Outside Interior : ?Interior

An encounter between interior design and Deleuze has created ?interior—a stuttering that produces a pause between stimulus and response to open an interior in an outside. Practising with Deleuze as an interior design academic, curator, exhibition designer, and writer, concepts of interior and interiority are challenged and transformed. Deleuze’s claim to a hatred of interiority (“Letter to a Harsh Critic”) foregrounds self-givens assumed as natural in dominant and dominating ways of thinking that inform and shape practices where interior is equated with enclosed space and interiority with an inherent subjectivity and a pre-given subject; where interior and exterior are coupled as a binary machine—   as either/or. However, one also becomes sensitive to a refrain of “interior,” “interiority,” “inside” and “in” throughout his writings in relation to exterior and, more specifically, “the inside as an operation of the outside” (Deleuze, Foucault), “the Outside interior” (Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy?), and “the ultimate folding of the line outside, to produce an ‘expectant interiority’” (Deleuze, “A Portrait of Foucault”).

For Deleuze (and Guattari), “the choice is between transcendence and chaos (What is Philosophy?). The choice invokes different exteriors and ways of practising—between assuming the pre-framed and already given as something to be given value and hence reproduced, and practising in the midst of forces, change, and chance to produce something new. This is the difference between making relations “to” something that is assumed as pre-existing and substantial, and making relations “in” movement. Another conceptual shift that is critical in this move to “Outside interior” is to understand relations as external to their terms as distinct from being between terms/identities, where subjects and objects are effects rather than causes.

?interior is a pickup from Deleuze. It steals and misquotes his ?-being that interrupts the dialectical relation—and hence negative implication—between being and non-being to enable being as a problematic. ?interior moves from posing interior?—a “what” question that directs one to define and answer in a categorical and universal way. In contrast, ?interior—with the question mark coming before is not even easy to say; one stammers verbally and mentally. ?interior effects a pause before the assumptions of “interior” and opens it up to an outside of contingency, chance, and variation.

Preparing this paper, I have been caught in an encounter with the figure of  Narcissus    in Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition where he writes: “We must first contemplate something else—the water, or Diana, or the woods—in order to be filled with an image   of ourselves.” An outside interior nuptial. Deleuze’s ideas of sensation, contraction, contemplation, and imagination highlight regimes  of  representation  and  recognition as secondary; in doing so, they open an opportunity—in the pause, in the middle—to intervene and experiment.

“The desert, experimentation on oneself, is our only identity, our single chance for all the combinations which inhabit us” (Deleuze and Parnet, Dialogues).

Nomadic and Transverse Artistic Practices

In the spirit of Deleuze and Guattari’s complexity of knots (rhizomes) as contrasted with linear, arborescent, or binary structures, this paper proposes to reflect on today’s artistic practices that can be classified as “nomadic and transverse.”

For the authors of Mille Plateaux, concepts that are related to the ideas of nomadism and transversality tend to operate in relationships that mingle differentiation and solidarity:

  1. The smooth in relation to the striated (taken from Boulez), the continuous hydraulic flow in relation to specific points of reference.
  2. A minor or eccentric science proposing infinite problematical processes in relation to a royal science of definitive theorems.
  3. Processes of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation in relation to stable
  4. The double capture or wedding against nature between two entities having absolutely nothing to do with each

Additionally, the concept of transverse implies references to hybrid forms (for example graphic scores), multimedia, interdisciplinary approaches, plurality of cultures (de Certeau), and creolisation of the world (Glissant).

The nomadic and transverse artistic practices can be here defined as activities that are not definitely fixed in works of art, that imply never-ending projects and refusal to be defined by particular aesthetic labels. What is at stake is an everyday tinkering with elements and contexts, an endless travelling with no particular issues. The crucial two points of the paper are centred on the ambiguous relationships of nomadic practices with sedentary ones (see Stengers, Cosmopolitiques 7):

  1. The network that continuously forms, informs, and deforms itself cannot be limited to a single focus on the production of artistic materials for the benefit of a The processes are no longer defined in a specific specialised space: they also are concerned with collective creation, socio-political contexts, informal/formal relationships to institutions, transmission of knowledge, various ways of interacting between humans, and between humans and machines. Curriculum  design, research  projects, teaching  sessions, and so on become, in this context, fully-fledged artistic situations outside the exclusivity of performances onstage.
  2. In improvisation, to produce unprepared results onstage, one has to be intensively prepared beforehand. How can timbre production be differentiated, if all the bodies of the performers are shaped in institutions to produce the same sounds? How can it be differentiated if the bodies are not shaped to do this? In collective elaborations, the real meeting of different people, of which the result should remain unpredictable, requires at the same time the presence of strong protocols, systems of constraints, or “dispositifs” (as defined by Michel Foucault) that oblige the participants to acquire some knowledge of each other’s practices, and to develop projects or objects together, mingling a respect for the diversity of their practices and the necessity to work for a collective creative

Thought Beyond Research

This paper explores the critical implications of Deleuze’s philosophy of thought for the notion of artistic research. This paper is in two parts. The first part considers the ways in which artistic research upholds a representational image of thought. While practices of artistic research involve diverse forms, it is arguable that the image of thought that is often presumed and evaluated assumes research as a production of knowledge, inscribed within existing discourses, methodologies, and concepts, and disseminated among a community of knowing subjects.

Building upon Deleuze’s notion of thought  without  image,  I  pose  as  an  alternative the notion of a thought-construction that  affirms  the  element  of  thinking  that  is new, unknowable, and non-representational. I will give particular focus to Deleuze’s theorisation of the “problem,” as a means by which thought constructs itself. It is through the notion of “artistic problems” that Deleuze’s philosophy can be brought into intriguing confrontations with figures across both philosophy and art history—including Edgar Wind, Aby Warburg, Henri Bergson, Michel Foucault, and Erwin Panofsky—all of whom, in differing ways, built on the intuition that artistic/creative practices problematise rather than ask and solve questions.

In exploring some of these conceptual resonances I will attend to the question, rarely explicitly addressed, of the potentials of Deleuze’s thought for art history. The second part of the paper animates this tension between thinking and research through a series of case studies across the history of visual art to which Deleuze himself makes reference. This will raise the problem of the time of thought, and of artistic thinking in its problematic guise, as exceeding historicity—something that, I argue, has provocative potentials for the notion of artistic research as an image that the art of today has of itself.

Heterogeneity of The Word and The Image: What Is the Possible Dark Precursor?

The concept of heterogeneity is one of the key concepts in Deleuze and Guattari’s universe. Heterogeneity moves through all possible spheres of becoming. If one starts to discuss art at this moment, the concept of heterogeneity comes into play. They wrote, “To us, Art is a false concept, a solely nominal concept; this does not, however, preclude the possibility of a simultaneous usage of the various arts within a determinable multiplicity” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 300–301). There is also essential heterogeneity between visible and speakable. In his book This is Not a Pipe, Foucault, in cooperation with René Magritte, discovered the innate incompatibility between the word and the image. Foucault (1983, 36) noticed that Magritte discovered the gulf “which prevents us from being both the reader and the viewer at the same time.”

There is no preformed order between heterogeneities, but is there any possible common point of communication between them? In the book A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Deleuze and Guattari noticed that this communication is neither imitation nor resemblance; at the same time, something else entirely is going on—what is this something else? In his early book Difference and Repetition, Deleuze (1994) wrote that every system contains its dark precursor—the third party—which ensures the communication of peripheral series. Given the variety among systems, this role is fulfilled by quite diverse determinations. Deleuze does not define exactly what this dark precursor or a third party is. In his book on Foucault, Deleuze returned to the problem by mentioning that Kant had already encountered a similar problem: he had to find a third agency beyond the two forms—a spontaneity of understanding and the receptivity of intuition: the schema of imagination. Deleuze (1988: 68) discerns that even Foucault “needs a third agency to co-adapt the determinable and determination, the visible and the articulable, the receptivity of light and the spontaneity of language.”

In his text on Foucault, Deleuze reflects upon Foucault’s discussion with the Belgian painter Magritte. In his experiments with words and images, Magritte included the words in the pictures alongside the image, or even instead of the image or in a paradoxical correlation with the image. The Lithuanian artist and writer Jurga Ivanauskaitė (1961–2007) was inspired by Magritte’s experimental games in her visual works and in her literature as well (Ivanauskaitė 2011, 2013). Her poster for the rock group Antis (in English, “the Duck”) is based on the heterogeneity of the three meanings of the word “antis” and the impossibility of reducing the three meanings to any single one. This picture raises questions very similar to those that Foucault asked about Magritte’s “This is not a Pipe”: Does the word “duck” (antis) written on the wall have anything in common with a real duck or only with a metaphorical duck, meaning the duck as “the forgery in the press”? Do these three ducks (the painted object, the name of the rock group, and the word on the wall) have something in common? Is there any hierarchy between the ducks? Which one of these is the most “real”? What is the possible point of meeting? Is the picture the dark precursor of the three heterogeneous ducks? Deleuze would have answered: it is a thought. This battle between heterogeneous spheres—the impossibility of being a reader and a seer at the same time—inspires thought. In Foucault, Deleuze writes, “Visibilities are not defined by sight but are complexes of actions and passions, actions and reactions, multisensorial complexes, which emerge into the light of day.” As Magritte says in a letter to Foucault, “thought is what sees and can be described visibly” (Deleuze 1988, 59). Thought has a close relation with a diagram and the cinema. The diagram is an abstract machine or the map of relations between forces, which proceeds by primary nonlocalisable relations and at every moment passes through every point. Deleuze (2003) used Foucault’s concept of diagram to reflect upon Francis Bacon’s painting. On the other hand, Deleuze in Cinema 2 considered thought not as imagination but as a main dark precursor between the word and the image in creating modern conceptual cinema (see Baranova 2014, 2015). Thought is not so much the shock, discovered by Eisenstein, but the powerlessness to think as revealed by Artaud. Deleuze (1989, 165) writes that “thought has no other reason to function than its own birth, always the repetition of its own birth, secret and profound.”


Baranova, Jūratė. 2014. “Artaud versus Kant: Annihilation of the Imagination in Deleuze’s Philosophy of Cinema.” Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image 6: 137–54.

—. 2015. Between Visual and Literary Creation: Tarkovsky and Ivanauskaitė. Saarbrücken: Scholars’ Press.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1988. Foucault. Translated by Séan Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

—. 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. London: Continuum.

—. 2003. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Translated by Daniel W. Smith. London: Continuum.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1983. This is Not a Pipe. With René Magritte. Translated and edited by James Harkness. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Ivanauskaitė, Jurga. 2011. “The Fortress of Sleeping Butterflies” [excerpt from novel]. In No Men, No Cry: Contemporary Lithuanian Women’s Prose, translated by Milda Dyke, 63–75. Chicago: International Cultural Programme Centre.

—. 2013. “Year of the Lily of the Valley.” In The Dedalus Book of Lithuanian Literature, edited by Almantas Samalavičius, 146–57. London: Dedalus.