From Possible Worlds to Future Folds Abstracts, Situationist Cities and the Baroque in Art

  • Simon O’Sullivan
Part of the Renewing Philosophy book series


In the previous chapter art was configured as a kind of practical philosophy. Whether it was in the actualisation of the virtual, the generation of planes of immanence or the construction of local BwOs that dismantle the strata that binds us, art named a process of experimentation and ultimately one of transformation. However, if we are to follow Deleuze closely then we must also return to the notion of the possible that we distanced ourselves from in Chapter 4, for as Deleuze remarks throughout his writings, art must also be thought as the expression of possible worlds. In fact this notion was present in Chapter 2. Art, as a bloc of sensations, expresses a particular and different world-view (and not necessarily that of its artist). In this final chapter I want to think through the notion of possible worlds as developed in Deleuze’s book on Proust and, more significantly, his book on Leibniz. I also look briefly at an essay by Jean-Francois Lyotard on contemporary art that in many respects parallels Deleuze’s own thoughts.


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  1. 1.
    See the exhibition catalogue Gerhard Richter (1991a) (London: Tate Gallery) for a selection of these Abstracts. As with the previous chapter there is a coincidence of dates between the art and the philosophy (the original French publication of The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (1993a) (Trans. T. Conley) (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press) was 1988).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Perhaps the most ‘Deleuzian’ attitude to take towards Richter would be to look at his whole body of work in much the same way as Deleuze looks at Bacon’s oeuvre and to extract concepts from this examination. This is a task that requires a book in itself, and is one that I leave for another time.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The work of art can, in this sense, be understood as the ‘voice’ of the Other. See for example Deleuze’s essay, ‘The Exhausted’, Essays Critical and Clinical, (1998) (Trans. D.W. Smith and M.A. Greco) (London: Verso), pp. 152–74, for a discussion of Beckett in relation to the idea that ‘Others are possible worlds’ (ECC 157). See also the end of my Chapter 4 for a discussion of what happens in a world without others (which is to say, a world without possible worlds) albeit discussed through the possible world of Michel Tournier’s novel Friday.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    It is in this sense that all painting can be understood as landscape painting. In fact all art might be said to produce landscapes in that every art work expresses its own particular possible world.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    And not just artistic subjectivities but subjectivity in general, the latter understood as the product of a distinct world-view expressed through a particular style of life.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    In Bergson’s terms these two floors are precisely matter and memory, or the actual and the virtual. We might compare Deleuze-Leibniz’s statement: ‘On its own account each monad conveys the entire world independently of others and without influx, while every body receives the impression and influx of others, and that is the totality of bodies; that is the material universe that expresses the world’ (F 106), with Bergson’s differentiation between an image and a represented image:Google Scholar
  7. Now, here is the image which I call a material object; I have the representation of it. How then does it not appear to be in itself that which it is for me? It is because, being bound up with all other images, it is continued in those which follow it, just as it prolonged those which preceded it. To transform its existence into representation, it would be enough to suppress what follows it, what precedes it, and also that which fills it, and to retain only its external crust, its superficial skin. That which distinguishes it as a present image, as an objective reality, from a image is the necessity which obliges it to act through every one of its points upon all the points of all other images, to transport the whole of what it receives, to oppose every action an equal and contrary reaction, to be, in short, merely a road by which pass, in every direction, the modifications propagated throughout the immensity of the universe. I should convert it into representation if I could isolate it, especially if I could isolate its shell. (MM 35–36)Google Scholar
  8. For Bergson an image/object exists in virtual connection with every other image/object, however for myself, a ‘centre of indétermination’, parts of this virtuality are effaced so as to allow the actual image, my particular world in Leibniz’s terms, to emerge.Google Scholar
  9. 7.
    As Bergson remarks: ‘The objects which surround my body reflect its possible action upon them’ (MM 21).Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    Andrew Murphie has written well on this notion of a ‘clear zone’ specifically in relation to new technologies. See his ‘Putting the Virtual back into VR’, in A Shock to Thought: Expression after Deleuze and Guattari (2002) (Ed. B. Massumi) (London: Routledge), pp. 188–214. To lift just one moment from the essay, Murphie points out that missile guidance systems express their own particular world in their extraction of only certain data from the world. This amounts to saying that their particular ‘zone of clarity’ allows them, as Murphie remarks, to operate more effectively and more destructively (2002, 189–90). 9. For a discussion of the tick’s world in relation to this ethology (and to Von Uexküll) see ATP 257.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Deleuze quotes Leibniz: ‘our body is a type of world full of an infinity of creatures that are also worthy of life’ (F 109). Our bodies contain other monads, the monads of our organs, that contain still other monads, ad infinitum. It is the viniculum, a kind of sticky screen, which holds, or coheres, this stuff together. Deleuze also remarks on that third type of monad not ‘caught’ within the relations of dominated and dominata. These are inorganic bodies that are folded within matter much like felt (F 115). Deleuze also characterises these as ‘defective’ monads that ‘await on the outside’, but they can also be understood as tendencies, containing as they do their own ‘inner law’ or ‘force’ (F 116–17).Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    As Deleuze remarks: ‘If the Baroque has been associated with capitalism, it is because the Baroque is linked to a crisis in property, a crisis that appears at once with the growth of new machines in the social field and the discovery of new living beings in the organism’ (F 110).Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Along what Deleuze-Leibniz calls the ‘fluxion’, or simply the ‘line of flight’ (FUS).Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    For Deleuze’s most thorough account of this folding of subjectivity see his book on Foucault (1988b) (Trans. S. Hand) (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), and especially pp. 94–103. Deleuze reads Foucault’s later works as specifically attending to the fold of modern subjectivity (which had begun with the Greeks). We are given an illustration of this with the notion of the ship understood as nothing more than a folding of/in the sea (the inside as constituted by the folding of the outside). See also my discussion of the appendix of the Foucault book below.Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    For Bergson’s major statement on this see chapter 3 ‘On the Survival of Images’ in MM 28–32.Google Scholar
  16. 15.
    There are many slippages in Deleuze’s use of the terms virtual and potential. In The Fold the first two often appear synonymous, nevertheless I am inclined to follow Brian Massumi’s definition of potential as the ‘transition state between the virtual and the actual, logically distinct from both’ (See Massumi’s ‘Introduction: Like a Thought’, in his edited collection A Shock to Thought: Expression After Deleuze and Guattari (2002b) (London: Routledge), pp. xiii–xxxix, especially p. xxxvi).Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    Monads, on the upper floor, are entirely enclosed and non-communicating, however it might be said that on the lower floor they are always and everywhere in a kind of communication, the latter understood as the interpénétration and interconnection of all things in the world.Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    To confuse art with that which it produces can be to substitute philosophy or politics for art. In such an operation art’s specific character, its specific force, is overlooked. We might say that which is ontologically prior, as cause, is taken as effect. A consequence of this is that art history can often attend to everything but the actual workings of art (that is, to the discursive and institutional context and implications of the art object). The event is missed in an exhaustive survey of the scene and effects of the event. In connection to this is the operation of deconstruction. Here the event, or simply the production of new forms, can never be genuinely ‘new’ but must ‘appear’ in recognisable form. Hence for Derrida the impossibility of improvisation, but the importance of still attempting this impossibility. This is a track many writers on Richter have followed: the paintings as a presentation of the unpresentable, as impossible possibles and so on. See note 24 below.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    We might note here the connections between art, as an event, and other events (for example more explicity ‘political’ acts) that might likewise have an aesthetic character, which is to say rupture our world.Google Scholar
  20. 19.
    To quote Deleuze, writing on Proust: ‘friendship never establishes anything but false communication, based on misunderstandings, and frames only false windows. This is why love, more lucid, makes it a principle to renounce all communication’ (P 42).Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    Lyotard opposes this view to the one he attributes — through Vincent Descombe — to Leibniz (‘It should not be said that each of these experiments is merely a subjective perspective on Being that is its single totality or its single kingdom, and that Leibniz after all expressed the truth of perspec-tivism in metaphysical discourse’ (LYO 190)). As we have seen Deleuze’s reading of Leibniz orientates itself against such a reading and in fact brings Leibniz much closer to Lyotard.Google Scholar
  22. 21.
    Deleuze and Guattari explicitly attend to this towards the end of the chapter on art in What is Philosophy?:Google Scholar
  23. Are there not as many different planes as universes, authors, or even works? In fact, universes, from one art to another as much as in one and the same art, may derive from one another, or enter into relations of capture and form constellations of universes, independently of any derivation, but also scattering themselves into nebulae of different stellar systems, in accordance with qualitative distances that are no longer those of space and time. (WP 196)Google Scholar
  24. Deleuze and Guattari end this paragraph on multiplicity with a comment on its relationship to the One: ‘Universes are linked together or separated on their lines of flight, so that the plane may be single at the same time as universes are irreducibly multiple’ (WP 196).Google Scholar
  25. 22.
    A number of other commentators follow this particular line of Badiou’s. Peter Hallward for example, whose book, Absolutely Postcolonial: Writing Between the Singular and the Specific (2001) (Manchester: Manchester University Press), brings Deleuze’s philosophy (and that of Spinoza and Leibniz) together with Islamic, Buddhist and avant-garde literature in mapping out a philosophy of the singular over the specific. In such a ‘system’, as Hallward remarks, ‘modes exist as so many extended or explicated degrees of a purely implicated divine intensity’ (2001, 8).Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    The famous parable from Buddhism seems apposite here: man’s suffering in the world is like an arrow stuck in his side. The question of where the arrow came from is less important, indeed is in some senses irrelevant, compared with the question of how to remove it. We might also take note of the last few lines of Deleuze’s study of Hume: ‘Philosophy must constitute itself as the theory of what we are doing, not as a theory of what there is. What we do has its principles; and being can only be grasped as the object of a synthetic relation with the very principles of what we do’ (H 133).Google Scholar
  27. 24.
    Stefan Germer, for example, in his ‘Retrospective Ahead’, Gerhard Richter (1991) (London: Tate Gallery), pp. 31–9, gives an account of Richter’s practice as caught in a kind of deferred longing. This is also the case, for Germer, with individual pictures. For example, Germer reads Richter’s Photo Paintings as an instance of Derrida’s différance: ‘The trace left by Richter’s intervention in the appearance of a pictorial given can be defined using the term “différance” as coined by Jacques Derrida: it deviates from an already existing meaning, whilst at the same time deferring the positing of a new meaning’ (Germer 1991, 26). Germer continues:Google Scholar
  28. The unfocussed and blurred zones in the Photo Paintings thus function strategically, annulling a given content without formulating one with which to replace it. We are constantly confronted with pictures that, awkwardly enough, can only be described in negative terms: they are neither photographs nor paintings, although possessing some of the characteristics of both. The blurred zones of the Photo Paintings direct a ‘stop making sense’ at the viewer, who — thwarted by the lack of authorial prescription of meaning attempts to resolve the contradictions, in order to arrive at an unequivocal interpretation. This effort is doomed to failure, as Richter’s pictures do not permit resolution of this dilemma in favour of either the signifier or the signified. Content is only arrived at by means of a negation of form, form only as a negation of content: which means that the whole project of representation is called into question. (1991, 26)Google Scholar
  29. A similar reading is given to Richter’s Townscapes, Colour Charts and Grey Paintings, all of which in their own way are involved in this melancholy logic of différance. Germer eventually arrives at the Abstracts, which again are ‘read’ as profoundly allegorical: ‘For the Abstract paintings are defined by the difference between experience and its representation; in other words they are allegorical in nature’ (Germer 1991, 31). Germer goes on:Google Scholar
  30. Richter’s paintings can be understood as a form of communication that is cancelled in the very act, even though the painter’s desire to communicate with his viewers via the painting persists. The melancholy character of such a production stems from a simultaneous awareness of the necessity of utopia Richter has called painting ‘the highest form of hope’ — and recognition of its inaccessibility. (1991, 31)Google Scholar
  31. Other commentators have also positioned Richter’s sensibility in this melancholy double bind, for example as a ‘product of an endlessly idealistic, endlessly disillusioned Germany’ (Ascherson 1991, 38). To a certain extent my own chapter on Richter’s Abstracts is written to rescue them from this melancholy and deconstructive science (and this might well involve reading them contra Richter himself).Google Scholar
  32. 25.
    As we shall see Deleuze does in fact attend to a notion of allegory in The Fold specifically as it is mapped out in Walter Benjamin’s writings. It is not within the scope of this book to compare Deleuze’s ‘allegorical impulse’ with those above, though what can be said is that Deleuze is interested in allegory inasmuch as it foregrounds the idea of distinct points of view on the world, rather than the more usual (and I think negative) utilisation of allegory, developed especially from Paul de Man, as that which defers presence and foregrounds a notion of representation, albeit one in crisis.Google Scholar
  33. 26.
    Thanks to Robert Garnett for first suggesting this alternative take on Richter’s Abstracts.Google Scholar
  34. 27.
    For a typical deconstruction of typical theories of artistic expression see Hal Foster’s essay on ‘The Expressive Fallacy’, in Recordings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics (1985) (Seattle: Bay Press), pp. 59–77.Google Scholar
  35. 28.
    Deleuze himself suggests the possibility of understanding abstract painting as a monad in which there is no longer a window to an outside but rather ‘an opaque grid of information on which the ciphered line is written’ (F 27).Google Scholar
  36. 29.
    Of course, with new, and faster, technology these worlds are increasingly being realised. The fractal worlds of the Mandelbrot set would be a case in point.Google Scholar
  37. 30.
    In the terms put forward in A Thousand Plateaus, we move from milieus to territories:Google Scholar
  38. [A territory] is by essence marked by ‘indexes’, which may be components taken from any of the milieus: materials, organic products, skin or membrane states, energy sources, action-perception condensates. There is a territory precisely when milieu components cease to be directional, becoming dimensional instead, when they cease to be functional to become expressive. (ATP 314–15)Google Scholar
  39. 31.
    ‘And this, first of all, is what makes painting abstract: summoning forces, populating the area of plain, uniform colour with the forces it bears, making the invisible forces visible in themselves’ (WP 181).Google Scholar
  40. 32.
    It is Harold Rosenberg who most clearly identified this move from painting a picture to painting as event. Here he is from ‘The American Action Painters’:Google Scholar
  41. At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act rather than a space in which to reproduce, redesign, analyse or ‘express’ an object, actual or imagined. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event. (1970, 36)Google Scholar
  42. We might say that Richter, as a contemporary painter, is an inheritor of this tradition, although his paintings are events and pictures at the same time.Google Scholar
  43. 33.
    And in fact all the subsequent Abstracts require a yes/no decision in terms of deciding when they are ‘finished’.Google Scholar
  44. 34.
    In the sense that every form of life is made up from a different combination of the same four elements (i.e. DNA).Google Scholar
  45. 35.
    And it is also the case that any one Abstract might express more than one world. As Sean Rainbird remarks:Google Scholar
  46. [Richter’s] book 128 Details from a Picture, made in 1978, provides further evidence of [Richter’s] examining the efficacy and potential of painting as a vehicle of reality. A single abstract painting was photographed by the artist 128 times from different angles, suggesting in didactic fashion the infinite perceptual possibilities — and myriad realities — arising from each abstract painting that contains not a mimetic representation of reality, but rather an equivalent and equally convincing pictorial reality. (1991, 13)Google Scholar
  47. We might note also Richter’s Mirror Paintings, in which a new ‘world’ is pictured with each encounter (those in the Guggenheim in Bilbao for example which reflect not only the spectator but, through the extensive top windows, the different atmospheric conditions). Although this is an extreme example we might say that all of Richter’s paintings (and perhaps all art?) involves this interaction with ‘outside’ conditions and thus makes every encounter singular.Google Scholar
  48. 36.
    Again, as Sean Rainbird remarks:Google Scholar
  49. Richter also chooses a carefully circumscribed although intrinsically flexible range of paint applications. Initially this involved using dry or wet brushes of different widths and stiffness. Latterly he has also used long spatulas with straight though flexible edges to distribute paint in sweeping movements of the arm and upper body. (1991, 20)Google Scholar
  50. Rainbird continues with a musical analogy: ‘If canvas, brushes and spatulas might find a parallel with the score and system of notation in music, then colour is what determines the quality of what in music would be touch, timbre, tone and register’ (1991, 20).Google Scholar
  51. 37.
    Every painter has his or her particular technique of ‘applying paint to canvas’ in this sense. We might note here Jackson Pollock’s ‘drip’ technique, Helen Frankenthaler’s ‘staining’ or, more recently, the grouting of a layered surface achieved by power tools in the ‘paintings’ of DJ Simpson (for a selection of the latter’s work see Riese, New Abstract Painting Painting Abstract Now (2003) (Leverkusen: Museum Morsbroich).Google Scholar
  52. 38.
    Modern art is that which specifically tends towards this second type of painting (Deleuze and Guattari mention Seurat, Mondrian, and Dubuffet) (WP194). It is in this sense that Richter might be understood as a specifically modern painter. As Deleuze and Guattari remark, literature and music also oscillate between their own two poles, which is to say their history is also a history of the relationship between the technical and aesthetic planes of composition (WP 195).Google Scholar
  53. 39.
    A published list of all Richter’s works since 1962.Google Scholar
  54. 40.
    Andrew Benjamin attends to these two types of repetition in his collection of essays Object Painting (1994) (London: Academy Editions). To simplify somewhat, representation, for Benjamin, is the repetition of the simple and of a content that is always already predetermined. This is opposed to a repetition ‘in terms of an ontology and temporality of becoming’ (Benjamin 1994, 24). As Benjamin remarks: ‘Becoming is the ontology proper to the art object since it is only in terms of becoming that it is possible for the work to work’ (1994, 24). Benjamin’s subsequent essays are concerned with precisely what this ‘work’ might entail as regards different objects. Importantly, Benjamin calls attention to the way in which this second type of repetition ‘overcomes the work of the negative’ by allowing for a present in which the repetition of the same gives way to other possibilities’ (Benjamin 1994, 11).Google Scholar
  55. 41.
    We might say that the modern city is also involved in this repetition, which is to say the various modernities the world over (Asia’s modernity, Africa’s modernity, etc.) are not representations of an originary European modernity but repetitions of the modern.Google Scholar
  56. 42.
    In connection to this, and in the field of contemporary art, we might note Jeremy Deller’s The Battle of Orgreave, a restaging of the British miner’s original ‘battle’ with the police in 1984, and which ended up as not just a representation of the original Strike battle, but in fact as a kind of repetition of that event.Google Scholar
  57. 43.
    As demonstrated by Richter’s decision to destroy all works before 1962 and to number subsequent works from this ‘beginning’.Google Scholar
  58. 44.
    The paintings might however be thought of as ‘rhythmic characters’ as Deleuze calls them in his book on Francis Bacon:Google Scholar
  59. Rhythm would cease to be attached to and dependent on a Figure: it is rhythm itself that would become the figure, that would constitute the Figure. This is exactly what Oliver Messiaen said about music when he distinguished between active rhythm, passive rhythm, and attendant rhythm, and demonstrated that they no longer referred to characters that have rhythm, but themselves constitute rhythmic characters. (B 71–2)Google Scholar
  60. 45.
    To quote Richter:Google Scholar
  61. Accept that I can plan nothing. Any consideration that I make about the ‘construction’ of a picture is false and if the execution is successful then it is only because I partially destroy it or because it works anyway, because it is not disturbing and looks as though it is not planned. Accepting this is often intolerable and also impossible, because as a thinking, planning human being it humiliates me to find that I am powerless to that extent, making me doubt my competence and any constructive ability. The only consolation is that I can tell myself that despite all this I made the pictures even when they take the law into their own hands, do what they like with me although I don’t want them to, and simply come into being somehow. (RIC 123)Google Scholar
  62. Richter is addressing the complex relation between intention and non-intention here. We might productively compare this with Deleuze-Leibniz’s difficult notion of causality. For the latter causality is a fiction inasmuch as the two floors, of matter and of the soul, are distinct. However ‘ideal causes’ do operate as when we attribute something occurring within the soul (e.g. pain) a physical cause, or something happening ‘in the world’ (e.g. voluntary movement) a immaterial cause. It is this ‘ideal cause’ that operates as the fold between the two regimes, or two floors, of the Baroque house. Thus, the ‘consolation’ for Richter that he made the paintings, even though he did not intend or necessarily control their particular character.Google Scholar
  63. 46.
    As Richter remarks: ‘My method or my expectation which, so to speak, drives me to painting, is opposition …Just that something will emerge that is unknown to me, which I could not plan, which is better, cleverer, than I am’ (1992, 1042). The same is true for Deleuze’s Bacon who explicitly paints against cliché understood as figuration and narrative (and specifically as incarnated in the photograph) (see FB 87–92, and my Chapter 2).Google Scholar
  64. 47.
    The found photograph works to evacuate Richter’s subjectivity. At the same time Richter requires the photograph as a ground or starting point from which to make the painting. Hence the importance of Richter’s archive of images (as seen in the exhibition/catalogue Gerhard Richter: Atlas (2003) (London: Whitechapel)).Google Scholar
  65. 48.
    It is in this sense that Kant’s aesthetic, and especially the notion of a ‘disinterested’ response to art, continues to be important in thinking about the rupturing and transformative force of contemporary art.Google Scholar
  66. 49.
    For example, the ‘Happening’ as outlined by Allan Kaprow in his 1960 essay ‘Assemblages, Environments and Happenings’, reprinted in Art in Theory 1900–1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (1992) (Ed. C. Harrison and P. Wood) (Oxford: Blackwell), pp. 703–9. To quote KaprowGoogle Scholar
  67. A critical turning point has been reached in a major area of avant-garde effort, which I believe is entirely to the good but which is forcing upon us the possibly disagreeable task of revising some cherished assumptions regarding the nature of the plastic arts. Certain advanced works being done at this moment are rapidly losing their traditional identities and something else, quite far-reaching in its implications is taking their place. (1991, 703)Google Scholar
  68. For Kaprow this new kind of art involves breaking with those ‘conditions set down by the structure of the house’, and the concomitant development of an expanded notion of art (Kaprow 1991, 704). Kaprow gives a series of rubrics for this kind of art, all of which are relevant to Deleuze’s definition of performance. They are:Google Scholar
  69. A The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible … B Therefore, the source of themes, materials, actions, and the relationships between them are to be derived from anyplace or period except from the arts, their derivatives, and their milieu … C The performance of a Happening should take place over several widely spaced, sometimes moving and changing locales … D Time, which follows closely on space considerations, should be variable and discontinuous … E Happenings should be performed once only … F It follows that audiences should be eliminated entirely. (Kaprow 1991,706–8)Google Scholar
  70. See also Carolee Schneeman’s ‘from The Notebooks’, in More than Meat Joy: Performance Works and Selected Writings, (1997) (Ed. B. R. McPherson) (Kingston: McPherson and Co), pp. 9–19, where performance (or a performance work)is defined as: ‘an extension of the formal-metaphorical activity possible within a painting or construction’, and thus one in which the audience is offered different ‘potentialities for sensate involvement’ (Schneeman 1979, 9).Google Scholar
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    In interview Deleuze develops this line of argument further:Google Scholar
  72. The minimalist art of Tony Smith presents us with the following situation: a car speeding along a dark motorway lit only by the car’s headlamps, with the tarmac hurtling by in the windscreen. It’s a modern version of the monad, with the windscreen playing the part of a small illuminated area … The move towards replacing the system of a window and a world outside with one of a computer screen in a closed room is something that’s taking place in our social life: we read the world more than we see it. (N 157–8)Google Scholar
  73. We might add, and as I argue later in this chapter, that with the World Wide Web we are witnessing the opening up of this closed monad into an expanded Baroque, or nomadology.Google Scholar
  74. 51.
    Guy Debord gives us a similar definition of ‘unitary urbanism’ as that which:Google Scholar
  75. is defined first of all by the use of the ensemble of arts and technics as means contributing to an integral composition of the milieu. This ensemble must be envisaged as infinitely more far-reaching than the old domination of architecture over the traditional arts … Unitary urbanism must, for example, dominate the acoustic environment as well as the distribution of different varieties of food and drink. It must include the creation of new forms and the détournement of previous forms of architecture, urbanism, poetry and cinema … The most elementary unit of unitary urbanism is not the house, but the architectural complex. (Debord 1989, 26)Google Scholar
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    It is in this sense that the Situationists are very much the inheritors of a Surrealist attitude. To quote from the English Section of the former:Google Scholar
  77. [The Surrealists] saw quite rightly, that the most vital role a revolutionary avant-garde could play was to create a coherent group experimenting with a new life-style, drawing on new techniques, which were simultaneously self-expressive and socially disruptive, of extending the perimeters of lived experience. Art was a series of free experiments in the construction of a new libertarian order. (Clarke et al. 1994,6)Google Scholar
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    Guattari makes a similar call for ‘a new urban planning’ in his essay ‘Space and Corporeality: Nomads, Cities, Drawings’, in Semiotext(e)/’Architecture (1992) (Trans. H. Zeitland and H. Zeitland) (Ed. H. Zeitland) (New York: Semiotext(e)), pp. 18G1–25G8, although for Guattari this is a project that can, and must, begin in the present: ‘In fact, the means to change life and to create a new style of activity, new social values are within our reach. Only the desire and the public will to carry out such transformations is lacking’ (SC 120G3).Google Scholar
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    In fact we might say more accurately that Walter Benjamin’s flâneur is often moving towards an open monad (for example, in the use of hashish). Benjamin’s Charles Baudelaire too has moments of interconnectivity. Here is Benjamin quoting the latter, in relation to new technologies:Google Scholar
  80. Moving through this traffic involves the individual in a series of shocks and collisions. At dangerous crossings, nervous impulses flow through him in rapid succession, like the energy from a battery. Baudelaire speaks of a man who plunges into the crowd as into a reservoir of electric energy. Circumscribing the experience of shock, he calls this man ‘a kaleidoscope equipped with consciousness.’ (1974, 133)Google Scholar
  81. Indeed Baudelaire/Benjamin’s flâneur is more involved in a joyous affirmation of the city than in the distance and revulsion characterised by Friedrich Engels (and to a lesser extent Edgar Allan Poe), although in each of these writers the encounter is still privileged. We might say in fact that Flâneurie here is the art of encountering different worlds.Google Scholar
  82. 55.
    Although we must also note that the city can produce alienated subjectivities, or ‘closed in’ monads. Hence the ‘blasé’ attitude of the city dweller that Georg Simmel refers to, and which we can still see in today’s cities:Google Scholar
  83. The blasé attitude results first from the rapidly changing and closely compressed contrasting stimulation of the nerves … A life in boundless pursuit of pleasure makes one blasé because it agitates the nerves to their strongest reactivity for such a long time that they finally cease to react at all… This psychological source of metropolitan blasé attitude is joined by another source which flows from the money economy. The essence of the blasé attitude consists in the blunting of discrimination. (Simmel 1992,132)Google Scholar
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    In A Thousand Plateaus the city, however striated, is likewise characterised as a site of deterritorialisation:Google Scholar
  85. Must we not say the same of the city itself? In contrast to the sea, the city is the striated space par excellence; the sea is a smooth space fundamentally open to striation, and the city is the force of striation that reinparts smooth space, puts it back into operation everywhere, on earth and in other elements, outside, but also inside itself. The smooth spaces arising from the city are not only those of world-wide organisation, but also of counterattack combining the smooth and the holey and turning back against the town: sprawling, temporary, shifting shanty towns of nomads and cave dwellers, scrap metal and fabric, patchwork, to which the striations of money, work, or housing are no longer even relevant. (ATP 481)Google Scholar
  86. In What is Philosophy? a notion of the city is developed further and is characterised as the very precondition of philosophy, understood as a form of creative deterritorialisation: ‘It is in this first aspect that philosophy seems to be something Greek and coincides with the contribution of cities: the formation of societies of friends or equals but also the promotion of relationships of rivalry between and within them …’ (WP 4). For Deleuze and Guattari the city, in both books, involves the production of a territory on the deterritorialised earth, which then operates as a site for new relative deterrito-rialisations (hence capitalism) and absolute deterritorialisations (hence philosophy) (see especially the section on ‘Geophilosophy’ in WP 85–113).Google Scholar
  87. 57.
    Constant’s ‘New Babylon’ project is a realisation, of sorts, of Chtcheglov’s formulations, or, returning to Deleuze-Leibniz, it is certainly an actualisation of a set of virtualities and a realisation at least on one level, although it remains unrealised on another. Here is Peter Wollen writing on this project:Google Scholar
  88. Constant called for a playful rather than a functional urbanism, a projection into the imaginary futures of the discoveries made by the Lettrist method of , drifting journeys through actually existing cities to experience rapid, aimless changes of environment (¿ambience’)and consequent changes of psychological state. Constant had been inspired by Pinot Gallizio, who had become the political representative of the gypsies who visited Alba, to build a model for a nomadic encampment. From this he developed to building architectural models of a visionary city (‘New Babylon’), as well as making blueprints, plans and elevations, moving out of painting altogether. (1989, 15–16)Google Scholar
  89. Another realisation of sorts of Chtcheglov’s ‘Unitary Urbanism’ was the work of the Archigram group, especially in their ‘Utopian’ projects such as ‘Walking City’, which might be seen to follow from Chtcheglov’s definition of mobile architecture (‘The mobile house turns with the sun. It’s sliding walls enable vegetation to invade life. Mounted on tracks, it can go down to the sea in the morning and return to the forest in the evening’ (Chtcheglov 1989, 24)). As Archigram remark: ‘If “Walking City” is the heroic statement of mobilised architecture it represents but the most magnificent audacity of a series of Archigram projects that constantly revolve around flexing, moving, transferring’ (Herrón 1998, 118).Google Scholar
  90. 58.
    Deleuze makes this argument specifically in relation to music, and the ‘move’ to a post-war serialism (for example with Boulez). We might say that John Cage operates as the bridge here between an explicitly musical definition of Deleuze’s ‘new harmony’ and one that names the expanded field of ‘performance art’, and indeed the avant-garde practices of the 1960s in general.Google Scholar
  91. 59.
    This is the coming of the ‘New Barbarians’ predicted by Hardt and Negri (£ 213–18), and perhaps most explicitly mapped out in Donna Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto’: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century’, in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (1991) (London: Routledge), pp. 149–65. It is important to point out that technological development in itself does not provide for dissonant, radical or emancipatory subjectivities. Indeed, one need only track the military development of cyborg and AI technologies (see, for example, Delanda’s War in the Age of Intelligent Machines (1991) (New York: Zone Books)). In the terms of this chapter we might say that attention needs to be turned to what kind of monads or subjectivities (fascist? communist? revolutionary?) produce, and are produced by, these technologies. This is the important business of Guattari’s work on the production of subjectivity (see Chapter 3).Google Scholar
  92. 60.
    The obvious example of contemporary times being the practice of Jake and Dinos Chapman. See, for example, the work in Chapman and Chapman, Hell (2003) (London: Jonathan Cape, Saatchi Gallery).Google Scholar
  93. 61.
    Stelarc’s performances of the 1970s might be seen as an exploration of the body’s limits (i.e. pain); experiments to discover what a body is capable of. As such, they can be read through the optic of Spinoza as precisely ethological/ethical experiments. With his more recent work, with communication technologies and robotic prosthesis, we might see a more explicitly Leibnizian theorisation of the body (relationships between the dominata and dominated) and of how the body moves from being an autonomous closed monad to being something more open (a move, according to Stelarc, which amounts to switching from a psychoanalytic account of subjectivity to a cybernetic one):Google Scholar
  94. Imagine the consequences and advantages of being a split body with voltage-in, inducing the behaviour of a remote agent and voltage-out, for your body to control peripheral devices. This would be a more complex and interesting body — not simply a single entity with one agency but one that would be a host for a multiplicity of remote and alien agents of different physiologies and in varying locations. (Stelarc 1997, 66)Google Scholar
  95. It is, of course, via the World Wide Web that this expanded body is produced. Indeed we might say that the World Wide Web is a model of the ‘New Baroque’ involving as it does a new kind of resonance between the two levels of the monad — precisely an opening out of the closed house. It is here that we return to the subject matter of Chapter 1: the ‘New Baroque’ in art is art understood rhizomatically, specifically in the foregrounding of multiplicity and interconnectivity.Google Scholar
  96. 62.
    And the question of whether a subject can access this ground (that a folding can simultaneously experience the unfolded) is perhaps the religious question of our time.Google Scholar

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© Simon O’Sullivan 2006

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