Hollywood Flatlands: Taking a Line for a Walk

Verina Gfader, Mikhail Karikis

conference: DARE 2015: the dark precursor
date: November 10, 2015
venue: Orpheus Institute, Concert Hall
format: performed
practice: image
keywords: cartoon, Maurizio Lazzarato, plasmaticity, plasmaticness, Sergei Eisenstein

abstract video about the author(s)


Sergei Eisenstein’s conceptual contribution to an infinitely elastic cartoon line—he was working on an unfinished book on Walt Disney at that time—is centred on the capacity of stroke drawing to assume any form whatever in a continuous amoeba-like contour: an ability he describes as “plasmaticness,” behaving like the primal protoplasm. In contrast to a structural line, which maintains its precise shape and would break under pressure, the plastic line assumes a polyformic character and also produces polymorphic characters on the page or screen. A sort of vitality is built in here, whereby the line becomes a human/inhuman agent reproducing “life’s” unpredictability. On the agenda of “Hollywood Flatlands” is line reading: to look at different conceptions of the figurative line in motion, and from there trace concepts of a vital and poetic line, as well as animation’s dedication to reproduction and lifelikeness.

This is a proposal for an image lecture based on a seminar, titled “Vital lines,” which I run at Goldsmiths, University of London. From six sessions in total, one lecture/seminar has been chosen to be translated into a flow of images in response to the written manuscript. Nothing is spoken; the image assemblage speaks its own rhythm, vocabulary. Conceptually, plasmaticness or the vital line links to a current voicing of Guattari, his thinking (partially in the shadow of Deleuze) in the process of becoming key to reading immediate living–working environments—their interconnectedness, drifts.

My dedication to Deleuze and Guattari’s thinking began when working on a PhD in fine arts at Central Saint Martins, London, in 2000. The image lecture proposed here takes account of how the two thinkers have informed my art research in the subsequent years. It does so in discreet and almost clandestine ways: surpassing text, affirming modesty and ignorance, avoiding an overload of linguistics—logocentrism. Thereby the formation of a (speaking) subject or subjectivity is superseded by avoiding one form, mode, and voice of interpretation of a given content/written words. In this sense my contribution also subtly refers to Guattari’s “theory of enunciation, in which . . . the ground of enunciation is existential, not discursive” and Maurizio Lazzarato’s (2014) call for “ethical differentiation” and a constructed subject-function in communication and language:

The subject-function in communication and language is in no way natural: on the contrary, it has to be constructed and imposed. According to Deleuze and Guattari, the subject is neither a precondition of language nor is it the cause of a statement. Deleuze argues that we as subjects are not what generate the statements in each of us; they are produced by something entirely different, by ‘multiplicities, masses and packs, peoples and tribes: all collective arrangements which are within us and for which we are vehicles, without knowing precisely what those arrangements are.’ These are what make us speak, and they are the true drivers of our statements. There is no subject, only collective arrangements of enunciation which produce statements. ‘The statement is always collective, even when it appears to be expressed by a unique, solitary individual such as the artist.’” (Lazzarato 2006)

The three components of this presentation (the original lecture, the image lecture, and the presentation at the conference) inflect each other and relate to plasmaticness, the key concept of the image lecture, not in the way they together or on their own reiterate—to a degree—the very function of “subject” and a neglect of an originary form, but, rather, in the naturalness of “things” and a structural sense of elasticity, poetry, and something potentially polyformic and polymorphic. (Instead of being considered a literal claim of plasmaticness, this is an enquiry into certain properties of a contemporary, i.e., current, plasmaticness on the basis of other technological and historical-conceptual means.) A score will be produced during the conference.


Leyda, Jay, ed. 1986. Eisenstein on Disney. Translated by Alan Upchurch. Calcutta: Seagull Books.

Lazzarato, Maurizio. 2006. “The Machine.” Transversal, October. Accessed 14 October 2015. http://eipcp.net/transversal/1106/lazzarato/en/#_ftn2.

Lazzarato, Maurizio. 2014. Signs and Machines: Capitalism and the Production of Subjectivity. Translated by Joshua David Jordan. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e).


about the author(s)

Verina Gfader

Verina Gfader is an artist and Postdoctoral Fellow at The Contemporary Condition, Aarhus University. Beyond academic work she is Creative Director for EP, a new book series across art, architecture, and design from Sternberg Press, Berlin; she is currently researching for the second volume, Design Fiction. Her postdoctoral research, after studies in visual media, photography, and fine arts, included a research residency at Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai) to explore the structural coherence between non-commercial Japanese animation and geographical, institutional, and social ideas. Her current focus is on animation–vital lines–concepts of vitality; volcano islands, statelessness, and distant fictions; cognitive capitalism; and text and alliance, expanded geographical space, and the accumulative nature of knowledge in art. In her practice she pursues models, drawing, text material, and fictional institutions. Projects include Adventure-Landing: A Compendium of Animation (authored book, 2011), “Talk Geometries: Towards Anime’s Sensorial Vocabularies” (invited speaker), Kinema Club Conference for Film and Moving Images from Japan XIII, Reischauer Institute, Harvard University (2014); and “Saas-Fee Summer Institute: Art and the Politics of Estrangement” (participant), Saas-Fee, Switzerland (2015).

info & contact


Aarhus University, DK


verinagfader [AT] cc.au.dk




Mikhail Karikis

Mikhail Karikis is a Greek/British artist living in London. He studied with avant-garde British architects Archigram, theatre director Philip Prowse, art theorist Norman Bryson, and artist Lis Rhodes. The title of his doctoral thesis at the Slade is “The Acoustics of the Self” (2006). His work embraces a variety of media to create immersive audio-visual installations and performances that emerge from his long-standing investigation of the voice as a sculptural material and a socio-political agent. He often collaborates with communities whose lives challenge the mainstream, highlighting alternative modes of human existence and action.

info & contact


University of Huddersfield and University of Brighton, UK


mail [AT] mikhailkarikis.com