (here contemporary music) will remain an invitation to further thought at the end of the article.

Dialogue II: New Materialism(s) for Artistic Research

This dialogue addresses the fundamental question of how to relate speculative thought and research activities on the arts with the concrete materiality of daily artistic practices and outcomes (artefacts). To make art involves being-in-the-world and, critically, the use of tools, materials, instruments, and supports. It is from and with all these things that new affects, new sensations, new modes of communication can be invented or extracted, contributing to a continued expansion of art practices and idioms. Artistic research (a new type of “nomadic science”) has been providing diverse practices and perspectives with strong geographical and disciplinary differences, but they all remain bound by a common reference to the grounding “materiality” of their specific activity. The materials used, produced, and discussed in artistic research are fluid entities, akin to metal alloys, less defined than stratified objects, and more affective than concepts. On  the  other hand, recent philosophical discourses increasingly refer to process-oriented, relational ontologies that crucially move beyond subject-centred philosophies, and beyond object- analytical decodings. Bringing together artist researchers and philosophers, this dialogue aims at mapping some new materialist perspectives for artistic research.

Paulo de Assis, chair

Mining the Aesthetico-Conceptual: Deleuze, Derrida and Artistic Research

Despite their many political and philosophical allegiances, Deleuze and Derrida might— in accordance with Deleuze and Parnet’s dictum—be best described as the opposite of a couple. While their mutual hostility towards conceptual stasis, overly linear approaches to temporality and excessively centred notions of subjectivity targeted a number of common philosophical opponents, this apparent unity of purpose arose out of some seemingly incommensurable tensions: Deleuze’s mode of ontological enquiry squared poorly with Derrida’s rejection of metaphysics; Deleuze’s positive engagement with the sciences, and his prioritisation of material-sensation sat awkwardly with Derrida’s more pervasively textual and somewhat idealist orientation; and Deleuze’s development of an impersonal concept of Husserlian expression served to check Derrida’s rather more stringent and single minded rejection of phenomenological presentism.

It is  important  to  remember, however, that  like  Derrida, Deleuze  was  predominately  a writer—albeit a writer with an at once affective, performative, and corporeal agenda. Indeed, when taken at face value, it would seem to have been Derrida who more directly explored the graphic potentialities of experimental writing. Deleuze’s emphasis upon performativity, emergence, and onto-genetic construction nevertheless serves to extend and supplement the Derridian account of textuality by exposing its neglect of the process of writing. In so doing it foregrounds the potential for Deleuzo-Derridian philosophy to instantiate a genuinely aesthetico-conceptual image of thought.

For the 2017 conference, I would like to propose a machinic-writing-event, along with a related scholarly presentation that will collectively address the somewhat tensile relationship between Deleuzian and Derridian philosophy in the context of a discussion of the practice of writing.The paper will explore this territory in a broadly traditional academic fashion, and it will be delivered at one of one of the conference panels. Elsewhere, in one of the installation spaces, a pair of computer-controlled writing machines (x–y pen- plotters interfaced with Processing and Arduino) will mine the multiple drafts of the paper, exploring the material, performative, and durational aspects of its composition— foregrounding, and in some sense reactivating, the vectors of its textual becoming.

Before the conference, in the months of April and May, the draft materials for the paper- in-progress will be archived daily, providing a series of documents that can serve as a data source for the machines that will be installed at the event. Through a process of writing and over-writing, the plotters will dwell upon randomly selected passages and explore their development over time—revealing the emergence and development of ideas, as well as deletions, redactions, and changes of mind. A series of contact microphones attached to the plotting mechanism will provide a percussive accompaniment to the development of each machinic palimpsest.

The plotters will be “tuned,” respectively, to either a Derridian or a Deleuzian lexicon, and this will influence their mining of the text. The work is intended to instantiate a zone of indeterminacy—celebrating the sonic, textual, and ideational couplings that emerge from this material collision of texts.