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.
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.