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.


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.