Actively not Arriving: A Durational Atmospheric Intervention

We propose the creation of a singular foyer for encounter and thinking-feeling in a collaborative, open-source environment. Concretely, we plan to install a space for ongoing modulation between art and philosophy/thinking. Located in a transient area of the conference, the space will processually tend intensities as they modulate in the intervals of the event, offering specific techniques and materials, such as collective writing, open microphone, collaging/cut-ups/diagramming, and platforms for presentations and discussions to extrapolate themselves into the atmospheric space through new formulations. In this sense, we are thinking of a space inhabited by the desire for situations that oblige us to think and act in the presence of what is at stake. In the temporal aspect of the increasingly professional expectations of what constitutes a successful academic/artistic life, we are thinking about the things “we didn’t get to,” “won’t get to,” and “don’t need to arrive at” as the attractors of a dark precursor that is not a moment in time but a movement-across as trans-temporal force. Being in the arch of getting there (while not arriving) is the process and is the atmosphere we are looking to activate in Ghent.

“Actively not arriving” is what we consider study, as delineated by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten. This conception of study does not rely on any “official” beginning of the process, as would be the case in more traditional educational contexts. In other words, study is always already happening, constantly creating new ways of thinking collectively. We add to this a concept of “atmospheres”: how does study formulate itself atmospherically, as modular forces that can be collectively tended? How do we study together? What is the role of study in contrast to knowledge production and communication? What is at stake emerges here out of a concern for the ways that knowledge and practice are combined in artistic research. We are wondering how modes and moods of atmospheres of study generate new kinds of fugitive planning, that is “research on the go,” rather than research that fits a given framework to be aligned with and to then extract its peer-reviewed surplus value. Study is seeking out the arch as that which makes an event collectively move across different practices, bodies, thoughts, and feeling. An arch in its very arching is without a discrete beginning and end, a dark precursor actualising itself as both a local milieu and a trans-temporal process. How can we take account of these processes in the immediacy of study, as that which is always already underway? And how can we tend to its unfolding throughout the arching of an event and the potential of its remnants that are left hanging in the air? not beginning, not ending, not arriving: a continuing radiation.

Dialogue II: On Visual Art or How Does Art Think?

This dialogue brings together philosophers and artists to address issues at the core of Deleuze’s ontology of art. It will be oriented around the question of art’s contemporary work as a critical production of thought. This is a question that, explicitly or implicitly, connects all our speakers—from Eric Alliez’s notion of the diagrammatic regime of thought between art and philosophy that distinguishes itself from an aesthetic regime of forms, to Ian Buchanan’s desire to excavate the schizophrenic construct of the social from Deleuze and Guattari’s ontology of art, and Anne Sauvagnargues’s wish to articulate the Guattarian category of the ecological image as one capable of accounting for our digital transformation of contemporary art; from Peter Stamer’s construction of his cinematic idea of Deleuze, to Marc Ngui’s diagrammatic thought-drawings of A Thousand Plateaus. This question of art’s thought is one that traverses Deleuze and Guattari’s writings on art, distinguishing their position from any aestheticisation, formalisation, or historicisation, and forging a platform from which any privileged relation to the “visual” as a historically legitimated category is intensively problematised. How does the (visual) work of art think, and how can we in turn think this thought? How does this thinking illuminate the question of a singularly artistic research? Is this a question whose horizon is that of the contemporary and, if so, why? How can Deleuze and Guattari’s works revitalise the increasingly fraught status of the categories of image and visual?

Kamini Vellodi, chair

Drawings from A Thousand Plateaus

The Thousand Plateaus drawing project is a paragraph-by-paragraph visual interpretation of the book A Thousand Plateaus. I was introduced to the book by my friend. I found the ideas quite elusive and felt compelled to make diagrams so that I could better understand and retain an understanding of the ideas the authors were describing. The writing in A Thousand Plateaus is packed with images. I’ll read a paragraph and then try to focus on one of the prominent images and then draw it out. The drawing style is very immediate. It has evolved from an automatic style that I was experimenting with as a means of accessing subconscious material. The drawings were produced quickly with very little left-brain processing. This style was then adapted to illustrate ideas that were developed by a design collective called RNA. The RNA drawings were preoccupied with the burgeoning digital networked culture of the late 90s. I found that a very simple diagrammatic style could be used to articulate fairly complex ideas about information, networks, and the self. I then adapted the RNA drawing style to make the visual interpretations of A Thousand Plateaus.

I treat drawing as both an act of making and a form of thinking. The drawings on A Thousand Plateaus are attempts to make diagrams that illustrate some of the complex relationships that the authors describe as they develop the thesis of each plateau. I think of the drawings as snapshots of the ideas that are constantly in motion, evolving, devolving, digressing. Each diagram is a representation of how I understand that particular paragraph. The text is very rich; if the task of illustrating a particular paragraph were to be given to ten different artists, you’d get a wide range of responses.

The original drawings were created sequentially in sketchbooks, one page per paragraph. I was originally using graphic design markers and gel ink pens. I’m using watercolours now as they are more lightfast than the markers. I showed them to Sally Mckay, an artist, publisher, and curator in Toronto. Sally included them in a group show with Scott Carruthers and Crystal Mowry called Quantal Strife. For the gallery installations, I selected several sequences of drawings to display. These were framed and hung, and the sequences were then tied together visually by a wall drawing. I am currently publishing the third plateau.

Strata: A Lecture Performance

My first creative gesture, always, is inwards. I look inside; I dive inside. I bathe myself in the numerous, interconnected yet distinct streams of sensations, thoughts, and feelings that incessantly rush through me. I drift upon them; I observe how they intersect, split one another apart, or converge. Amidst the buzzing of inner activities that living appears to be as soon as one suspends one’s project-oriented actions, one sees tentative tropes emerging, heteroclite assemblages forming themselves. Some persist, others vanish quickly to cohere later in a different combination. My work attempts to investigate how we constantly compose our experience from the multiplicity of which we are made. Artistic research too proceeds from an introspective drive: art turning itself toward art in an attempt to question anew its processes and its effects; research as a movement that goes nowhere but insists to be where it is, digging up the very place upon which it stands. Following such a self-reflexive movement, art encounters itself as not self-identical, animated as it is by multiple other practices—craftsmanship, daily life, theory, philosophy, politics . . .

Strata, the online publication on which this lecture performance is based, is an instantiation of such an introspective approach. It is a cross section of my own work, applying my compositional strategies to question my own practice. A collage of images, text, and video fragments on an endless white page, it was created in 2014 on an online platform for multi-modal publications, Oral Site, which is hosted by Sarma, a workplace focusing on artistic research and discursive creation. Although explicit references to Deleuzian concerns do surface in Strata—direct quotations as well as excerpts of an interview with I. Stengers—it is mostly through its rhizomatic mode of composition that it meets the philosopher’s work. With no centre, no end, no linearity, it offers itself as an environment to get lost in. By maintaining their reciprocal heterogeneity, clusters made of distinct documents create a wide constellation, a field of tensions where relationships are endless, yet (or because of this) are never totally effectuated. In this composition, gaps are pivotal and the trade with the non-actualised is constant. It invites the visitor to a diagrammatic experience in which meanings and affects emerge in the midst of invisible trajectories that saturate the page as one’s attention bounces from words to drawings to filmed movement, from personal anecdotes to art history to philosophical digression or political concerns. In its associated lecture-performance series, Strata is screened for the audience and offers itself as a score for a digressive exegesis. We navigate its large plane, unfolding one of the countless ways to think and feel its layering. Live dance and/or drawing extends its constellation into the room as the performer—myself—embodies the particular mythology instantiated by the publication.