Lines of Flight: Gilles Deleuze Glossaries

Lines of Flight: Gilles Deleuze Glossaries was my graduation project at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2015. The series encompasses three glossaries: “The Fold” and “Difference and Repetition,” based on the books of the same name by Gilles Deleuze, and “Rhizome,” based on the text by Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

These books are an attempt to apply Deleuze’s concepts formally, as a design method, in the binding and editing of the text. The content is a collection of some of the visual, literary, and cultural references made by the philosopher as he elaborates his ideas, an indication of his advanced knowledge of past and present art and culture intricately interwoven into his complex arguments. I have added images or fragments of text illustrating my own attempt to access, navigate, and acquire some of this encyclopaedic knowledge.

The three glossaries have a strong sculptural aspect, but are also at the same time books— their aim is to be read. While reading them may feel unusual and slightly disorienting, the experience of looking, leafing, or scrolling through them functions as a part of understanding their content. Two of the three books have no clear beginning or end because Deleuze himself argues his texts can and should be accessed at any point, read in a non-linear fashion.

The way the glossaries are regarded is strongly dependent upon the context in which they are encountered. When exhibited in a gallery setting, despite also including copies for leafing through and reading the text and despite written encouragement to do so, most viewers are reluctant to touch them and prone to regard them as objects rather than texts, walking around them and only admiring their formal qualities. The general fear of destroying an artwork prevails over the curiosity of reading. In more informal settings, most books lose their status as art objects and are treated more freely, although the Fold seems to still pose problems with respect to its proper opening and closing—that is, folding out from and back to a flat shape. Readers tend to think a book should look the same when repeatedly closed, which is not a mandatory aspect of these books at all. Performances of the three books being read at regular intervals put people more at ease with them, by showing them how to treat the shapes when reading them. After the performances, the books are always left in a different position/configuration.

My work is entitled lines of flight as a translation of the French lignes de fuite. The translator, Brian Massumi, notes that, in French, “Fuite covers not only the act of fleeing or eluding but also flowing, leaking, and disappearing into the distance (the vanishing point in a painting is a point de fuite). It has no relation to flying.” As a designer, many of my points of access to Deleuze’s concepts were visual and tactile, as the frequent visual illustrations appearing in my glossaries can attest. I hope my glossaries will incite their readers to find their own knowledge paths within them.

Listening for a New Body: Thinking Change and Learning Reason with Difference and Repetition and Spinoza: Practical Philosophy

This paper takes up the question of how a change other than “the relentless order of incremental change” might happen by examining it in relation to the notion of habit (after Ravaisson and Grosz) and the question of rhythm and temporal structuration as strategy. Nietzsche’s distinction between leaping and dancing offers us some initial clues, as does Deleuze’s provocations in Difference and Repetition (among other writings). Working from a basis of practice-led research from the laboratory of movement/yoga asana/breathing technologies, assisted by Deleuzian articulations, it will be argued that misconceptions concerning the mechanisms of change may stem from seeking alterations or variations at the level of content. Instead, a “change of another order” primarily concerns operations and rhythms that unfold at registers subtending the regime of representation and its derivative conjurings. If music, scent, and taste, for example, have the power to overtake us, unpin us, and hurl us elsewhere—into the pure form of the future—then it is worth clarifying their capacity to interrupt rhythmic habitudes where we wander enclosed in predictable prosodies, whether at the level of language, embodiment, or thought itself.

A Philosopher’s Time Travel Between Science and Fiction

Cinema is a major example of what Deleuze calls a “shock to thought” (Deleuze 1989, 156). Instead of being predetermined by an “image of thought” with its various implicit moral and representational presuppositions (Deleuze 1994, 129–67), Deleuze tries to expose himself fully to this shock that forces philosophers to think anew. In his cinema books, Deleuze analyzes how films deliver a new concept of image, which includes time, leaving all forms of representation behind: the “movement-image” that expresses time indirectly and the “time-image” that expresses time directly. Deleuze, who considers himself also as a science fiction author in the preface of Difference and Repetition (1994, xx–xxi), steps into the role of a “dark precursor” (ibid., 119) questioning the future of the image and our thinking about time.

My presentation will focus on the “series of time,” a third type of image that Deleuze briefly mentions in the second cinema book (Deleuze 1989, 55). To accomplish this task, I will analyse a complex science fiction thriller that gained a cult status over the years, Shane Carruth’s film Primer (2004). I argue that the film clarifies what Deleuze means by the “series of time,” insofar as Primer connects the time machine of the plot closely to a paradoxical element circulating between series. Reading Primer from the perspective of Deleuze’s cinema books also allows further consequences. First, showing how the time machine works in the film, the “series of time” can be clearly distinguished from the “time-image,” as instantiated in Alain Resnais’s Je t’aime je t’aime (1968). Second, the “series of time” allows us to reconnect Deleuze’s film-philosophy with Difference and Repetition. Third, the time machine in the film exposes principles of identity and resemblance as artificially constructed “primary” differences, thus supporting our understanding of Deleuze’s philosophical practice as a dark precursor itself. Fourth, the series of time opens up a new dimension of time beyond the succession model, as the powers of the false confront various possible worlds inconsistent with one another but sharing the same universe (the paradoxes of time travel). Finally, the series of time draws a line of flight from the newly elaborated notion of image toward the unseen interval between images. The shock of cinema, as the falsifying, forceful (self-)affection of time, forecasts new philosophical practices. For this reason, I intend in my presentation to adopt Deleuze’s somehow futuristic narration, oscillating between stringently arguing science and intentionally misleading fiction.

References

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

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