Lines of Flight: Gilles Deleuze Glossaries

Lines of Flight: Gilles Deleuze Glossaries was my graduation project at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2015. The series encompasses three glossaries: “The Fold” and “Difference and Repetition,” based on the books of the same name by Gilles Deleuze, and “Rhizome,” based on the text by Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

These books are an attempt to apply Deleuze’s concepts formally, as a design method, in the binding and editing of the text. The content is a collection of some of the visual, literary, and cultural references made by the philosopher as he elaborates his ideas, an indication of his advanced knowledge of past and present art and culture intricately interwoven into his complex arguments. I have added images or fragments of text illustrating my own attempt to access, navigate, and acquire some of this encyclopaedic knowledge.

The three glossaries have a strong sculptural aspect, but are also at the same time books— their aim is to be read. While reading them may feel unusual and slightly disorienting, the experience of looking, leafing, or scrolling through them functions as a part of understanding their content. Two of the three books have no clear beginning or end because Deleuze himself argues his texts can and should be accessed at any point, read in a non-linear fashion.

The way the glossaries are regarded is strongly dependent upon the context in which they are encountered. When exhibited in a gallery setting, despite also including copies for leafing through and reading the text and despite written encouragement to do so, most viewers are reluctant to touch them and prone to regard them as objects rather than texts, walking around them and only admiring their formal qualities. The general fear of destroying an artwork prevails over the curiosity of reading. In more informal settings, most books lose their status as art objects and are treated more freely, although the Fold seems to still pose problems with respect to its proper opening and closing—that is, folding out from and back to a flat shape. Readers tend to think a book should look the same when repeatedly closed, which is not a mandatory aspect of these books at all. Performances of the three books being read at regular intervals put people more at ease with them, by showing them how to treat the shapes when reading them. After the performances, the books are always left in a different position/configuration.

My work is entitled lines of flight as a translation of the French lignes de fuite. The translator, Brian Massumi, notes that, in French, “Fuite covers not only the act of fleeing or eluding but also flowing, leaking, and disappearing into the distance (the vanishing point in a painting is a point de fuite). It has no relation to flying.” As a designer, many of my points of access to Deleuze’s concepts were visual and tactile, as the frequent visual illustrations appearing in my glossaries can attest. I hope my glossaries will incite their readers to find their own knowledge paths within them.

The Fold: A Physical Model of Abstract Reversibility and Envelopment

For artistic research, the model of the fold is exceptionally interesting because it deals with how form and content intertwine in a physical model, and how concrete and abstract interrelate on the plane of consistency. In my paper I focus on chapter two of Deleuze’s The Fold (1992) and take up the concept of “inflection” as an elastic point in the model of the fold that discloses a reality of reversibility. I intend to demonstrate through artworks the concept of “Foldings, or the Inside of Thought” (Deleuze 1988, 95).

Deleuze (1992, 15) states that for Paul Klee the point as a “nonconceptual concept of noncontradiction” moves along an inflection. “It is the point of inflection itself, where the tangent crosses the curve. That is the point-fold” (ibid., 15). Through a simple sketch, Deleuze demonstrates how the point of inflection is the point where the concave turns convex. This is the point of inflection. What happens in the point of inflection? Is it a conjunction? A passage? It would seem that this very special point is a point that conceals a profound metaphysical realisation. It is a physical point in the attribute of extension that corresponds to an invisible point of abstraction in the attribute of thought. Deleuze wants to draw attention to this point by referring to the thinking of Leibniz, the Neoplatonists, Spinoza, and Whitehead.

Because of the existence of concave and convex, there are different points of view, depending on which place we see from. The enfolding reality has multiple points of view; each point of view is a perspective. It appears that we are captured in our point of view. There is always a reversible side of a point of view, and by the power of the imagination we can think the concept of reversibility. A physical model of the fold reveals, in fact, a metaphysical reality of the attributes and the power of the attributes, according to Deleuze’s references to Spinoza. Deleuze’s ideas encompass several crucial things: first, we assume that reality has a mirroring construction; in other words, reality corresponds to an abstract reality that the model of the fold demonstrates. That is to say, physical reality and abstraction are two sides of the same coin. Second, the model of enfolding implies an innate life, the life of a monad, a singularity as a soul. Deleuze (1992, 24) writes, “We are moving from inflection to inclusion in a subject, as if from virtual to the real, inflection defining the fold, but inclusion defining the soul or the subject, that is, what envelops the fold, its final cause and its complete act.” Finally, Deleuze (ibid., 29) asks, “in order that the virtual can be incarnated of effectuated, is something needed other than this actualization in the souls? Is a realization in the matter also required, because the folds of this matter might happen to reduplicate the folds in the soul?”

The “point of inflection” is abstract and physical, a corresponding reversibility. I explore whether a “realization in matter,” a physical manifestation of foldings, affects an abstract reality. My art form is “objects of folding.” By letting folds coagulate, I “freeze” the process to a fixed form to let a “nondimensional point between dimensions” (Deleuze 1992, 16) become visible.


Deleuze, Gilles. 1988. Foucault. Translated and edited by Seán Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

—. 1992. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. Translated by Tom Conley. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Peau/Pli: A Skype Performance and Its Metamorphoses

An actor reciting Deleuze and Anzieu and a dancer in a bubble. A delirium of words, electric signals, movements. Criticising and exploring connections, intercorporeality, and processes of embodiment.

The outside is not a fixed limit but a moving matter animated by peristaltic movements, folds, and foldings that together make up an inside: they are not something other than the outside, but precisely the inside of the outside (Deleuze 1993, 96–97).

In the performance PEAU/PLI the ubiquity of different media moistens the physical sensation of the participants. Enfolded by the noise of the data cloud, the “Skin-Ego” (Anzieu 1985) loses its contour, the boundary between the self and the environment is no longer clearly determined. Thousands of Deleuzian “folds” are to be experienced.

An actor performs texts by Anzieu and Deleuze in a former worker’s pub. He interacts via Skype and electric vibrations with a dancer in a plastic bubble, enfolding his “Skin-Ego” in the streets of the surrounding quarter. In the hyperlocal encounter of the interacting improvisation, dissonant presence experiences are evoked by the artists. The performance was folded again and again, for example, at gallery Schaufenster in Selestat (France), at Regionale 2014 and in the book Intercorporeal Splits (Fetzner and Dornberg 2015).

Which forms of artistic encounters and of collective forms of thought and affect arise in this performance and its metamorphoses? What kind of place, time, and body relationships emerge? Which roles play the technical, medial, and topological agents in the formation of the common intercorporealities and in the emergent socio-technological processes? How can the philosophy of Deleuze contribute to our understanding or/and influence these projects and the corresponding processes of artistic research, its methodologies, and its transdisciplinarity?



Anzieu, Didier. 1985. Le Moi-Peau. Paris: Dunod.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1993. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. Translated by Tom Conley. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

Fetzner, Daniel, and Martin Dornberg, eds. 2015. Intercorporeal Splits: Künstlerische Forschung zur Medialität von Stimme, Haut, Rhythmus. Leipzig: Open House.

The Pleats of Matter / The Matter of Pleats

This presentation comprises two intertwined components—“The Pleats of Matter” and “The Matter of Pleats”—as the perspectives from both composer and performer, respectively, on the Deleuzian concept of the fold as exemplified through the case study of Aaron Cassidy’s The Pleats of Matter for solo electric guitar and electronics.

The composition The Pleats of Matter (2005–7), which takes its title from the first chapter of Deleuze’s The Fold, is a work that explores the nature of folds, bends, and pleats, and their concomitant implications of surplus, enveloping, collapsing, and obfuscation. It is a work in which overflowing trajectories of material and process collide, overlap, collapse, and slide, where strata melt and rupture and deform, and where form and shape are only the final by-product of lines folding into one another, of shapes subsumed by other shapes, of forms twisted within other forms.

The guitar itself is a folding: the interaction between finger and string and fret, the bending and wrapping of strings with the nut and bridge and tuning pegs, the folding and slackening from the tremolo bar. . . . In this work, these folds are all made independent—not so much layered as merely simultaneous. The two hands traverse the fretboard independently, freed from their conventional roles and geographies, the actions of the hands as likely to appear behind or above an already-depressed fret as below. Joining this interface between finger and string is the tremolo bar, itself bent and folded by both hands and the occasional elbow, two foot pedals that bend and shape and twist pitch and timbre, and a further array of amplification and processing modifications on two additional electronic strands.

In “The Matter of Pleats,” presented from the performer’s perspective, the fold is examined as a concept likely to inform processes of individuation of physical gesture. The fold, as an operation that projects towards two infinities (or an infinity in two directions: “pleats of matter” and “folds in the soul”), sets a context for discussing the differences between the inside and the outside of physical actions and musical objects. And given that both physical actions and musical objects become one and the same in Cassidy’s work, a paradigm shift from sonic means-end-oriented training (for example, of traditional virtuosity) is required, implying the claim that music exists not only in the exclusive realm of sound.