The Minor Actor: The Composing Plane of Performative Bodies

Whereas Deleuze’s engagement was to follow “aberrant movements” through literature, painting, thinking, and so on, he never explored such movements in the theatre. This    is probably because he did not like theatre, as he recognised himself. However, certain specific practices—such as Carmelo Bene’s minor theatre, or The Exhausted in Beckett’s work, and intensity as described by Artaud—served his thinking. My ongoing research in the field of performing arts aims to reflect the contemporary scene from the perspective of performers’ bodies. It does so by trying to track traces of a quality that I will call the minor actor, which derives from a minor author, a minor literature, a minor theatre. These are certainly not adjectives but rather operations, procedures within macro structures. The performing arts were for a long time the ground for imitation and reproduction but are increasingly moving to other forms of play that refer more to the emergence of presence instead of representation. This research brings an overview through bodies (understood also as a voice) as the matter of expression, trying to map connections and subversions that can make zones of indeterminacy emerge. “There are animal-becomings of man which do not consist in playing the dog or the cat, since man and the animal only meet on the trajectory of  a common but asymmetrical deterritorialization.” Although, the art of being onstage recurs constantly to a kind of  virtuosity, the technique appears as both  a weapon and a trap. It is necessary to subvert the technique to make it a piece for an expressive machine.

I believe that, as in minor literature, “the problem is not that of being free but of finding a way out.” What kind of violence is necessary to bring alive the moment of “presentation,” where performers can find the way out? How could they capture the forces of an animal, as the irrefutable presence of a furious creature? More head, less face; greater instinct, less intention; more procedures, fewer characters. The minor actor is an occurrence not    a subject: a zone of  indiscernibility between the human and the animal; a relevance    for the skin while we work over the flesh. The “actor” rescues its original meaning: one who acts, who can put in movement. The “minor” derives from a procedure that is always collective, politic, subversive, inaugural, where the critic is an operation not an opinion, where we can find alliances instead of filiations. The double capture occurs in the zone of indeterminacy between the performer and his or her becoming, between the training and the fact, between the matter (the body) and the expression, between the virtuosity and the violence. The research is impelled to extend Deleuze’s work of demonstrating, capturing, and analysing aberrant movements. However, the risk of doing this takes place in a very sensitive field: performative bodies in rehearsal rooms and scenes through specific cases. When it is possible, we track traces of a double capture, to mark an outline of performers’ ways out.

Matter-Flow: Studies of Minor Composition

Among Deleuze’s encounters with art, jewellery has certainly never had any particular relevance, if compared with literature, painting, cinema, or music. And yet, jewellery making and metal arts (metallurgy, smithery, metalworking) more widely, appear at a crucial juncture of A Thousand Plateaus. Not only because of their relation to “nomadism”—“something lights up in our mind,” Deleuze writes, “when we are told that metalworking was the ‘barbarian’ or nomad art par excellence, and when we see these masterpieces of minor art” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 401)—but above all because metal is the pure matter-movement, or “matter-flow.” Metal, Deleuze says, is “neither a thing nor an organism, but a body without organs,” the “conductor of all matter” (ibid., 411). The “first and primary itinerant,” then, is the artisan-metallurgist, who follows the flow of matter. Metal arts let emerge “a vital state of matter as such, a material vitalism”: a “nonorganic life” (ibid.). For Deleuze, “Metal is what forces us to think matter, and it is what forces us to think matter as continuous variation” (Deleuze 1979)—that is, as pure “modulation” (in Simondon’s sense). Metal and metal arts, then, allow us to break with the form-matter dualism of the hylomorphic model, typically exemplified by moulding techniques. Instead of a succession of forms and variability of matters, metal arts indeed operate a capture of nonorganic forces through a “continuous development of form” and a “continuous variation of matter” (from which also follows, according to Deleuze, the essential relationship between metallurgy and music). In short, the artisan-metallurgist replaces the static relation, form-matter, with the dynamic relation, “material-forces,” creating properly metallic “affects.”

This conception opens the possibility of a decisive displacement with respect to contemporary jewellery, which remains mostly tied to figuration (or organic representation) and the hylomorphic model by merely reproducing forms and looking for a diversity of materials. The pursuit of this possibility is the attempt of the works I present. The aim is to experiment with a non-hylomorphic approach to matter-flow and the genesis of forms. To this end, I tried to construct an assemblage between two heterogeneous material elements (metal and glass formed by lightning-induced melting of sand) upon which I performed different processes of deformation. The result is a series of “consolidated aggregates,” of “coupled figures,” where the metallic form is not obtained by any casting or moulding operation (such as lost wax casting or electroforming), but primarily by means of one of the most ancient goldsmith’s techniques (though completely liberated from any decorative, figurative, or narrative function), called repoussé, which consists of a continuously variable modulation or folding of thin metal leaves. The genesis of form is thus immanent and topological (instead of transcendent and geometrical), inseparable from forces exerted upon the material. This reveals a “vague” materiality in which forms are not imposed to matter but emerge as intensive affects of the material itself. These works of minor art thus attempt to contribute to the questioning of what Deleuze calls a “phenomenology of matter.”

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 1979. “Metal, metallurgie, musique, Husserl, Simondon. Cours Vincennes 27/02/1979.” Available at: http://www.webdeleuze.com/php/texte.php?cle=185&groupe=Anti%20Oedipe%20et%20Mille%20Plateaux&langue=1 [accessed 1 October 2015]

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

More Brilliant Than the Past

This is a proposal for a more open and communal approach to dark precursor in the sense of not suggesting a traditional presentation, but rather a production-in-time. On the basis of my experience and editorial/research/textual artistic practice, I propose to “archive” or “protocol” the conference, engaging with what is happening there directly and with the community. The focus will be on one day in particular. The taking account of the “now” may also include looking at the actual surroundings and topography of/around the Orpheus Institute: meteorologies—study of the atmo-sphere . . . which could potentially lead into a piece of printed matter or a virtual resource (score, glossary, poster, semi-fictional account) with the focus on a collective voice rather than my own individual self. An alternative format of what is called conference proceedings?!

Conference participants should be aware of my activity of collecting during the event and of the subsequent piece, which is to be published and made accessible to readers in the conference proceedings. (Former projects can be found there too, to underline my continuing work on printed matter, textualities, and re-formatting formats.)

De-authored production is the natural state of things, for artists, curators, and producers. The idea of authorship in terms of autonomy or ownership is a market term, not a philosophical one. Nothing exists in a void, and that’s why the word process always pops up (or its contemporary synonym, research)—the process of how a community or an idea emerges . . . I think what we do is editing, not publishing. (Eldahab 2011)

Unfolding the connections of the intervention to Deleuze/Guattari here is grounded in expanding the thinking around fabulation, the “act of legending,” and communities—that is, a people to come—essentially to reclaim a space and voice for futurity (the capital of time) as it is trapped in our lives, inextricably linked with the false supremacy of capitalism.

Fabulation is a superior concept because its essence is to activate the “powers of the false,” to falsify orthodox truths in the process of generating emergent truths. To fabulate, in Pierre Perrault’s words, is to “legend in flagrante delicto” (cited in Deleuze 1989, 150; translation modified), and in doing so, to summon forth a ‘people to come’. (Bogue 2011)

Further references to Deleuze and Guattari: there are sensual, methodological, intense–flat, conceptual, diagrammatic, stratigraphic, mad connections emphasised in the way my art research is one among many, whose work is heavily informed by their various elaborations. Recent interest includes specifically Guattari’s legacy in relation to the minor cinema (futurity, animation) and then again, and again, La Borde economies.

The title is a homage to More Brilliant Than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction by Kodwo Eshun (1998).

References

Bogue, Ronald. 2011. “Deleuze and Guattari and the Future of Politics: Science Fiction, Protocols and the People to Come.” Deleuze Studies 5, supplement: 77–97. Accessed 14 October 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/dls.2011.0038.

ElDahab, Mai Abu. 2011. “Mai Abu in conversation with Will Holder.” In From Berkeley to Berkeley: Objectif Exhibitions, 2008–2010, edited by Mai Abu ElDahab, 10–11. Berlin: Sternberg Press.