Hollywood Flatlands: Taking a Line for a Walk

Sergei Eisenstein’s conceptual contribution to an infinitely elastic cartoon line—he was working on an unfinished book on Walt Disney at that time—is centred on the capacity of stroke drawing to assume any form whatever in a continuous amoeba-like contour: an ability he describes as “plasmaticness,” behaving like the primal protoplasm. In contrast to a structural line, which maintains its precise shape and would break under pressure, the plastic line assumes a polyformic character and also produces polymorphic characters on the page or screen. A sort of vitality is built in here, whereby the line becomes a human/inhuman agent reproducing “life’s” unpredictability. On the agenda of “Hollywood Flatlands” is line reading: to look at different conceptions of the figurative line in motion, and from there trace concepts of a vital and poetic line, as well as animation’s dedication to reproduction and lifelikeness.

This is a proposal for an image lecture based on a seminar, titled “Vital lines,” which I run at Goldsmiths, University of London. From six sessions in total, one lecture/seminar has been chosen to be translated into a flow of images in response to the written manuscript. Nothing is spoken; the image assemblage speaks its own rhythm, vocabulary. Conceptually, plasmaticness or the vital line links to a current voicing of Guattari, his thinking (partially in the shadow of Deleuze) in the process of becoming key to reading immediate living–working environments—their interconnectedness, drifts.

My dedication to Deleuze and Guattari’s thinking began when working on a PhD in fine arts at Central Saint Martins, London, in 2000. The image lecture proposed here takes account of how the two thinkers have informed my art research in the subsequent years. It does so in discreet and almost clandestine ways: surpassing text, affirming modesty and ignorance, avoiding an overload of linguistics—logocentrism. Thereby the formation of a (speaking) subject or subjectivity is superseded by avoiding one form, mode, and voice of interpretation of a given content/written words. In this sense my contribution also subtly refers to Guattari’s “theory of enunciation, in which . . . the ground of enunciation is existential, not discursive” and Maurizio Lazzarato’s (2014) call for “ethical differentiation” and a constructed subject-function in communication and language:

The subject-function in communication and language is in no way natural: on the contrary, it has to be constructed and imposed. According to Deleuze and Guattari, the subject is neither a precondition of language nor is it the cause of a statement. Deleuze argues that we as subjects are not what generate the statements in each of us; they are produced by something entirely different, by ‘multiplicities, masses and packs, peoples and tribes: all collective arrangements which are within us and for which we are vehicles, without knowing precisely what those arrangements are.’ These are what make us speak, and they are the true drivers of our statements. There is no subject, only collective arrangements of enunciation which produce statements. ‘The statement is always collective, even when it appears to be expressed by a unique, solitary individual such as the artist.’” (Lazzarato 2006)

The three components of this presentation (the original lecture, the image lecture, and the presentation at the conference) inflect each other and relate to plasmaticness, the key concept of the image lecture, not in the way they together or on their own reiterate—to a degree—the very function of “subject” and a neglect of an originary form, but, rather, in the naturalness of “things” and a structural sense of elasticity, poetry, and something potentially polyformic and polymorphic. (Instead of being considered a literal claim of plasmaticness, this is an enquiry into certain properties of a contemporary, i.e., current, plasmaticness on the basis of other technological and historical-conceptual means.) A score will be produced during the conference.

References

Leyda, Jay, ed. 1986. Eisenstein on Disney. Translated by Alan Upchurch. Calcutta: Seagull Books.

Lazzarato, Maurizio. 2006. “The Machine.” Transversal, October. Accessed 14 October 2015. http://eipcp.net/transversal/1106/lazzarato/en/#_ftn2.

Lazzarato, Maurizio. 2014. Signs and Machines: Capitalism and the Production of Subjectivity. Translated by Joshua David Jordan. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e).