Perpetual Doubt, Constant Becoming

The philosophical proposition of the rhizome offers a “structure” (or anti-structure) that goes some way to describing the often unnameable, intangible processes required for the production of art—establishing a set of conditions that support the necessity for unknowingness and uncertainty as methodology.

In taking the rhizome as a basic principal for consideration in the generation of physical work, employing emergent processes rather than construction by design, my practice engages this key concept from Deleuze and Guattari in multiple ways:

In aiming to be composed “not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion,” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 21) the work consists of many strands, structured from hundreds of thousands of rubber bands, that wrap, stretch, loop, hang, and twist around and across an architectural space. The work exists in the space between, growing among things, opportunistically inhabiting and encompassing architecture as part of its structure where the work “forms a rhizome with the world” (ibid., 11)—rather than existing separately to it.

The work does not rest within a single discipline: the lines act like drawings in three dimensions—it consumes and melds with architecture, the push and pull of effusive colour in space emphasises painterly qualities while often referencing, in it’s analogue form, digital technologies and the vastness of “the web.” The practice exists more broadly within the expanded field of sculptural installation where ideas and processes for generating art are not separable into constituent parts but exist in symbiosis.

The entangled network of filaments from which the work is constructed are like threads of visual organisation connecting any point to any other point in a meshwork and bit-coding of information. The seemingly abstract, annotative qualities of the work act like a mapping in the space of its own making. The vibrating strands become a fluid diagram—“a shifting map” (ibid., 19)—of the performative act that constituted its construction.

There are different timescales embedded in the work. The piece may take minutes, hours, or days to install, although the strands, with their handmade morphology, have been hundreds, thousands of hours in the making.

The elastic band is a unit of variable measure, therefore the work lacks exactitude as its overall length is immeasurable and is relative to the amount of tension and weight exerted upon the ropes. The strands are still being made, but there is no definable amount, no given end to the making of the material: “It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle from which it grows and which it overspills.” (ibid., 21) There are many beginnings and ends lost among the mass metreage of loops that expand or contract across space.

Nomadic in nature the work can be packed down and reinstalled (almost) anywhere. Taking form for a finite period of time until rolled up ready to be remade in a unique, but relative, form in another time and space—much as worm-casts represent the aftermath of movement through the ground and exist for a while on the surface until they become washed down again by rain. They can reform, but each time, differently.

The title of the work reflects the overarching uncertainty of process through which one may burrow to arrive at the production of an artwork. The work is a processual murmuration where any seeming point of arrival quickly loses itself as it melds into a point of departure—the journey to seek form continues—arrested momentarily only by fleeting instances of articulation.

References

Deleuze, Giles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. “Introduction: Rhizome.” In A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi, 3-25. London: Continuum.

Mouldworks: An Art Rhizomatic Inquiry into Haecceities in Material (and) Thought

Conducting an art-philosophical inquiry into the Polish neo-avant-garde artist Marek Konieczny and his mobilisation of Polish Baroque, I have embarked on what Simon O’Sullivan calls “art rhizomatics.” O’Sullivan (2006, 36–37) defines “a rhizomatics of art” as a mode of art writing that attends to the researcher’s particular enfoldment in the world and resonates with the art objects themselves. My art rhizomatics is an immanent research practice that generates new worlds parallel to Konieczny’s artworks themselves. For “Dark Precursor” I would like to extend this practice further to include experimentation with Deleuze-Guattarian thought, namely the concept of haecceity.

Mouldworks seeks to explore the resonance between haecceity and the materiality of mould as it emerges from my particular experience of living as an immigrant in a Dublin bedsit and researching the art of the 1970s and the Baroque amid Ireland’s newly resurgent property bubble and its attendant vectors of gentrification, the debate about the shape of the new multicultural Ireland, and the influx of refugees.

Deleuze and Guattari (2005, 261) define haecceity as “a mode of individuation distinct from that of a thing or a subject” epitomised by “a season.” They posit haecceities as a set of coordinates, “the sum total of the material elements belonging [to a body] under given relations of movement and rest, speed and slowness (longitude); the sum total of the intensive affects it is capable of . . . (latitude).” Many commentators have emphasised the individual, yet impersonal nature of haecceities (Young 2013, 153).

Mouldworks explores migrating mould colonies as a diagram of heterogeneous force relations penetrating both the molecular and the social planes. Notoriously unwieldy—in a state of constant asexual reproduction and vibrating across diverse milieus—mould spores affect in unpredictable ways, secreting diverse colours, textures, and distribution patterns. Therefore, they can be considered haecceities.

Rather than develop gigantic land art projects like those by Robert Smithson, my particular longitude offers the infinitesimal realm of mould as my field of operation. Inhaling Dublin mould every day, I think about the iconic photography of Roman Vishniac who turned away from the documentation of diaspora cultures to embrace photomicroscopy, therefore revealing diaspora as a haecceity.

Mouldworks attempts to register the diasporic haecceities by putting into mutual resonance a series of staged photographic images of humanoid figures draped in black velvet, set against Dublin’s iconic open-sea bathing places, and a video documentation of a mould removal procedure performed with a silicon cutter. The Baroque drapery with its many folds introduces perceptual instability associated with haecceities, whereas the sea is haunted by the threat of migrant invasions as well as waterborne powers of contamination.

References

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 2005. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.

O’Sullivan, Simon. 2006. Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought Beyond Representation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Young, Eugene B. 2013 “Haecceity.” In The Deleuze and Guattari Dictionary, edited by Eugene B. Young with Gary Genosko and Janell Watson, 153. New York: Bloomsbury.

A as in Animal

Art, according to Gilles Deleuze, does not produce concepts, though it does address problems and provocations (Grosz 2008). The video “A as in Animal” is an artwork that is on the lookout for encounters. Assembled edits and cuts within the video are rendered both exact and invisible, inciting both problems and provocations. Processes of performative assemblage and appropriation are constants through the work as a critical engagement with post-production, philosophies, and the mediated. The work draws on Deleuzian concepts of assemblage and multiplicitous attractions and influences, taking its title from L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze (1988–89). Deleuze didn’t think much of television and stated that the interview should not be aired before his death. In the interview, Deleuze discusses with Claire Parnet the crucial link between creativity, the very possibility of thinking, and animality, through the practice of être aux aguets (being on the lookout) for rencontres (encounters). To avoid zigzagging in his discourse, Deleuze received the list of topics beforehand, and although he worked assiduously on the answers, he then improvised during the recordings (Peter Stamer 2014).

“A as in Animal” assembles collected material from this interview and other sources from internet searches and YouTube browsing activities. The best of Deleuze can be found on the internet for sure—working and thinking through performative assemblage(s) of browser doings, apparatus, or equipment structurings, rhizomatic unfoldings, non-human historiographies, and philosophies. The film highlights search actions of retrieval and playback. Panic or anxiety fluctuates across a variety of disciplines including, among others, linguistics, gender studies, social theories, and art practices. Keeping fit with Donna Haraway, Derrida, blue and green screen special effects, and a spy mission project “Acoustic Kitty.” Together with reverse path tracings, dissonance, discordance, and difference are brought into close proximity without a video camera or recording device, and spread “like the surface of a body of water, spreading towards available spaces or trickling downwards towards new spaces through fissures and gaps, eroding what is in its way.”

Emergent indeterminate properties pervade both sound and image. We cannot know whether we are inside or outside through use of blue screen and green screen effects. Images and sounds, objects and things highlight contingency and multiplicity and overlap. This approach articulates activities of accumulation, arrangement, and movement that call attention to processes, which are improvisatory. Activities that are on the lookout for encounters, movement, and “doing” are prioritised. Through this process, less emphasis is placed on observation, representation, and subjectivity. Articulations stutter between different intensities, intensities that include over-saturation of colour, shimmering substances, non-diegetic sound, and transdisciplinary couplings that are resonant with rubbing up to the non human. The video work is shaped conceptually by site and the context of peripheral indifferences. Software presets and preconditions are cut with modalities of classification and taxonomy that flicker with continued involuntary repetition of sounds and image. The cat breaks the bowl, the cubists spend their time trying to glue it back together.

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 2008. “N as in Neurology.” In Gilles Deleuze from A to Z, with Claire Parnet, directed by Pierre-André Boutang, translated by Charles Stivale. Cambridge, MA: Semiotext(e), DVD.

Grosz, Elisabeth. 2008. Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth. New York: Columbia University Press.

Stamer, Peter. 2014. 26 Letters to Deleuze. A project by Peter Stamer with Jörg Laue and Alain Franco at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. A work-in-progress performance Saturday 22 March. Accessed 20 October 2015. http://peterstamer.com/works/26-letters-to-deleuze/.

Cutting up Conference Papers

“Breaking” is the main theme running through my work but it arises in many different contexts and I deal with it on different planes. My research simultaneously explores and draws parallels between personal experiences in life: breaking bones, making/breaking sculpture, and philosophical concepts of the break.

During my doctoral research one of my supervisors commented on my writing that any paragraph from any section could easily be placed into any other section and that themes reoccurred throughout. As I started physically cutting, rearranging, and adding new thoughts and sources on Post-it notes, I realised a distinct similarity with the processes I use in my sketchpad where visual material is stuck in with masking tape enabling rearrangement on a daily basis. I ceased to worry about finding a definitive structure to my writing and instead perceived the process as playful and under continual review. Juxtaposition of material from various disciplines brought different structures into contact, creating breaks on a philosophical level and a methodology of breaking.

This draws upon William Burroughs’s (2003) “cut-up technique,” which interested him because of the unpredictable spontaneity this method introduced. In my sculptural installations audience participation in breaking similarly introduced unpredictability and uncertainty through the variety of responses and interactions. This led me to explore audience participation in my writing through experimental formats for conference papers for example, allowing the audience to cut up, reconfigure, and add to my paper before I re-presented it.

For the duration of this conference I propose using audience participation to create a continually shifting assemblage of writing and images. I would prefer this to be sited in a space that people move through or a social space, such as a corridor or bar, to allow for frequent informal interaction. On day one I would like to introduce the project and provide Post-it notes on which participants can write their personal experience of breaking and then add to this space. Following this, I will invite participants to cut sections from Deleuze and Guattari’s Capitalism and Schizophrenia (2004a, 2004b) and add these to their experiences. If presenters at the conference are willing, I would like them to add any notes they have used to prepare or deliver their own presentations. Throughout I would encourage constant rearrangement and additions as people see connections or related structures.

The form of Capitalism and Schizophrenia reflects its content in that my experience of reading the book exemplified what I was reading: some parts were read in a linear order; however, I re-read some sections many times and didn’t read others at all. Disassembling the book and utilising fragments to create a changing assemblage fits with this ethos. The intention is to use Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas on structure to reflect on the process (and include these reflections back into the process). Starting from participants’ personal experiences encourages a shift from abstract theory toward lived experience; the resulting tension could, for example, be interpreted through concepts of smooth and striated. My authoritative position is challenged as the viewer’s participation introduces multiple views; opening possibilities to reflect on arborescence and rhizomatic structuring.

References

Burroughs, William. 2003. “The Cut Up Method of Brion Gysin.” In The New Media Reader, edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montford, 89–92. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 2004a. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. London: Continuum.

—. 2004b. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. London: Continuum.