Mobilising Deleuze: Thinking in Images and Sounds

Our presentation refers to the project “Other Spaces—Knowledge through Art.” Funded by FWF Austrian Science Fund, the project brought together artists and scientists, with their differing means of approaching the world. Focusing on Deleuze’s notion that the process of becoming is essential in thinking about philosophy, art, and science, the means at our disposal were those that artists and scientists utilise when writing, composing, staging, philosophising, interpreting, inventing, informing, and so on. The question of which aspects can be seen as common and/or different was not prematurely hypostasised with scientifically formulated theories, but was instead left open, thereby enlarging the realm of possibility for the unexpected or surprising.

The presentation shows the outcomes of a collaboration between conceptual art, cultural sociology, and composition, in the form of an audio-visual production named “Al niente—A Dissolution.” This Italian musical phrase literally says “to nothing,” meaning a diminuendo that fades until nothing is heard anymore—“a living silence” for the video’s makers Adreis Echzehn and Elfie Miklautz, who in this way examine the phenomenology of hearing and time experiences in other spaces.

Their double-screen video with an independent soundtrack by two collaborating composers follows a triple blind concept based on a compilation of music and sounds, videos, texts, and photographs produced by the authors. The focus is upon finding spaces in which everyday temporal constructs are lifted, permitting a deceleration to be experienced. It is about the search for heterotopias in which silence becomes audible, about experiencing the atmosphere of a place through the sense of hearing, thus exploring and exhibiting correspondences between exterior spatial experiences and sound spaces and interior experience spaces.

What we want to discuss after showing the video is the cooperation between artists and a scientist working independently of one another to create a common result that went beyond the differences, showing repetitions with minimal but substantial aberrations and following different paths of transition. Our creation is, so to say, an example of answering the question raised in the call for the conference: “the question of how a communication between heterogenous systems, ‘of couplings and resonance,’ occurs without being predetermined.” We will show and talk about how we composed these resonances and how we created “new couplings that are not accidental but rigorous and at the same time indeterminate.” The challenge for the scientist was working without any concepts and definitions—for example, of silence or nothingness—but instead experimenting with contemplating: trying to find the passage from affections and perceptions to affects and percepts in a Deleuzian sense with the aim to create a bloc of sensations standing for itself, untranslatable into words and assumptions. Contemplating in this way means becoming the percepted part of the world, having passed into it—“We are not in the world, we become with the world; we become by contemplating it . . . Becoming animal, plant, molecular, becoming zero” (Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy? Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994, 169).


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.


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.