Maintenant: Seeing the Untouchable, Touching the Unseen

We can say . . . of time . . . that it is the whole of relations.
—Gilles Deleuze (1986, 10)

A cinematic screen is filled with the image of my hands conducting, caught from above and behind my left shoulder. The motion and the touch of my hands captivate as they reach out into the blackness of empty space to make visible the materiality of sound as I sculpt and shape the evolving music. The image of sculptor Joël Prévost’s hands appear deeply immersed in the sensuality of their touch as his fingers probe what lies hidden beneath the surface of his clay. It is an unexpected pairing—music and sculpture—yet, centre stage at a slightly forward angle, Prévost’s finished sculpture of my hands, suspended in motion, draws the images together. Its form as sculpture speaks to the fleetingness of the unfolding moment and its longevity as a present grasped. The play between the sculpture and the images, the fleetingness and the grasping, points to the image of the hand that holds time embodied in the roots of the French word for now, main-tenant. This exposition explores the transformational power of the moment in all its temporal complexity.

The project stems from the long-standing gap between knowledge about music and that garnered through its embodied experience in the moment. Driven by a definition of music as a temporal art, the gap has framed listening as a function of the ear alone. Deleuze (2004, 73), however, argues “even in the joining of sensations . . . there is resonance.” Hearing has a tactile dimension. Touch is also a movement, a gesture through which one situates or places oneself in relationship to an evolving whole; and, as both a touching and being touched by, it “necessarily constitute[s] couplings of sensation. . . . [that] produce resonance” (ibid., 66). Prévost’s sculpture of my hands, made while I conducted, allowed me to cultivate these relationships and marry my own touch and hearing to the tactility of the sculpting clay to make visible the thought—the grasping—that had been hitherto hidden in my gestures.

These couplings also make tangible the “invisible,” “insensible,” “dark precursor” that precipitates the paradigmatic transformations of sudden flashes of creative insight. As in a developing variation, the multi-sensory, temporal, and spatial possibilities of film are used in combination with the sculpture onstage continually to “look again,” each time from a different perspective. Enhanced through a kinaesthetic memory invoked by my (live) voice, the ensuing rub of sight, sound, motion, stillness, past and present, spawns the echoes from which Michel Serres (1995, 119) argues time itself is born. My hands are constantly “re-membered,” as echoes, many “unheard” and seemingly without a past, become an opening to the future. Time itself is set in motion and sound renews Deleuze’s concept of touch. The exposition unfolds around Pászti Miklòs’s Fekete Lány and is based on a poem by Federico García Lorca originally “found” through gestures of the hand.

Web: eleanorstubley.com; joelaprevost.com

References

Brunner, Christopher. 2013. “Affective Timing and Non-sensuous Perception in Differential Media,” Simondon and Digital Culture Conference, Leuphana University.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1986. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

—. 2004. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Translated by Daniel W. Smith. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Serres, Michel. 1995. Genesis. Translated by Geneviève James and James Nielson. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

The Image as a Process of Individuation Within Artistic Research

To think about the image is to already activate and engage in artistic research. And to think about artistic research in a hybrid world, we need a different approach to think the image—one that considers both the natural and the technological milieu. We argue that the image only occurs within an associative reticulation that integrates a hybrid actuality. Here, hybrid refers to the acknowledgement of the simultaneous co-existence of the natural and the artificial/technological, the actual and virtual, and the human and non-human in physical space and cyberspace recognised as an actant in the present.

From this perspective, we understand the image as a composite, layered experience in a multifaceted and hybrid reality and the artwork as an effect of the activity of invention within artistic process. Thus, we elaborate on the concept of the image developed in Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition (1994) and its later taxonomy explicated in Cinema 1: The Movement-Image (1986) and Cinema 2: The Time-Image (1989) and compare this categorical scheme to Simondon’s imagistic individuation elaborated in Imagination et invention (2008). Echoing Bergson, Deleuze points out that we don’t perceive things in our mind, we perceive things where they are, in the world. Things exist as a polymorphic evolutive and a temporal diversity in a transductive relationship between the memory-image of the past, the perception-image of the present, and the invention-image of the future. Simondon’s ideation of the image also steers away from a static conception. It is understood as emergent within and through a transductive four-phased process within the associated milieu: the motor-image, perception-image, mental-image, and invention-image.

Through these phases, we are able to modulate the relation between the human and the milieu to eliminate the polarising hierarchical importance between participating elements in the genesis of the image. The image is thus understood as a temporary, intermediate reality between individuals and milieus existing within an evolutive technological diversity. The image appears in the directed interaction between participants and the environment they are in: it is not produced by the subject. Rather the image produces and develops the subject, allowing it to manifest itself as an immanent function of creation while being relatively independent from it.

Within such an approach, the image is not restricted to the usual optical perception of objects but is directly related to systems of relationship within the milieu, to experience itself. In this manner, in the perspective of a discourse of concepts such as art, technology, and nature, emerging from a processual and systemic vision, we bring forth the idea of image, milieu, and invention as a process of individuation within artistic research.

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 1986. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.

—. 1989. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.

—. 1994. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press.

Simondon, Gilbert. 2008. Imagination et invention (1965–1966). Chatou: Lês Editions de la transparence.

L’art au-delà de l’homme: Antonioni et Vertov par Deleuze, entre création et découverte

Le cœur du cinéma, selon Gilles Deleuze, c’est la capacité de restaurer des vastes zones acentrées et décadrées (Deleuze 1983, 94), bien au-delà du tournant humain de l’expérience. En autres termes, le cinéma n’est rien d’autre que le soi-même de l’image, théorisé pour la première fois par Bergson dans le premier chapitre de Matière et mémoire. Il n’y a plus ni distance ni mimesis : le cinéma ne représente pas le réel à travers la fiction, mais coïncide avec la réalité, conçue comme un champ transcendantal et impersonnel d’images-mouvements. Cinéma et réalité ne diffèrent pas : l’univers devient, mieux, un metacinéma en soi (ibid., 88).

Dans ma présentation je propose de vérifier cette idée deleuzienne à travers la discussion de l’œuvre de deux réalisateurs : Dziga Vertov et Michelangelo Antonioni. Vertov réalise le programme matérialiste du bergsonisme, à travers une poétique caractérisée par un ciné-œil super-humain et un montage constructiviste axé sur le rythme et l’entre-deux : films comme La sixième partie du monde, L’homme à la caméra ou Le ciné-œil rejoignent effectivement un monde qui précède l’homme, c’est-à-dire le lieu des relations, des variations universelles qui se déroulent invisibles au-dessous des yeux humains (Vertov 1975, 139). Antonioni se concentre sur les champs vides, où l’homme est désormais disparu : dans ses films, comme par exemple L’eclisse, Il deserto rosso ou La notte, les paysages vides et abstraits semblent dominer les personnages, désorientés et silencieux. Les champs vides se constituent comme une réflexion sur le néant et l’abstrait, conditions de possibilité génétiques de la réalité : Antonioni recherche « l’image absolue » (Antonioni 2009, 61–62) de la réalité, qui coïncide avec un « blanc sur blanc » impossible à filmer, univers virtuel qui est en train de s’actualiser dans la réalité concrète.

Ce qui est intéressant, soi dans la poétique Antonioni que dans celle de Vertov, c’est, en général, le statut de l’art, c’est à dire la présence, dans l’acte artistique d’un élément créatif—la création du nouveau, l’actualisation d’un virtuel pré-individuel—et d’un élément ontologique—la découverte d’un univers caché, qui était déjà là, imperceptible. La stricte relation entre création et découverte, dans Vertov et Antonioni, devient fondamentale chez Deleuze pour la réflexion philosophique. Réaliser un film, inventer un concept ou découvrir une fonction, c’est créer le nouveau, mais aussi rejoindre et rendre visible un virtuel qui, existant, n’était pas (encore) perceptible : au bout de cette ambiguïté on trouve le cœur secret de la réflexion deleuzienne, axée autour de l’événement comme devenir imperceptible et de la question du monisme-pluralisme, où les différents plans avec leurs spécificités—concepts, affects/percepts et fonctifs—rejoignent l’indécidabilité (Deleuze et Guattari 1991, 206), en faisant résonner la voix de l’être, son univocité aussi bien que sa richesse. Ici faire de l’art ce n’est plus raconter soi-même, mais arracher la perception aux objets, en créant des affects et des percepts non humains, impersonnels, capables de transformer l’imperceptible en percipiendum (Deleuze et Guattari 1980, 345).

References

Antonioni, Michelangelo. 2009. Fare un film è per me vivere: Scritti sul cinema. Venice: Marsilio editori.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1983. Cinéma 1: L’image-mouvement. Paris: Editions de Minuit.

Deleuze, Gilles, et Félix Guattari. Mille Plateaux. Paris: Editions de Minuit.

—. 1991. Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? Paris: Editions de Minuit.

Vertov, Dziga. 1975. L’occhio della rivoluzione: Scritti dal 1922 al 1942. Milan: Mazzotta editore.

Deleuze’s Cinema Studies as a Model for a Problematising Sound Practice

Within Cinema 1: The Movement-Image and Cinema 2: The Time-Image, Deleuze exposes cinema as a practice of thought. Cinema articulates perception, lived experience, and material components through particular strategies of formal organisation. These strategies are presented as rendering particular “regimes” of the image. A fundamental aspect of this proposition is that each regime yields a diverse status of the image, defines a particular mode of engagement with the visual.

In chapter 6 of The Time-Image, Deleuze opposes the crystalline regime of the image to the organic one. Within the organic regime, images “assume the independence of its object . . . stand for a supposedly pre-existing reality” (Deleuze 2013, 131) and are articulated to convey a continuity external to themselves. This is the domain of the sensory-motor schemes, where images become components of trajectories and “oppositions within a field of forces” that define a “hodological space” (133).

On the other hand, within the crystal regime of the image, the conveyance of an external continuity is interrupted. “It is now the description itself which constitutes the sole decomposed and multiplied object”; the image “stands for its object, replaces it, both creates and erases it” (131), drawing attention to the immanent and multiple conditions of its emergence. Rather than being determined by what they would refer to in themselves: “it is not a matter of knowing if these are exteriors or scenery” (131), it is the way they are articulated that defines its status. Translating this perspective to the domain of an artistic sound practice implies understanding how the status of sound would arise out of diverse regimes of sound.

I aim to propose that Luigi Nono’s “No hay caminos, hey que caminar . . . Andrej Tarkovskij” for seven instrumental groups is an example of a work that sets up a crystalline regime of sound. As is the case in the realm of the images Deleuze refers to, it is not a matter of sounds being referential or mimetic to sounds outside the frame of the concert hall; instead, it pertains to how the sound’s status arises out of the logics of the organisation of the work. An organic regime sets up sounds as interrelated figures within an imaginary space, a “hodological” space where parameter variations define trajectories. The claim is that within “No hay caminos . . .” each component in the formal articulation of the piece does not participate in constituting a detached field of trajectories or figural relationships. Rather, the sequence of sound instances is articulated as to sensitise the listener to the multiple threads (affective, material, perceptual) that constitute our apprehension of these instances. Through a process of successive recontextualisations, our active grasp of sound is put into question.

One fundamental example of how this strategy is deployed within this work is the way in which the spatiality of sound is dealt with. Rather than building up a plan of formal relationships that would render space as an imaginary field, contrasts are set up that expose the inherent spatial characteristics of every sound. By articulating this strategy, sound is exposed as a multiple instance, its status defined by intermingling conditions. This becomes a hint towards conceiving a practice that takes as its main aim the problematisation of the way listening unveils and our engagement with sound is constituted.

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 2013. Cinema I: The Movement-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. London and New York: Bloomsbury.

—. 2013. Cinema II: The Time-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. London and New York: Bloomsbury.