Mouldworks: An Art Rhizomatic Inquiry into Haecceities in Material (and) Thought

Conducting an art-philosophical inquiry into the Polish neo-avant-garde artist Marek Konieczny and his mobilisation of Polish Baroque, I have embarked on what Simon O’Sullivan calls “art rhizomatics.” O’Sullivan (2006, 36–37) defines “a rhizomatics of art” as a mode of art writing that attends to the researcher’s particular enfoldment in the world and resonates with the art objects themselves. My art rhizomatics is an immanent research practice that generates new worlds parallel to Konieczny’s artworks themselves. For “Dark Precursor” I would like to extend this practice further to include experimentation with Deleuze-Guattarian thought, namely the concept of haecceity.

Mouldworks seeks to explore the resonance between haecceity and the materiality of mould as it emerges from my particular experience of living as an immigrant in a Dublin bedsit and researching the art of the 1970s and the Baroque amid Ireland’s newly resurgent property bubble and its attendant vectors of gentrification, the debate about the shape of the new multicultural Ireland, and the influx of refugees.

Deleuze and Guattari (2005, 261) define haecceity as “a mode of individuation distinct from that of a thing or a subject” epitomised by “a season.” They posit haecceities as a set of coordinates, “the sum total of the material elements belonging [to a body] under given relations of movement and rest, speed and slowness (longitude); the sum total of the intensive affects it is capable of . . . (latitude).” Many commentators have emphasised the individual, yet impersonal nature of haecceities (Young 2013, 153).

Mouldworks explores migrating mould colonies as a diagram of heterogeneous force relations penetrating both the molecular and the social planes. Notoriously unwieldy—in a state of constant asexual reproduction and vibrating across diverse milieus—mould spores affect in unpredictable ways, secreting diverse colours, textures, and distribution patterns. Therefore, they can be considered haecceities.

Rather than develop gigantic land art projects like those by Robert Smithson, my particular longitude offers the infinitesimal realm of mould as my field of operation. Inhaling Dublin mould every day, I think about the iconic photography of Roman Vishniac who turned away from the documentation of diaspora cultures to embrace photomicroscopy, therefore revealing diaspora as a haecceity.

Mouldworks attempts to register the diasporic haecceities by putting into mutual resonance a series of staged photographic images of humanoid figures draped in black velvet, set against Dublin’s iconic open-sea bathing places, and a video documentation of a mould removal procedure performed with a silicon cutter. The Baroque drapery with its many folds introduces perceptual instability associated with haecceities, whereas the sea is haunted by the threat of migrant invasions as well as waterborne powers of contamination.

References

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 2005. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.

O’Sullivan, Simon. 2006. Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought Beyond Representation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Young, Eugene B. 2013 “Haecceity.” In The Deleuze and Guattari Dictionary, edited by Eugene B. Young with Gary Genosko and Janell Watson, 153. New York: Bloomsbury.

Live Sculpture

Live Sculpture is an interactive and performative video-sculpture, built as an auto-poietic and communicating mirror. When the viewer’s body stands in front of Live Sculpture, it is scanned and filmed in real time by a webcam installed behind a Baroque frame and then reanimated and reshaped in a full-size video projection simulating a three-dimensional marble sculpture. The new live image of the viewer-sculpture is entirely built from an ever-changing interactive mesh, which tunes in and reacts to body movements, the environment, light, and the speed of the viewer. My artistic research has always investigated changes in “liquid space” through a variety of techniques, technologies, and devices. The liquid space is unfolded in Live Sculpture by the subject herself, on one side, reshaping the human into something alive and vibrant and, on the other, challenging the notion of sculpture.

As a self-producing structure (Maturana and Varela 1980), Live Sculpture reveals strata, details, and nothing beneath: always in transformation, never reaching another side, never affirming. The interactive mirror—“mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”—gestures to infinity and its “Baroque trait twists and turns its folds, pushing them to infinity, fold over fold, one upon the other” (Deleuze 2006, 3). However, if the viewer might find intimacy in the continuous Droste effect, Live Sculpture remains “a Baroque chiaroscuro, a trompe-l’œil that fools ‘trompe’ no one, yet no one cares to touch its depthless folds. This is the space of the fully accepted, repeated but never shared illusion of unity that is difference” (Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos 2013, 77).

 

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 2006. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. Translated by Tom Conley. London: Continuum.

La Cour, Anders, and Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, eds. 2013. Luhmann Observed: Radical Theoretical Encounters. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Maturana Humberto R., and Francisco J. Varela. 1980. Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living. Dordrecht: Springer