The Emergence of the Interpreter in the Preparation and Performance of Unity Capsule for Solo Flute by Brian Ferneyhough

My paper will attend to the emergence of the interpreter and the repositioning of the contemporary music score from a Deleuzian viewpoint. The manuscript of Unity Capsule is a highly detailed and labyrinthine one that embodies both resistance and provocation for the performer. In my paper I will explain the processes I embarked upon to learn Unity Capsule and adopt the Deleuzian interpretations of résistance and création to articulate the aesthetic and technical demands the piece places upon the player. As part of this process, I will also chart how the performer emerges from the score to challenge hierarchical preconceptions pertaining to the performer–composer relationship.

The perspective I will adopt in this paper is an autoethnographic one that will interleave film excerpts of Deleuze as himself, taken from his final project, the Abécédaire, directed by Pierre-André Boutang. Alongside, there will be a complete performance with technical demonstrations of the iconic and “impossible” Unity Capsule by Ferneyhough. This will include projections of my annotated score as well as explanations of my schematics and the conceptual trajectories that led me to my interpretation. My purpose is to open an interrogation into the score-object, the existence of the performer in this new territory, and the implications of such an immersive experience on collaborative practices in the future.

Godard and/with Deleuze: C’est comme ça que le monde naît

In light of the theme of the conference, I propose to revisit the problematic of the seminar I gave last year at the Collège International de Philosophie: Le cinéma selon Jean-Luc Godard (see: More precisely, I plan to bring into relation two distant singularities: Godard’s enigmatic notion “le cinéma: une forme qui pense” and the just as opaque if not profoundly mysterious concept of the “sombre précurseur” (in its original formulation in L’Abécédaire: “Le précurseur sombre, c’est ce qui mettait en rapport des potentiels différents. Et une fois qu’il y avait le trajet du sombre précurseur, les deux potentiels étaient comme en état de réaction. Et, entre les deux, fulgurait l’événement visible: l’éclair. Il y avait le précurseur sombre et puis l’éclair. C’est comme ça que le monde naît. Il y a toujours un précurseur sombre que personne ne voit et puis l’éclair qui illumine.”).

In my presentation I hope to retrace the path of a double movement, or perhaps a zig-zag, that goes first from Deleuze to Godard, then back to Deleuze by a different path. For if it is indeed by light(en)ing that thought itself proceeds (Ça devrait être ça la pensée. Ça doit être ça la philosophie), then Deleuze’s notion is an instance of its referent, performative of the very force it names. It twice illuminates (c’est l’éclair qui fait voir les choses). First there is Godard’s montage as the form that thinks. I will show it to be an operation that not only makes visible, developing (in the photographic sense) the potentialities, the virtual signs that each image carries and are imprinted on its celluloid, but also that it does so by instantaneously bringing distant images in a “state of reaction” (see my “Cinema, Memory, History” in Posthumously for Jacques Derrida, Sussex Academic Press, 2012). Thus, their contraction, entering into a rapport for the very first time, is both an illumination and an act of creation: C’est comme ça que le monde naît. Second, this coup de bâton turns upon itself and illuminates its effective operation as pre-subjective. It is an event that takes the thinker by surprise, which one may hope for but cannot calculate. One needs to wait for it, as Bacon the painter waits for his accidental marks to give birth to something new, one waits for something to arrive.

Stuttering Machine, War Machine, Actorial Machine Carmelo Bene

In his Abécédaire—Gilles Deleuze from A to Z—in “C for Culture,” Deleuze states that he does not like theatre, with two extreme exceptions: Bob Wilson and Carmelo Bene. It was through Deleuze’s text “Un Manifeste de moins” that we came to Carmelo Bene (1937–2002) and to the several lines of creation that cross(ed) the work of this Italian artist. According to the philosopher André Scala, Deleuze and Guattari probably thought of Carmelo Bene when they wrote the chapter in A Thousand Plateaus, “10,000 BC: The Geology of Morals (Who Does the Earth Think It Is?).” Therefore, Professor Challenger, the strange Conan Doyle character appropriated by Deleuze and Guattari in this plateau, the one who made the Earth scream with his vocal metamorphosis and his voice that had become hoarse, would be, according to Scala, suitable for the dislocations promoted by Bene in his theatre works. These dislocations impressed Deleuze and other scholars, journalists and audiences, and can be seen not only in the scenic elements but also in the variations from one work to another, in the approximations and appropriations of different texts, in the unstoppable production of lines of flight in his work, and in the public appearances of the “character” CB—in his relations with the state and parastate, with critics, and with the audience itself. Carmelo Bene’s theatrical creations became more extreme with time, until he got to the conception of what he called “actorial machine” or “actorial machine CB.” This work intends to approach the concept of actorial machine, approximating it to the concepts of “war machine” and “stuttering machine”—or machine of stutter—a term we prefer to “antilanguage machine,” which is the term journalist Maurizio Grande used in reference to Bene’s work. Our purpose is to investigate the meaning intended by Bene when he referred to actoriality (attorialità) as a machine. In this presentation we intend to bring to light some impressions of Bene’s way of acting and creating, on the basis of our observations of his work—through videos, movies, pictures—our contact with people that were close to the artist, and recent research conducted in his personal papers in Rome.

A as in Animal

Art, according to Gilles Deleuze, does not produce concepts, though it does address problems and provocations (Grosz 2008). The video “A as in Animal” is an artwork that is on the lookout for encounters. Assembled edits and cuts within the video are rendered both exact and invisible, inciting both problems and provocations. Processes of performative assemblage and appropriation are constants through the work as a critical engagement with post-production, philosophies, and the mediated. The work draws on Deleuzian concepts of assemblage and multiplicitous attractions and influences, taking its title from L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze (1988–89). Deleuze didn’t think much of television and stated that the interview should not be aired before his death. In the interview, Deleuze discusses with Claire Parnet the crucial link between creativity, the very possibility of thinking, and animality, through the practice of être aux aguets (being on the lookout) for rencontres (encounters). To avoid zigzagging in his discourse, Deleuze received the list of topics beforehand, and although he worked assiduously on the answers, he then improvised during the recordings (Peter Stamer 2014).

“A as in Animal” assembles collected material from this interview and other sources from internet searches and YouTube browsing activities. The best of Deleuze can be found on the internet for sure—working and thinking through performative assemblage(s) of browser doings, apparatus, or equipment structurings, rhizomatic unfoldings, non-human historiographies, and philosophies. The film highlights search actions of retrieval and playback. Panic or anxiety fluctuates across a variety of disciplines including, among others, linguistics, gender studies, social theories, and art practices. Keeping fit with Donna Haraway, Derrida, blue and green screen special effects, and a spy mission project “Acoustic Kitty.” Together with reverse path tracings, dissonance, discordance, and difference are brought into close proximity without a video camera or recording device, and spread “like the surface of a body of water, spreading towards available spaces or trickling downwards towards new spaces through fissures and gaps, eroding what is in its way.”

Emergent indeterminate properties pervade both sound and image. We cannot know whether we are inside or outside through use of blue screen and green screen effects. Images and sounds, objects and things highlight contingency and multiplicity and overlap. This approach articulates activities of accumulation, arrangement, and movement that call attention to processes, which are improvisatory. Activities that are on the lookout for encounters, movement, and “doing” are prioritised. Through this process, less emphasis is placed on observation, representation, and subjectivity. Articulations stutter between different intensities, intensities that include over-saturation of colour, shimmering substances, non-diegetic sound, and transdisciplinary couplings that are resonant with rubbing up to the non human. The video work is shaped conceptually by site and the context of peripheral indifferences. Software presets and preconditions are cut with modalities of classification and taxonomy that flicker with continued involuntary repetition of sounds and image. The cat breaks the bowl, the cubists spend their time trying to glue it back together.


Deleuze, Gilles. 2008. “N as in Neurology.” In Gilles Deleuze from A to Z, with Claire Parnet, directed by Pierre-André Boutang, translated by Charles Stivale. Cambridge, MA: Semiotext(e), DVD.

Grosz, Elisabeth. 2008. Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth. New York: Columbia University Press.

Stamer, Peter. 2014. 26 Letters to Deleuze. A project by Peter Stamer with Jörg Laue and Alain Franco at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. A work-in-progress performance Saturday 22 March. Accessed 20 October 2015.