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.