Milieus of Locality. The Aesthetic of the Point of View

The explosion of pervasive digital technologies and ubiquitous computing is today creating a milieu where technological mediation has reached a very subtle point. Subjects find themselves plunged into hyperconnected environments, wrapped in a cloud of data, where sensation and cognition take place in a distributed and environmental way, beyond what has always been referred to as subjectivities; now, profiled and described as a set of billions of data, they appear as segmentarised and (in)dividualised monads (Deleuze). The world, thus understood, becomes an immanent set of algorithmically produced and refined patterns or profiles, in which people and situations become immediately and operationally “meaningful,” and where what has been called algorithmic governmentality (Berns and Rouvroy) succeed in controlling, anticipating, and modulating behaviours. Crossed with the “smartification”  of  objects  and  environments,  which  are  now  able  to operate autonomously and make choices before us, even the aesthetic experience  has been in many cases transformed by the “technical management of the process of aesthetization” (Stiegler).

In front of this “catastrophe of the sensible” (Stiegler), the result is an increasing feeling of isolation, or “dividualization” (Guattari, Deleuze), and of “loss of the world” (Deleuze) as psychodiversity, noodiversity, sociodiversity, and biodiversity. What therefore happens to localities, points of view, and the multitude of individual differences when all this becomes a function, which can be (pre)defined and uniformed? How should we understand and reconsider the aesthetic relation between the life of the individual, its setting, and the outstanding intercultural society in modern “smart environments”?

The aim of this paper is to analyse, through a dialogue between Deleuze and Whitehead, whether a possibility for the individual to structure multiplicity in technologically mediated environments can still be found through the arts. This will be done following their interpretation of the “point of view” as an opening onto an infinite series of variations—the world and its virtuality, the set of all the com-possibilities—that includes the subject as mirroring those possibilities and proceeding towards the truth by organising the visible. Finally, the essential function of the arts in reaestheticising the possibility of feeling the multiplicity will be explored, in terms of an “ethics of care” of such multiplicity and aesthetic possibility.

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.

The Third Milieu: Deleuze and the Universe of the Fixed Time-Space

French composer Pierre Boulez first introduced the concepts of smooth and striated space-time in his musical oeuvre. Later, Deleuze and Guattari further developed these musical theories, applying them to a wide range of non-musical purposes throughout their philosophical works, particularly in the homonymous chapter (plateau) included in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1987). However, the question that arises from these concepts is how these two systems communicate, transform, and alternate and at the same time remain different without becoming the same (Deleuze).

This paper seeks to explore a third milieu, adjacent to the smooth-striated that would allow the perception of the communication, transformation, and exchange processes between these two heterogeneous systems: the fixed space-time, which was also introduced by Boulez and later analysed in more depth by Deleuze, particularly in his essay “Boulez, Proust and Time: ‘Occupying without Counting’” (1986).

The methodology used for this research involves the creation of a series of drawings and diagrams using analogical and digital techniques with the aim of further exploring these ideas. Moreover, this paper argues that there is a strong relation between the functions of the fixed time-space and Deleuzian diagrams (drawing/graph/map). Furthermore, these diagrams would operate beneath the smooth and the striated and they could connect these two heterogeneous systems as the fixed space-time would do. Consequently, the fixed-diagram would function within a multiplicity, as a multi-linear system of conceptual diagonals that introduce a particular type of temporal homeostasis on the system, which would not alter the functions assigned to the individual assemblages of the smooth-striated.

Finally, the outcomes of the research have resulted in a series of maps, plans, landmarks, and itineraries that function as traces in the process of becoming involved in the interaction between the smooth-striated and the fixed space-time.