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.

Guattari’s Ecosophy and Nature as Machinic Assemblages: In Reading Literatures and Films by Kobo Abe

In this paper I will explore Guattari’s tactical idea of ecosophy (or virtual ecology) as the integrative moment of his itinerary in both theory and practice. In the mid 1970s Deleuze began using the term “strange ecology” in the mid 1970s, in his Dialogues with Claire Parnet, much earlier than Guattari, who began to engage with the problematics of ecology in the mid 1980s. In reference to literary authors such as Woolf, Melville, and Hofmannsthal, Deleuze (and Parnet) raised the notion of “unnatural participation” or “participation (or nuptials) against nature,” which later in A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari elaborated further in their detailed conceptualisation of “becoming” (woman, animal, and imperceptible). Guattari, for his part, also proceeded with this line of thought by proposing the notion of “the production of subjectivity,” combined with concepts such as “absorbent subjectivity” or “partial or pathic subjectivity” in his late work Chaosmosis. As Deleuze in Dialogues made a remark on the equivalence between a literary author and a traitor (or trickster), one of tasks of the novelist is “to lose one’s identity and face.” By writing something, the writer has to (can) become something itself, at the same time he or she has to disappear, to become unknown (Dialogue 33). The writer can invent a kind of field, environment, and ambience by becoming objects in writing (referents). Such writing always consists of “working between the two” rather than “working together” (ibid., 13), where “we are desert but populated by tribes, flora and fauna” (ibid., 9). Guattari’s late writings on ecosophy were drawn from the earlier conceptions of Deleuze. In this context, Japanese writer Kobo Abe must be addressed. Even a cursory Guattarian-influenced reading of two of his novels (later made into films in which he collaborated), The Woman in the Dunes and The Face of Another, affords us a certain creative interpretation on Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy, and Guattari’s ecosophy especially. In the mid 1980s, Guattari and Abe met for discussions a couple of times. Inspired by Abe’s avant-garde works in his novels and films, rather than merely apply the ideas of Deleuze and Guattari to Abe’s work this paper will focus on the perspective of “Nature as machnic assemblages” in Guattari’s late works.

Exploring the Longitude and Latitude of Public Space Through Sound Art

This presentation addresses site-specific sonic practices from the artistic practitioner’s perspective. The intention is to outline a proposal for a revitalisation of the field of site-specificity beyond transcendentalism, offering a challenge to conceptualisations of “form” and “content” that still hover around site-specific practice today.

Departing from the assumption that spatial production understood in its broadest sense should always be understood as process (Massey 2005) and informed by Spinoza’s notion of “body,” which later on was developed in Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) “ontology of assemblage,” public space can be understood in terms of assemblage in consisting of a tremendous number of components, human and non-human, material and immaterial, each of which has specific relations and its own agency—that is, the specific capacity to affect and be affected. Focusing on sound, sound from such perspective can be understood as having its own agency as a vital part of the production of the assemblage we refer to as public space.

The focus for this presentation is on bringing forward various crucial effects that such an assumption has on site-specific (sonic) practice in terms of vital spatial practice: “Site-specific practice it’s not a question of how one should ‘install’ a work but a question of how to articulate an assemblage” (Cox and Stjerna 2015). Such a statement returns to the idea of considering the site as a body composed of two vectors: latitudes and longitudes. “Latitude” concerns the specific material, historical, political, and social components of a place and the way in which they establish different relations. “Longitude,” then, is about my ability as an artist to understand and to modify these relations in the work, how I can reformulate those relations through sound.

Consequently, site-specific practice, on the one hand, should be understood as an exploration of the heterogenic and complex force relations that together constitute the assemblage of a place and, on the other hand, the modification of these relations through art. As a practitioner, I think of myself as exploring what Deleuze and Spinoza call the longitude and the latitude of the place. Through some recent actualised artistic projects, I intend to discuss site specificity as an ability to trace the ways that specific relations form or have formed a specific site or spatial context and the ability to alter it through art (Cox and Stjerna 2015).

The proposed presentation is mainly based on the first chapter of my ongoing (still untitled) artistic research project on sound art in public space.

References

Cox, Christoph, and Åsa Stjerna. 2015 [forthcoming]. “Sound, Affect, and Public Space: Åsa Stjerna in Conversation with Christoph Cox.” In Dirty Ear Report. Berlin: Errant Bodies Press.

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

Massey, Doreen. 2005. For Space. London: Sage.

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.