“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.
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.