The Fold: A Physical Model of Abstract Reversibility and Envelopment

Elisabet Yanagisawa Avén

conference: DARE 2015: the dark precursor
date: November 10, 2015
venue: De Bijloke Music Center, Auditorium
format: encounter
practice: space
keywords: inflection, monad, Paul Klee, plane of consistency, Plato, singularity, The Fold

abstract video about the author(s)


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.


about the author(s)

Elisabet Yanagisawa Avén

Elisabet Yanagisawa Avén (born 1966) is an artist and PhD student at University of Gothenburg. She is currently finishing her dissertation in artistic research titled “Proximus sensibilis: The Abyss of the Surface.” The study investigates the philosophy of matter and affect through the perspective of East Asian aesthetics and Western philosophies. Focusing on the Japanese concepts of yūgen, wabi, sabi, and iki, her research emphasises aspects of intuition, artistic self-cultivation, and sensuous knowledge through an exploration of the concepts of folding, the inorganic, and ethico-aesthetics in the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, the notion of conatus and the principle of affect in Spinoza, and the idea of ontological beauty in Whitehead. Through her artistic practice, Yanagisawa explores multi-sensibility in participatory artworks such as her Dreaming of the Intimacy of Materia, and by reassessing the way of tea, olfactory art, and haptic matter. Her work has been exhibited in Japan and she has curated shows of Japanese artists in Sweden.

info & contact


University of Gothenburg, SE


elisabet.yanagisawa.aven [AT]