Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dear all,
My name is Natasha Prévost. I finished me Ph.D. in Women's Studies at Utrecht University at the end of November 2006. I came back to Montreal after six years last October 2007. I've been involved with the SenseLab and the GRIPAL (Groupe de Rechercher sur l'Imaginaire Politique en Amérique Latine) since I'm back. I'm moving to Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada as I got a job at the Centre de Recherche et Développement en Éducation where I will be a qualitative researcher. I took the job not only because I'm moving on the Atlantic coast but also because this Research centre receives research calls from outside. Sometimes it's the Government, but also the community and in fact more and more the community. I was train in Anthropology both at under and graduate levels. I conducted fieldwork research in Mexico, Brazil, Italy and The Netherlands. I first work with transvestites in Mexico and Brazil. Deleuze and his concept of nomadism comes into play here. I applied gender nomadism and identity deterritorialization as a theoretical framework to analyse the life stories of my transvestites colleagues. I also filmed a documentary taking place in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza about transvestite's life and body transformation. I then turn to Brazilian children between seven and twelve years old from poor, middle and rich socio-economical classes. We worked in their primary schools or cultural and literacy centre for a year. We talked about what was important for them. For each theme the children drew, told me a story and I filmed. These data were collected and edited as a DVD of five minutes of images, sounds and drawings per children. It ended up being the way for the children participating of this project to be aware of the existence of the others. For this project I had at heart the relational process between the researcher and the research colleagues. I thus dig into the concepts of Affect, Empiricism, Intuition, Movement, Difference, Sympathy, Experiment and Difference in order to better describe this experience and how to deconstruct power relations inherent to ethnographic fieldwork research. Right now I hope to start the prototype of a project I would like to build in Brazil, while living in Moncton which is an ecological school. This project is at an embryonic stage now but I'll keep you posted when it actually happens. Guattari will be of great inspiration for this project. I'm looking forward to meet you all!!! Alessandra, sorry if I did not react to your e-mail but I was between job interviews and NYC. Let me know when you are in town!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Moving Me

(The kernel of time, Woman in Line, Sigh dreams, The memory of the Body and Hidding Day)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Formatting Issue Resolved

Hi all,
There was a switch toggled incorrectly in the blog settings which was causing formatting problems on some postings (most egregiously on Ana Mira's post). The issue has been fixed, so everyone's postings should look a lot nicer and be more legible.
Enjoying the warm spring weather in Montreal! Felix

Friday, April 25, 2008

Deleuze's Concept of "Diagram"

Hello everyone, I'm posting a brief "mapping" on the concept of "diagram"

(Gilles Deleuze)
(Francis Bacon’s “graph” or diagram p.82)

…the marks are made, and you survey the thing like you would a sort of graph (diagramme). And you see within this graph the possibilities of all types of fact being planted
(Bacon in Deleuze, 2003, p.160)

Definition (s) /List of concepts

1. The diagram in Bacon
– preparatory work that belongs to painting fully, and yet precedes the act of painting p.81
– done in sketches or invisible and silent, yet extremely intense p.81
– make random marks (line-traits); scrub, sweep, or wipe the canvas in order to clear out locales or zones (color-patches); throw the paint, from various angles and at various speeds p.81
– presupposes that there were already figurative givens on the canvas (and in the painter’s head), more or less virtual, more or less actual p.81

– it is precisely these givens that will be removed by the act of painting, either by being wiped, brushed, or rubbed, or else covered over p.81

– ex.1) a mouth elongated, stretched…p.81 ex. 2) the head, part of it cleared away with a brush…p.82
a zone of the Sahara inserted into the head or a piece of a rhinoceros skin, viewed under a microscope, stretched over it p.82
And in a way you would love to be able in a portrait to make a Sahara of the appearance – to make it so like, yet seeming to have the distances of the Sahara (Bacon in Deleuze, 2003, p.160)
– the unit of measure were changed (micrometric, cosmic)
units were substituted for the figurative unit
outstretched diagram
in a midst of the figurative and probabilistic givens, a catastrophe overcame the canvas
emergence of another world
– as agent of analogical language
notion of modulation and not similitude, nature of analogical language or the diagram p.95-98 (see also p.146)
the diagram acts not as a code but as a modulator, defining possibilities of fact p.98
– operative set of asignifying and nonrepresentative lines and zones, line-strokes and color-patches p.145
– the term designates a mapping of the elements of chance, a selection and distribution of clichés, and a condition that shapes creative accident p.144
– a Figure emerges from the diagram when the later extends across the whole picture, when it is conferred with a new radiance and power of vibration that cannot be limited to one zone or another p.145
– By the way of the diagram, a compositional strategy, there can be a breakage with representation or figurative resemblance p.146

2. Its manual character
– marks and traits: irrational, involuntary, accidental, free, random, nonrepresentative,
nonillustrative, nonnarrative
they are no longer significant or signifiers; they are a-signifying traits
traits of sensation (Cézanne confused sensation that we bring with us at birth)
manual traits
it is here that the painter works with a rag, stick, brush or sponge; that he throws the paint with his hands p.82

– involuntary (manual) marks p.160: the hand assumed an independence, and began to be guided by other forces, making marks that no longer depend on either our will or our sight p.82

– blind manual marks attest to the intrusion of another world into the visual world of figuration p.82

– they remove the painting from the optical organization that was already reigning over it and rendering figurative in advance p.82

– shake the dependence of the hand and break up the sovereign optical organization ==> catastrophe, chaos p.82
– the turning point of the painting p.82
– two ways in which the painting can fail: visually (figurative givens and optical organization of representation) and manually (spoil the diagram, overload it, rendered inoperative which is another way of remaining in the figurative) p.82
– operative set of asignifying and nonrepresentative lines and zones, line-strokes and color-patches p.83
– destined to give us the Figure, traits and color-patches break with figuration p.83

– traits and color-patches are not sufficient in themselves, they must be utilized
they mark out possibilities of fact, but do not yet constitute a fact (pictorial fact)
they must be reinjected into the visual whole which, through the action of these marks, will cease to be an optical organization
– the manual diagram produces an irruption like scrambled or cleaned zone, which overturns the optical coordinates as well as the tactile connections p.110
– the diagram is never an optical effect, but an unbridled manual power p.111
– it is a frenetic zone in whichthe hand is no longer guided by the eye and is forced upon sight like another will, which appears as chance, accident, automatism, or the involuntary (the optical world, and the tactile-optical world, is swept out, wiped away) p.111

3. Painting and the experience of catastrophe
– chaos and catastrophe (in relation to the figurative givens) / germ of order or rhythm (in relation to the new order of the painting) p.83
it unlocks areas of sensation (Bacon in Deleuze, 2003, p.83).
– ends the preparation work and begins the act of painting p.83
– experience of the chaos-germ, the collapse of visual coordinates (pictorial experience not psychological although it can have an immense influence on the psychic life of the painter)
confrontation with danger (painter)
the chance that the abyss or catastrophe will give way to rhythm p.83
Paul Klee’s chaos, the vanishing grey point and the chance that this gray point will leap over itself and unlock dimensions of sensation p.83
– painters pass through the catastrophe themselves, embrace the chaos, and attempt to emerge from it
painters differ in their manner of embracing this nonfigurative chaos, and in their evaluation of the pictorial order to come, and the relation of this order with this chaos
– being itself a catastrophe, the diagram must not create a catastrophe p.128
– chaos and catastrophe imply the collapse of all the figurative givens

4. Abstract painting, code, and optical space
turns chaos into a simple stream in order to discover the abstract and signifying forms
elaborates a symbolic code on the basis of formal oppositions, instead of a diagram

5. Action Painting, diagram, and manual space
abstract expressionism or art informel
the abyss or chaos is deployed to the maximum, the entire painting is diagrammatic p.86
ex. Pollock’s all over drip paintings p. 160
ex. Action Painting p.86
conversion from the horizon to the ground p.86
imposes the hand on the eye p.87
line without contour p.89
the diagram expresses the entire painting at once, that is, the optical catastrophe and the manual rhythm p.86
domain of the irrational trait and the line without contour p.89

Current evolution of abstract painting:
1) the extension of the diagram to the spatial and temporal whole of painting (displacement of the beforehand and afterward) p.86
2) the abandonment of any visual sovereignty, and even any visual control, over the painting in the process of being executed
3) the elaboration of lines that are more than lines, surfaces that are more than surfaces, volumes that are less than volumes p.87

the painting ceases to be an organism or an isolated organization in order to become a division of its own surface, which must create its own relations with the divisions of the “room” in which it will be hung p.88

(Three paths each of which designate a “modern” function of painting:
– abstraction p.84
– abstract expressionism or art informel p.85-88
– Bacon p.88-90 plus)

6. What Bacon dislikes about this ways
Why Bacon did not become involved with this two preceding paths? p.88:
1) the code is inevitably cerebral and lacks sensation, the essential reality of the fall, that is, the direct action upon the nervous system p.88
the code can easily become a simple symbolic coding of the figurative p.89
(by internalizing tension in the optical form, abstract painting neutralized it p.89)
2) the diagram covers the entire painting, its proliferation creates a veritable mess
sensation is attained, but it remains in a irremediably confused state

7. Frame
– necessity of preventing the diagram from proliferating, the necessity of confining it to certain areas of the painting and certain moments of the act of painting p.89
Save the contour p.89
the diagram must not eat away at the entire painting; it must remain limited in space and time, it must remain operative and controlled p.89
it must remain localized in space and time p.128
it must not cover the entire painting p.128
possibility of fact, not the fact itself p.89
– not all the figurative givens have to disappear; and above all, a new figuration, that of the figure, should emerge from the diagram and make the sensation clear and precise p.89
– emerge from the catastrophe rather than submerging us further p.89
– the precision of the sensation, the clarity of the figure, the rigor of the contour p.89

– power of vibration and nonlocalization

8. Hand
– values of the hand:
digital (maximum subordination of the hand to the eye) p.124
tactile (tactile referents, virtual referents: depth, contour,…) p.124
manual (what is imposed on sight is a space without form and a movement without rest which the eye can barely follow and it dismantles the optical; reversed relationship) p.125
haptic (when sight discovers itself a specific function of touch) p.125

9. The law of the diagram
One starts with a figurative form, a diagram intervenes and scrambles it, and a form of a completely different nature emerges from the diagram, which is called the figure p.125
It is from the diagram – at the center of the painting, at the point of close viewing – that the entire series emerges as a series of accidents “mounting on top of another” p.126

10. The function of the diagram
– the operation of the diagram, its function: to be “suggestive” p.83
– form ==>completely different relations ==> figure p.126
– diagram-accident scrambles the intentional figurative form, it imposes non-formal color-patches and non-figurative traits from where the final whole emerges p.126
– The diagram acted by imposing a zone of objective indiscernibility or indeterminability between two forms, one of which was no longer, and the other, not yet: it destroys the figuration of the first and neutralizes that of the second. And between the two it imposes the figure p.127
– the diagram has introduced or distributed formless forces throughout the painting p.127
– the figurative lines will be scrambled by extending them, by hatching them, that is, by introducing new distances and new relations between them, out of which the non-figurative resemblance will emerge p.127
ex. you suddenly see through the diagram that the mouth could go across the face (Bacon in Deleuze, 2003, p.127)
– the essential about the diagram is that it is made in order for something to emerge from it, and if nothing emerges from it, it fails p.128
– what emerges is the figure gradually (series) or all at once p.128

Related concepts

– Origin of the word traits:
Traits and color patches (transl. French traits and taches)
Two different conceptions of painting: the optical (the visual perception of the line and color by the eye) and the manual (the application of traits and patches of color by the hand). p.160
Traits asignifiants (Latin tractus, the past principle of trahere, to draw). Etymologically, it refers to a graphic line i.e. to the action of drawing a line or set of lines (a stroke, a draft, a “touch” in a picture). Also used do designate a distinguishing quality or characteristic mark, a feature that allows one to identify or recognize a thing.
Deleuze refers to both meanings: it is the marks or strokes on the canvas that introduce traits of animality into the human figure, thereby constituting a “zone of indiscernability” between the human and the animal.
Translation note: trait = stroke when Deleuze is referring to the activity of the artist’s hand on the painting. p.154
How to pass from the possibility of fact (diagram) to the fact itself (pictorial fact)? p.128
several forms may actually be included in one and the same Figure p.128
one movement, and which makes these apparently arbitrary elements coagulate in a single continuous flow p.129
we witness the revelation of the body beneath the organism, which makes organisms and their elements crack or swell, imposes a spasm on them, and puts them into relation with forces p.129
we will capture the fact p.129

Bacon, Francis. 2003. The Logic of Sensation. Transl. and Introd. Daniel W. Smith. Afterword Tom Conley. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

social folds, technological folds, species folds


I'm a bit embarrassed that I hadn't noticed all the activity on the blog, so I'll try to catch up! I'm lotu5 and I live in the San Diego / Tijuana borderlands. I'm so excited about meeting you all and working with you after reading all the fascinating descriptions of your work and practices. I also know and have worked a bit with Alessandra.

I'm presently finishing my master's thesis at the European Graduate School about the role of desire in politics, or more specifically, exploring the Deleuzian productive desire as a basis for a queer biopolitics, looking at how a transgender reconfiguring of desire can shape or inform world-building projects and resistance to control of the body.

I'm also working on my MFA at University of California, San Diego focusing on performance studies and social media. My work to date has focused on collective perfomance projects engaging with social media in various ways, starting with the Boredom Patrol of the Rebel Clown Army and developing a practice of the clown that is very focused on the body, but then taking those collective actions into the online public space of Youtube.

More recently, I've been focused on Sharing is Sexy.org, an open source porn laboratory, exploring the way that open source methodologies can be applied to cultural production and specifically to queer porn production. I'm very excited that there are a few of us who will be in the workshop who've been really working on this question of the erotic, as it pertains to movement and folding of subjectivities, but also specifically developing erotic somatic practice beyond the limits of male and female and in a collective context. I am very interested in the idea of social action as research, in the way that politics, art and science come together in a productive difference that is interdisciplinary practice.

For my thesis project at UCSD, I'm continuing my trajectory of the question of how
technology can facilitate new practices of identity, sexuality and resistance, by using motion capture and immersive technology to bring a bodily presence into Second Life and exploring the integration of the physical and virtual body.

I'll just make a quick note on some of the reading. I found the Spinoza Practical Philosophy essay to be very rich in connections to what I've been thinking about. Clearly, the discussion of affective capacities and intensive thresholds has a lot of resonance for the erotic work I've been doing, as in this quote which speaks to the experimental richness that work has for me, "you do not know before­ hand what a body or a mind can do, in a given encounter, a given arrangement, a given combination," but I also appreciate the shifts in scale that Deleuze makes in this essay, not just thinking about individual bodies, but going on saying "it is no longer a matter of utilizations or captures, but of sociabilities and communities . How do individuals enter into composition with one another in order to form a higher individual, ad infini­tum?". I've been teaching a class on Collective Practice and we discussed Delanda's A New Philosophy of Society just last week, so this method of shifting scales and looking for the links between them stood out to me, as Delanda focuses on it. As well, I've been reading Haraway's When Species Meet, so the discussion of animal bodies also stood out, in terms of the questions she raises about how an encounter with something so other can reconfigure questions of ethics and world-building. "Now we are concerned, not with a relation of point to counter point, nor with the selection of a world, but with a symphony of Nature, the composition of a world that is increasingly wide and intense."

Monday, April 21, 2008

surface encounters

Alessandra and I are members of a collective of emerging visual artists, working with experimental film. We wanted to introduce some of the work we are doing, as well as give context to some pictures posted below. Our collaborations bring technology, art, philosophy and pornography into conversation with one another in a way that cuts a path through the existing segregation, to actively engage with “queer subjectivities” from a non-identity-based, non-gendered perspective. For us this means creating images that exceed or displace the signifying framework of representation in order to open up a space where desire and pleasure become the driving forces of sense-making – for both the producers and the audience. Ultimately, we are interested in an aesthetic practice that does not posit a new discourse of sexuality but rather continuously resists closure by exploring expression, processual sexuality and eroticism.

Our first project (see first two photos) was in response to a call from the Berlin PrOn Film Festival, where participants were given five rules and four days to complete and upload their projects. Our approximate concept for the piece engaged with the notion that cyberspace offers utopian possibilities for alternative (non-hegemonic) spaces to co-exist with Real Life. Cyber69½ (a tribute to Bruce la Bruce’s Super8½) ironically demonstrates the failure of this project, as bodies slip back into normative sexual encounters. Our collaborative work was as much spontaneous as experimental, as set creation, costume design (assembled from second-hand or found materials) and filming was process-based rather than determined from the outset.

Our second project “Pornopticon - Erotic Peepshow, 25¢” was installed at the Erotic Meltdown Festival in Toronto. The piece incorporates three 3D short films (3-5 minutes each) in the style of a peep show, where spectators enter a booth to look through 3D glasses. The booth, designed in the style of the real peep show–including paper towels and other sex-show paraphernalia–– frames the images, breaking their chain of signification and challenging dominant assumptions of what pornography is supposed to be. Our playful engagement with 3D technology gives texture to the relationship between surfaces and the sensorium, distilling, fragmenting and augmenting the erotic image. Here, objects and body parts come to emphasise an eroticisation of the detail (versus coded sexual beings), exploring the aesthetic potential of surfaces––organic and inorganic–– as external and shifting triggers of productive desire.

Our approach to creativity and to sexuality follows the proposition that desire is never simply a single line, but originates from bodies that are already multiple, and thus sexuality can never be fully represented, but at best partly exposed. The exploration of such informs our art practice as a singular affirmation of already existing, albeit unarticulated visions of desires and pleasures that cannot be reduced to gendered identities, sexual orientations, codes, or perversions – to cut-up bodies and organs that are arranged to form a social order. All this is based on the belief that a creative and ethical re-articulation of the roles and meanings of sexual encounters that defies representation and morality can only be based on the actual experience of sharing and coming into contact with others, to keep exploring and experimenting. [See J. Ricco The Logic of the Lure]

from toronto

Hi all, i am entering my second year as a PhD student in political science at York University, majoring in political theory. My (tentative) dissertation explores the role of the imagination within politics, as both constitutive and continuously escaping, the dominant political sphere. i am interested in how the symbolic-imaginary is managed, both within the history of political though (particularly Aristotle and Kant as two pillars of metaphysics and reason) and in contemporary political theory, especially the work of Cornelius Castoriadis. I hope to move from established thought to a conception of bodily processes as forming our conceptions of space and of alterity, and as de-stabling the privileged site of the rational subject. My written work intuitively goes toward a more performative approach to texts, exploring synaethesia and poetics as style, one that also posits the centrality of the body for examining theories about and practices of politics. I look forward to meeting you all in one month! Laura

Pirates from Naples

Hi everyone, greetings from Italy.
I am a PhD student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, currently carrying out my fieldwork in wild, wild Naples.
My research project focuses on Telestreet (www.telestreet.it), an Italian network of pirate television stations and explores ways of turning sociological research into a tool for activism. At the most basic level, this is done by folding traditional ethnography and politically engaged research methods (e.g.: co-research, practice research, as well as creative workshops) to actively explore the linkages between practices of resistance and the social and spatial assemblages within which they can take place. My experiment with Telestreet foregrounds knowledge sharing and collective learning by framing problems and their attendant solutions collectively, in order to untangle the fields of forces that facilitate or hinder the work of the network.
While I take part in the activities of some of the broadcasters, I am also interested in examining how these activities become part of processes of subjectivation for myself and other subjects of practice. More precisely, my ethnography is also a reflection on and an inquiry into how already existing and newly developed practices can not only take us beyond ascribed and static subject positions and coded roles, but can also form a new ethics of relation both spatially and socially. It is my hope that this experiment in collaboration and learning will not only embolden the Telestreet project but will also give rise to new thoughts/practices that provide alternatives to the current ways we imagine or theorise social change.
So far, I am happy to say that, after only four days “in the field”, I already find myself fully immersed in the activities of InsuTv, the Telestreet channel I am working with. Their enthusiasm for their work, as well as for my research project is exhilarating. Yet, the most exciting thing about this all is that InsuTv is only one of the many grassroots political projects developing in Italy at the moment. Despite the tragic state of Italian institutional politics––to say the least––what I have found here is a myriad of little autonomous experiments; the ferment is incredible and very inspiring!
I look forward to meeting you all and discuss all the interesting projects you have introduced. I will also introduce some installation and video work I have been doing together with Laura Kane in the next post.
Only a few days to go…

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

from amsterdam (nl) - joa hug

Dear all! As we are rapidly getting closer to our meeting, i don't want to let pass the chance to drop a line and to briefly introduce myself to you. 
Originally from germany, i am based in amsterdam/the netherlands. I have lived and worked here as freelance dancer/performer, after graduating from the "school for new dance development" in 2002. I am currently following a practice-based master's programme in "artistic research" at the university of amsterdam. My dance practice is grounded in and shaped by the work with "Body Weather Amsterdam", a platform for training and performance research. "Body Weather" is a comprehensive training and performance practice that investigates the intersections of bodies and their environments. Bodies are not conceived as fixed and separate entities, but are - just like the weather - constantly changing through an infinite and complex system of processes occuring in- and outside of these bodies.
Most recently, my theoretical work has been directed towards issues related to the performativity and the epistemology of dance research. This interest is embedded within the larger field of research into the relations between thought, movement and perception. The practical dance training and the performance work that i am busy with is concerned with developing the body's ability to maintain, refine and constantly renegotiate multiple layers of awareness of the body in relation to itself, in relation to other bodies and in relation to the actual situation it is embedded in, both on the level of microperceptions as well as macrostructures. 
One of the main underlying questions i have is: how does the process of embodying kinaesthetic intelligence relate to changes in modes of perception and in modes of thinking?
I am looking forward to meet with you!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

from nyc

Hello all! My name is Biba Bell. I'm a performer, dance-maker and scholar exploring encounters between the body/movement with space/architecture as multifarious processes of dance, presence, and embodiment. I am curious about the generative qualities that occur in the midst of this interaction; how distinct modalities (dance, architecture) may be recognized as plastic, flexible and enduring; how a body might be thought as the mobility of space, or space occupied by and thus contingent upon a dancing body. Tracing various paths of logic housed in a structure (pathway, memory, facility, scale, surface, perception) I consider events wherein respective rationales deviate or shift as dances, or experiences verging on the conversation between body and site. I just returned from an improvisation & performance lab in Marfa TX which has prompted me to consider the Chinati Foundation’s project through sculpture, installation, architecture and landscape as potential proponents whose intersections open up new trajectories and questions when thought along side dance and performance. As both a scholar and artist I work to expand upon the notion of venue to become one of site, spatial sensitivity and the particular architecture of place, consider social, historical, political dimensions of the body and self in space and locate their subsequent intersections with the present creative, artistic endeavor. I make work under the moniker Urisov, a collaborative and multidisciplinary performance endeavor. I'm also involved with an annual dance touring project Modern Garage Movement (MGM) and lead workshops making site-specific dance (dancing Body/Site). I am a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at NYU. (www.urisov.com) (www.bibayoga.org)