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.

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.

Deleuze’s Philosophy of Cinema: Reflections on Subjectivity, Images, and Visual Artworks

In “Die Zeit des Weltbildes” Heidegger (1938) describes the modern age as the time when the world first became a “world-image.” At the origin of this shift lies a complex relation between the self, reality, and its representation. By ascribing to subjectivity a foundational role, philosophers such as Descartes and Kant transformed reality into a representation, thus turning the world into a world-image. Hence they gave philosophical grounding to what can be called a representational conception of the image. The outcomes of this conception are still visible today, as questions concerning the nature of images and their relation to representation are gaining an increased attention, in both philosophy and art history (Strehle 2011, 507; Bottici 2014, 2). In the present paper, the conception of the image is investigated at the threshold between philosophy and art. Focusing on Deleuze’s analysis of the role of time in cinema, this paper argues that Deleuze develops a conception of the image beyond the representational framework. The argument of the paper should be articulated in two steps. First, I outline what exactly I mean by the representational concept of the image. Rather than analysing the works of any particular philosopher, I focus on a celebrated painting of the Italian Renaissance entirelly based on central perspective: the mysterious Cittá ideale, which portrays a utopian vision of the city of Urbino. Following the recent work of art historian Hans Belting, I suggest that particular features of the central perspective anticipated the modern concepts of subjectivity and representation. Then I move to consider Deleuze’s reflections on cinema. Here I shall focus on Deleuze’s analysis of “opsigns” and “sonsigns” in Italian neo-realism and the related concept of the crystal image. By presenting purely optical and sound situations in which no action is involved, opsigns and sonsigns place time at the centre of the cinematic image (Deleuze 1989, 2). Following Deleuze, I suggest that time here is to be understood as being both pre-subjective and pre-objective. It is the time of pure memory, constantly split within a virtual and an actual side, pre-existing the conscious life of any particular subject (Deleuze 1989, 53). Such time finds expression in the crystal image, in which actual and virtual sides of the image are merged (Deleuze 1989, 69). Through an analysis of the crystal, I show how Deleuze presents a concept of the image beyond the categories of subjectivity and representation. I conclude by drawing some consequences of this concept for both philosophy and visual arts.

Beside the painting Cittá ideale, I will make reference to the following visual works to illustrate some points: De Sica’s Ladri di Biciclette (1948), Pasolini’s Accattone (1961), Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror (1975), and Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark (2002).

 

References

Bottici, Chiara. 2014. Imaginal Politics: Images Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary. New York: Columbia University Press

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

Heidegger, Martin. 1938. “Die Zeit des Weltbildes.” In Gesamtausgabe I. Band 5 Holzwege. Frankfurt am Main: Viktorio Klostermann.

Strehle, Samuel. 2011. “Hans Belting: ‘Bild-Antropologie’ als Kulturtheorie der Bilder.” In Kultur: Theorien der Gegenwart, edited by Stephan Moebius and Dirk Quadflieg, 507–18. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.

Making the Digital Spiritual: A Research Experiment in Art Education

The point of departure of our research is that the digital screen, just like Deleuze’s concept of cinema, can be perceived as an automaton. This means that it automatically creates a particular kind of attention, “producing a shock to thought, communicating vibrations to the cortex, touching the nervous and cerebral system directly” (Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2. The Time-Image. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989, 156).

In the everydayness of life, it could be argued that the digital screen produces not only scripts and algorithms but also culturally coded events that are not necessarily unproblematic. A particular kind of loss of identity can characterise the screen experience. An example of this is that the individual, by means of the screen, imitates patterns like that of the selfie, producing and consuming this or that particular “I.” Simultaneously, however, the individual does not know anymore who or what this “I” is or could be, nor how this “I” has to relate to the world, which also increasingly receives its meaning from within tethered digital time and space.

At the same time, the digital screen offers new possibilities to study the world and oneself. The intention of this research is to look for the conditions that make this possible. This poses the question of how the screen can function as a spiritual automaton. According to Deleuze, the power of cinema does not simply lie in the logic of a medium that supposedly yields its potentiality automatically. Rather, because of and from within cinema, the spectator instead of imitating life can and has to reset it in a way. Deleuze’s research into cinema can be interpreted as a quest to find the conditions that allow the automaton to become spiritual, a question we revisit in connection with the digital screen. Looking artistically at the screen can be interpreted as a pedagogy in relation to this object; that is, research concerning conditions and particular kinds of limitations that produce new ways of thinking that cannot be compared with mere communication and information. In that sense, the question arises of how experiences with the digital screen can disclose particular forms of thinking and open up new ways of being in the world that otherwise might fall into oblivion.

In this presentation/paper therefore we want to present a particular research project we have set up, in which we want to experiment with the potentiality of the digital screen. In the project we explore how it is possible to think about an online course in which the internet is understood not as an efficient tool to enhance one’s individual development but as a technology that has a particular materiality, and in its materiality is operative in itself. We want to do experiments in which the virtuality of the internet becomes real/material.

Instead of just catching attention, we do experiments in which we try to generate attention, which implies a slowing down of digital time. This is part of a way of thinking of art education as a collective practice that allows inhabiting the matter at hand.