All 5 entries tagged The Fold

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July 13, 2005

Research Notes: Multiplicity, co–involution, Being abstract but not generalized

Follow-up to Research Notes: Singularity/continuum, a multiplicitous event from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

More clarification of Deleuze's post-Kantian theory of multiplicitous singularities.

"They say: look at chaos, death and by implication life, right in the eyes, get to know each individual chaos, each death and each life on its own terms."

There's no need for a generalized chaos or passage into chaos (death) in this theory. Every passage into chaos is singular, belonging to an individual or perspective, but the specific chaosmos into which it moves (and from which it is generated) is shared by individuals, deteritorializing together with relative degrees of seperation and involution. The singularity, the perspective, is therefore multiple.

In The Fold Deleuze is concerned with a second dimension (level) to these sensii communis. A superfold that traverses across the individual passages into a shared chaos, formed by the non-linear inter-relations between individuals passing into and out of a shared chaosmos. Or to be more precise, there is an iterative series of levels, from pre-individual singularities, connected up transversally by individuals, and the individuals connected up in other ways such as a socius and capitalist axiomatics.

It could be said that an abstracted Being is shared by each level, and between the levels. This being the plane of consistency or immanence. Is this just their virtuality, their shared principle or movement?


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June 01, 2005

Deleuze's abuse of the history of philosophy

With regards to his books on key conceptual personae such as Leibniz, Deleuze was not an archaeologist in the style of Foucault. There is no careful uncovering of strata. It is more like excavating with a JCB. But that doesn't matter, the creation of good concepts is more important.

The important thing is to create concepts with 'precision'. Not many achieve that aim, especially in this field. Papers on Deleuze tend to the extremes of either grand impressionism on the one hand, and vacuous taxonomic pedantry on the other. Perhaps that could be said of much that passes as philosophy. So when writing on Deleuze, it is important to understand exactly what is meant when he calls for precision in philosophy and in writing about the history of philosophy.

The precision of a concept is defined by its wealth of connections, by the work that it does in relation to the plane external to the concept, the plane in which it is constituted. Deleuze befriends the conceptual personae of Leibniz, Spinoza and others primarily with the aim of stealing their concepts into a plane that is different to those in which they were born. Faithful authenticity is never really the aim. The precision to which Deleuze aspires is not that of the authentic reading, of the recreation of long dead philosophical problems and their concepts. If it were, then perhaps all of those books about the history of philosophy would simply act as a long drawn out answer to the question "what is a concept?". In fact when he does finally address that question he couldn't be more flippant with his reading of Descartes.

Deleuze knew from that start that reconstituting concepts on a plane that no longer exists and no longer does any work only results in vacuity. Even the most authentic reading lacks precision. He was not an archaeologist in the style of Foucault, there is no careful uncovering of strata. This is more like excavating tombs with a JCB. Seeking and reanimating concepts that have been aborted by the history of philosophy is what he does best. But his Leibniz and Spinoza are Frankensteins. Picture this: Leibniz with an arm amputated from Thom, a leg stitched on from Cache, Koch's curve for a back, and Klee's hands. What a monster. Are we supposed to laugh at it? Or be terrified?


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November 07, 2004

Excellent David Burrows exhibition at the Mead – New Life

Writing about web page

It is rare for an artist to produce a work that is both stunning visually, having effect beyond the visual, and philosophically fascinating. In his exhibition New Life, currently installed in the Mead Gallery at the University of Warwick (ends 4th December 2004), Dave Burrows has done just that.

The artwork is stunning:

Firstly, what does this exhibition feel like? Stepping inside the large white room, taking up half of the Mead's extensive gallery space, you are quickly drawn past a manifesto-like statement of propositions and into a three dimensional, immersive work that explodes space and compresses time. Across the room debris is strewn, both in concentrations around remnants of building, and between the concentrations. You are in what appears to be a children's bedroom, filled with brightly coloured almost familiar items: flip-flops, toys etc. Between the concentrations, and extending out to the edges of the exhibition, fragments and dense layers of grey crunchy dust (as if from things or persons vapourised) are everywhere. You have to walk through the work itself to see it. You have to enter its moment. Illustrations of the aftermath hang on the walls, including opposing images of a girl and a boy. They act to extend the work out beyond the walls of the gallery. It is spatially a vast and unbounded work.

And philosophically powerful:

We are familiar with, conditioned to, artworks that are spatially constrained. Containment is a powerful mechanism in painting, as in Francis Bacon, who as Deleuze says, confines his subjects spatially (the pope in his chair). But this work seems, at first, to be uconcerned with spatial limits. There are concentrations within it, repetitions and rhythms. There is an entire cartography of intensity. But it seems more unbounded than any painting. We sense that the repetitions could extend out infinitely: the same moment but different again and again.

Narrative usually acts within a work to extend it temporally. A common rule of art is: spatially limited, temporally extended. Landscape is often used to fade out the containment to infinity. But the problem has always been that definition decreases as the distance increases. David Burrows has an interest in mirrors, and the way in which they can, if used correctly, break out of containment without a loss of detail. Perhaps the paintings at the boundary of this work are really mirrors? It certainly feels more extensive than any painting. This combines with repetition to extend the work to infinity. If there is no spatial containment, can there be narrative?

On wandering around the room I was for some time searching for narrative, in fact searching for variables that I could manipulate to play back some kind of narrative implicit in the representation of this explosive event, analysing the phenomenon as if it were the result of some kind of nuclear physics. Variables and functives like those in a scientific experiment: reversible. This is saying something about the limitations of science, and how art deals with the pure event, the event of total loss. There is, fundamentally no "external framing or exoreference" which, as Deleuze and Guattari claim (What Is Philosophy? p.119) is necessary for science. Instead there is the presence of the irreversible Chronos as opposed to the reversible Aion (Deleuze, Logic Of Sense, p.77). Anyhow, David seems to have played upon this desire for narrative sense. Slogans that could lead to some story are graffitied in random locations. The bodies of the children are suggestive of some kind of sick story. But I never got the story. Never grasped the variables. Never worked out how to replay the event. It is, as I think David said in his recent talk at the Mead, an irreversible event (thermodynamics). As described by Deleuze…

Chronos is the present which alone exists. It makes of the past and future its two oriented dimensions, so that one goes always from the past to the future… Deleuze, Logic of Sense, p. 77

…just the aftermath. Hardly identifiable to discourse. No mythology. The familiarity of the artefacts, and the familialism of the children, is just there to tease us. There are no symbolic figures to transcend this event, its got no papa-mommy (Becket via Deleuze), other than the presence of the event itself: immanent.

But there is more. Two concentratory dispositifs hang from the ceiling of the event. Yet again they reverse the normal artistic relationship between time and space. In this case space is confined, while time is opened out. They pass simulateously into its future and reach back into its past. Mobiles suspending familiar objects, either sucked up in the explosion or collapsing as debris. This is the second dimension of the event, of the moment. An indeterminacy. A dice throw…

Aion is the past-future, which in an infinite subdivision of the abstract moment endlessly decomposes itself in both directions at once and forever sidesteps the present. Deleuze, Logic of Sense, p. 77

…the 'time of the artist' as David Burrows called it. The determinacy of the exhibition, with even the movement of the audience within it making little difference, is punctuated by the hand of the artist holding the moment in these two trajectories. And they draw you in to examine the objects in their suspended animation. You begin to notice the constructedness of the objects, the craft in them, the time of their assemblage. And then are opened out onto a second, intersecting line of deterritorialization and reterritorialization, a second line of time/space containments and explosions folded onto the first. A double event.

September 15, 2004

Bergson's intuition and reflection in learning

…negative freedom is the result of manufactured social prejudices where, through social institutions, such as education and language, we become enslaved by 'order-words' that identify for us ready-made problems which we are forced to solve. This is not 'life', and it is not the way life itself has 'creatively' evolved. Therefore, true freedom, which can only be a positive freedom, lies in the power to decide through hesitation and indeterminacy and to constitute problems themselves.

Ansell Pearson, Germinal Life, Routledge 1999, p.23

This 'experimental and ethical pedagogy' (ibid, p.14) employs the Bergsonian method of intuition, which involves a reflection on the difference manifest in creative thought. When one realises that a currently held concept simply could not have existed nor could have been analytically deduced at a previous time in a previous state, one gets a sense of time as pure difference, despatialized. That feeling is creative, and the philosophical method that draws people into this reflection is Bergson's intuition. Only once the reliance on ready-made problems is abandoned can creativity occur.

The word 'implication' has a special meaning in this. Imagine reality as a large sheet of fabric. The fabric is folded to present you with one aspect, which you may grasp at. The fold (French – pli) is an aspect. You struggle to hold onto that fold, and find that you can only do so by holding onto other folds that follow on to it. As you try to grasp other folds, to unfold the folds, to follow the im-pli-cations, your actions on the further folds cause the first fold to be pulled and distorted in your grip. Out of this feedback loop the specific problem of this set of folds emerges. At some point you are able to stabilise the folds in relation to each other, and have a solution.

When you grasp the fact that a new problem has emerged, that the positing of the problem is beyond your control, and that you must evolve in relation to the problem in a way that was previously both unthinkable and impossible, you have intuition in Bergson's sense. Intuition is a reflection on learning, a creative learning.

And that's why Deleuze makes such a big issue out of the role of fabric in baroque art (le Pli, Leibniz and the Baroque), the role of the curtain in the paintings of Bacon (Logic of Sensation), and the relationship between canvas, paint and brush-stroke.

August 29, 2004

Bacon's malerisch, Van Gogh's diagram, and the baroque fold

Follow-up to The artistic diagram and its relation to the statistical diagram from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Preventing the artistic object from becoming a symbol by expressing its emergence from a common materiality. Van Gogh's swirls and hatchings. Bacon's curtain. Bacons turn against the figural is a turn against the figure becoming symbolic, against the nonsense of a logic of sensation that is seperate from its emergence from materiality.

The baroque material, Deleuze, The Fold. The monad. Composibility.