petak, 21. lipnja 2013.

Abstract Geology (blog)

Jak blog o svježim filozofijskim temama.

The aim of my research project is to open a strain of enquiry between post-continental philosophy and contemporary abstract painting aesthetics as a form of speculation on the assemblage of immanence, complexity and emergence. Informed by Manuel DeLanda’s ‘neo-materialism’, Jane Bennett’s ‘vital materialism’ and Levis Bryant’s ‘object oriented materialism’, set within a framework of the ‘geo-philosophy’ of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. When painting becomes animated by the immanent complexity of its own matter-energy, when painting is conceived of as a ‘diagram’ or ‘abstract machine’, the ‘thingness’ of its materiality presents us with unique objects and processes that affirm aesthetics as an integral source for philosophising matter.
‘The earths surface and the figments of the mind have a way of disintegrating into discrete regions of art. Various agents, both fictional and real, somehow trade places with each other – one cannot avoid muddy thinking when it comes to earth projects, or what I will call “abstract geology”. Ones mind and the earth are in a constant state of erosion, mental rivers wear away abstract banks, brain waves undermine cliffs of thought, ideas decompose into stones of unknowing, and conceptual crystallizations break apart into deposits of gritty reason.’ 

Michel Serres’s work provides an engaging insight with regard to the notion of system. Whether through a reading of his early work on thermodynamics, information theory, noise and sensation or through reading him parallel with recent articulations on matter and meaning in the new-materialisms. Serres, as with DeLanda, Barad and Haraway, brings together a mixture of philosophies of language with materialism, materiality and meaning emerging out of each other. I have really only begun to get my head around the key themes but will continue to explore him in relation to Deleuze and DeLanda, my theory of aesthetics as emergence, sensation and geophilosophy. For now I just wanted to outline some very basic ideas in relation ‘The Parasite’, which was the selected reading for a recent system seminar.
Definitions of the parasite:
1. To one side of (para) the location of the event (site) – the medium or being through which communication must pass.
2. The ‘static’ that interrupts the transmission of a message.
3. The uninvited guest or ‘social’ parasite.
4. A living organism that takes without giving as it infects its hosts
5. The one who is always near to food, close to the meat
6. A thermal exciter, that which catalyses the system to a new equilibrium state
For Serres, the parasitic relation is the basic atom of all interaction, all entities relate, communicate, interrupt, filter and flow as a mixture of the material components of the parasitic or through the parasite of linguistic representation. Central to this characterization of relations is the noise that interrupts the message, he says ‘Noise calls for decipherment; it makes a reading of the message more difficult. And yet without it, there would be no message. There is, in short, no message without resistance’.
Some quotes from Serres and Steven Connor (who has a fantastic essay on Serres’s theory of the ‘Hard and Soft’ full essay here).
‘Sight gazes without seeing at a world from which information has already fled. Representation, a still ornamental species in the process of extinction, provokes gawking admiration in the public parks and gardens where onlookers congregate. Touch sees a little. It has heard’. (Five Senses, Philosophy of Mingled Bodies)
‘There is only one type of knowledge and it is always linked to an observer, and observer submerged in a system or in its proximity. And this observer is structured exactly like what he observes. His position changes only the relationship between noise and information, but he himself never effaces these two stable presences. There is no more separation between subject on the one hand, and the object, on the other (an instance of clarity and an instance of shadow). This separation makes everything inexplicable and unreal. Instead, each term of the traditional subject-object divide (in the same way as I am, who speak and write today): noise, disorder and chaos on the one side; complexity, arrangement and distribution on the other. Nothing distinguishes me ontologically from a crystal, a plant, an animal, or the order of the world; we are drifting together toward the noise and the black depths of the universe, and our diverse systemic complexions are flowing up the entropic stream, toward the solar origin, itself adrift. Knowledge is at most the reversal of drifting, that strange conversion of times, always paid for by additional drift; but this is complexity itself, which was once called being. Virtually stable turbulence within the flow. To be or to know from now on will be translated by: see the islands, rare or fortunate, the work of chance or of necessity’. (The Origin of Language)
Michel Serres’s work has been formed by two forms of scientific thinking, the thermodynamics of the nineteenth century, and the information theory of the middle of the twentieth century. The most important thing about thermodynamics is that, for the first time, time entered into the things of science, as the great reversible equations of Newtonian mechanics and the thermodynamic theory of Sadi Carnot, gave way to the understanding, following the work of Rudolf Clausius and William Thomson, that heat only flows from hot to cold, that heat, like time, has an irreversible direction. The great, sobering discovery of nineteenth-century thermodynamics is that matter is not just sunk in and subjected to time, but is internally riddled with it. Time is stored in and emitted by matter, rather than matter being buried in and propagated by time. The stone is not bowled along by the river, the river percolates slowly through the stone. (Steven Connor, Hard and Soft)
Mineralization is understood to be part of the process of the production of things, of the material production of ‘reality’. It is in this context that I see a trajectory for the materiality of paint. Pigment emerged from the natural and material world of plant tissue, animal matter and inorganic mineral and subsequently from industrial hydrocarbon extraction and chemical synthesis. As Philip Ball has noted, colour emerges from ground minerals such as transition metals where the atomic scale environment, the crystal field (electric fields of surrounding electrons) and the chemical constituents engender a unique individual singularity of colour. The materialities of paint have emerged, like fossils, through the entropic cycle of organism, ossified matter and non-organic life.
Extending this framework to incorporate a Deleuzian theory of art, we could say that the process and materiality of paint are ‘mineralized sensation’, composed of emergent and affective flows that manifest independent of human perceptions and affections. For Deleuze the percept extracts itself from perceptions of things and from a perceiving subject while affect extracts itself from states of transition. The traces of ‘nonhuman becomings’ and ‘non-human landscapes of nature’ are crystallized in paint matter as monuments, much as the traces of geological time are inscribed in the process of mineralization and in the materiality of the fossil record.
Fossils, like mineralization, refer to processes shaped by temporal and spatial singularities, a reclamation process born underground. For example ‘trace fossils’ are the residues of a life’s movement, habitat or excretions, something left out of left over, no longer connected to the organism that emerged through it, instead it is the preservation of a process or pattern of sensation. ‘Urolites’ are trace fossils made from piss, malodorous hybrid materials, decaying sediment that erode up and layer down like an industrial ruin or a chemical accident deep underground. This subterranean oil spill is drawn down into the earth by patination but this seepage is also growing up, out and around what has become, for us, an ambiguously permanent concrete fossil.
Sub-fossils are remains where the fossilization process is incomplete, where the contingency of time cuts short the production of non-organic life, once sealed within a solidifying slowing time allowing the fossilization process to gestate, the geological process is interrupted, an extraction or exposure takes place, perhaps the sub-fossil reconnects into an assemblage with the forgotten soft, gelatinous newcomers. Sub-fossils are often found in caves, preserved only for thousands of years, they are caught a strange between state of the organic and the inorganic.
A third mineralized entity is the Pseudo-fossil, a non-fossil, at least not accepted into the taxonomy. Pseudo-fossils are visual patterns in rocks produced by geologic flows rather than biological processes, such as dendrites formed by naturally occurring fissures in the rock that get filled by percolating minerals. These fossils give the appearance of the mineralization process, but the organic host was never there. The mineral deposits are mimics of life, by forming what seem to be complex organic structures. Pseudo-fossils are representations of fossils made by same non-human forces, the flows of matter-energy, from which fossils emerge.
Expanding out again, from this conception of paint as fossilized sensation, what might be speculated for aesthetic theory? We can see in the following quote from Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘What is Philosophy’ a possible orientation,
all things as contemplations not only people and animals but plants, the earth and rocks. Theses are not ideas that we contemplate through concepts but the elements of matter that we contemplate through sensation. The plant contemplates by contracting the elements from which it originates – light, carbon and the salts- and it fills with colours and odors that in each case qualify its variety, its composition: it is sensation in itself.’
In this context, we encounter the reconnection of the genetic conditions of real experience with the structures and materiality of art. Sensation is an aesthetic theory that, while revealed within the conditions of the work of art, expands beyond art into all systems. As John Protevi has pointed out, Deleuze and Guattari show that at critical thresholds some physical and biological systems can be said to ‘sense’ the differences in their environment that trigger self-organizing processes. In this way, Protevi says, signs – thresholds sensed by systems – are not only conceptualized as occurring beyond the register of their relation to signifiers, they are beyond the human and even the organic, they are understood as triggers of material processes. This is aesthetics as emergence.
In this context, sensation is immanent to the material energetic flows that fluctuate between the processual fluidity of the intensive and the matter of the extensive world. Sensation is a multiplicity of intensive interactions, layering’s and couplings of material processes. Aesthetics as sensation does not seek to map or represent transcendence projected onto the material world instead it is a component of the mechanisms of immanence as they emerge from matter itself. Aesthetics orientated in this way can set out to uncover the traces of intensive processes left behind in the informational patterns of matter. Art and the materiality of paint might become a speculative theory of matter. According to Simon O’Sullivan, aesthetics may be ‘an affective deterritorialisation’, a transformation in the matter of an assemblage an intensive transition from one state to another. The material processes of affective, emergent and contingent transition are the processes through which art attempts to siphon the intensive information of the imperceptible.
‘Not every organism has a brain, and not all life is organic, but everywhere there are forces that constitute microbrains, or an inorganic life of things’. 

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Onto-Cartography:  An Ontology of Machines and Media is nearly complete.  I conceive the relation between Onto-Cartography and The Democracy of Objectsas the relation between the transcendental dialectic and the transcendental analytic.  Where The Democracy of Objects explored being in terms of the constituent elements that make it up-- objects, or what I'm now calling "machines" --Onto-Cartography explores relations or interactions between machines in worlds, assemblages, or networks (all three terms are synonymous). 
Biopolitics, Society and Performance was a conference that took place in Trinity College Dublin, hosted by the School of Drama, Film and Music in association with Trinity Long Room Hub and Humanities Research Institute. Details of the speakers and abstracts can be found here. Many thanks to Steve Wilmer and various others that made this conference a great success. Below is a short synopsis of the keynote lectures by Giorgio Agamben and Rossi Braidotti.
Keynote 1: Giorgio Agamben “The Archaeology of the Work of Art”.
Agamben states,
‘The work of art has undergone a process of crisis which has led to its disappearance from the sphere of art with the result that today the performance and living praxis of the artist have tended to replace what we were accustomed to consider as a “work”.
What is the work of art if not conceived as consisting an object or work? Agemben’s genealogy of art starts with the ‘work’ of art conceived, in Greece in the 5 century, as the sole container for the meaning and significance of art. The artist is not significant because he/she does not have any ownership over the work of art once it is complete. The finished work of art contains in its entirety, itself and nothing associated with the artists process or life.
Another conception of the ‘work’ of art in Agamben’s talk comes from the avant-garde in 19th century where the work of art is conceived of as ‘liturgical’. In this sense Agamben draws a parallel between the artwork and its meaning through its situation within the museum or institution and meaning within the specific form of worship within the liturgical. Here art, as the liturgical, is inscribed with value or meaning from within a pre-defined institutional framework.
In the third context for the archaeology of the work of art, Agamben locates the work of art in New York in the beginning of the 20th Century with Marcel Duchamp and the production of the ‘work’ of art as readymade. In this context the work of art is transformed from the previous contexts where the triad of the work, the artist and the artistic practice is reformulated as the work of art reconceived as the encapsulated by its ‘idea’.
For Agamben the ‘work’ of art is in a problematic situation with regard to its meanings, both historically and in a contemporary context and must be given new meaning. It is suggested that the work of art can be conceived of as life itself. Art is a practice of life. In this sense the practice of Art is an ethics of life.
Keynote 2: Rosi Braidotti “What is Human about the Humanities today?”
Braidotti’s keynote lecture was of a different style and level of excitement than Agambens talk the previous night. She began by characterising the type of Humanism that she has been fighting against since the beginning of her career. This humanism is based in the human of Vetruvian man, of the hubris of the so-called and self-proclaimed self-reflective modern western human man who has sought to dominate nature in all its forms.
This humanism is still alive and well today in the form of biotechnological capitalism or cognitive capitalism that has opened a space whereby all forms of nature and culture, including all human and non-human biological data is now become a mere form of tradable commodity. While this expansion of anthropos continues in the format of disciplines, so too do the humanities continue to expand into other anti-human or posthuman territories or ‘studies’. Apart from the categorisation of disciplines, which are historical, contingent entities, Bradotti focuses on the proliferation of studies, such as woman’s studies or visual cultural studies, which allow for a multiplicity of variable approach’s to education and research. In short the multiversity over the university. This emerging posthumanism is, says Braidotti, an exhausting enterprise, it is continuing to produce new and diverse alternatives to biotechnological capitalism, but it is always difficult to remain thoroughly anti-human, as humans we are always reverting back into the historical breed of western humanism heralded by ‘the four horseman of the apocalypse of modernity’, Marx, Nietsche, Freud and Darwin. Of these, Braidotti points to Darwin as the key thinker for posthumanism.
There were a number of elements that Braidotti reiterated throughout the talk. As already mentioned, capitalism and its colonization of the biological and the version of the human that those working in the humanities have adopted, but also two other aspects of this world caught my attention. Firstly, the notion of thinking with ‘non-linearity’ – ‘we live non-linear lives, so why not think in a non-linear manner’ and secondly the shift from the anthropocentric to geocentric thinking.  I’ll come onto geocentric thinking in more detail later, as this was part of my own paper presented at this conference.
The notion of thinking in a non-linear fashion or thinking in multiple temporalities is fascinating and fundamental if the humanities or the posthumanities are to attempt to conceive of the ‘schizoid circulation of living matter’ in new ways, such as through new materialism. According to Braidotti, if we are to interrogate the reified generalities of the dominant disciplines of the humanities and capitalism, we have to employ a Deleuzeoguattarian non-linear rhizomatic thinking.  The multiplicity of temporalities, such as the individual singular lives we live, to the historical memories we carry in our biology and the geological historical trajectories in which we are situated must all be thought in simultaneous networked systems.
In ‘Iteration, Reiteration, Repetition: A Speculative Analysis of the Meaningless Sign’ from earlier this year, Quentin Meillassoux refines his neomaterialism from its introduction in his book ‘After Finitude’ and refines the variations of correlative thought to the terms ‘correlationism’ and ‘subjecticalism’. Correlationism here is the de-absolutisation of thought, it incorporates all forms of philosophy that are anti-absolutist. For Meillassoux this is ‘the closure of thought upon itself’ evident in modern and postmodern thought from phenomenology to post-structuralism. Meillassoux’s arguments here are as they were in After Finitude, they pertain to the ‘correlationist circle’ and ‘correlational facticity’. Subjecticalism on the other hand is the production of an absolute in the form of thought through subjectivity. This includes all forms of idealism and extends along the spectrum of thought to forms of vitalism. This seems to encompass all philosophy other than certain forms of materialism. Thus, Meillassoux’s neomaterialism is defined by its attempt to escape all forms of correlationism and subjecticalism.
Meillassoux’s materialism is speculative not metaphysical, it is a philosophy that claims to attain the absolute, ‘every thought acceding to an absolute that is at once external to thought and in itself devoid of all subjectivity’. However it does not absolutize any material reality, Meillassoux claims that matter is as contingent as the laws that govern them, that which is, is wholly contingent (hyperchaos). For Meillassoux the inorganic real as non-sentient is infinitely more interesting than the subjectivised world.  This contains ex nihilo emergence of realities such as sensation, perception, affect etc. This is neatly summed up in the phrase ‘being is not thought, thought can think being and the being of every thing is its contingency’.
Meillassoux expands the possible attainment of the absolute by claiming the use of the formal language of mathematics. Specifically, this formal language sees the introduction of the meaningless sign, a sign that is given ultimately for itself and not as a signified meaning. This meaningless or empty sign has an arbitrariness that cannot be captured by the conceptual, and this for Meillassoux is the necessary contingency of his speculative project.
What does this mean for Systems?
It appears that Meillassoux creates a very broad remit into which we can situate the meaning of systems. In the first instance we can interpret systems as correlationist. System has become a spatial and temporal metaphor through which we conceive of our life-world. Systems have replaced god and humanism as the dominant mode of thought through which we attempt to untangle meaning. Opposing this point of view, system can also refer to the contingency of Meillassoux’s materialism, where all material reality, forces of historical production etc are only knowable through being completely arbitrary and radically contingent.
For me, both of these perspectives are frustrating. While clearly the dominance of linguistic / subjectivist philosophies are being eroded as dominate modes of thought, a materialism based in a radical contingency is a bit too expansive and seems to leave no space for the process of reterritorialisation. I prefer the neomaterialism of Manuel DeLanda, where instead of systems emerging from a dualism of either mind world correlates or as radically contingent, systems are assemblages with unique ‘individuated trajectories’ that emerge from the matter energy flows that emerge and are situated within geological non-organic life.
Thanks to all who attended the first system seminar of the semester last week. It was a really engaging few hours, that produced a lot of interesting possibilities, particularly regarding DeLanda, who dominated the conversation. I’ll give a brief account of the main themes covered and leave it open for people to continue the conversation if they wish.
1. The process by which a Metaphor becomes Isomorphism was of interest with regard to Correlationist thinking. Does metaphor lead to an inevitable circularity within thought or can DeLanda move from metaphor to real isomorphic systems without too much concern. This issue reoccured with regard to Bryant’s reference of Bhaskar’s ‘Epistemic Fallacy’ and the dual between epistemology and ontology.
2. Morphogenesis v Autopoiesis: DeLanda’s Hierarchies and Meshworks emerge from geological processes, which helped to position it apart from the anthropocentrism of life. This was held in contrast to Niklas Luhman’s systems theory that starts with life.
3. Hierarchies and Meshworks, how do they combine and interact? I’m still looking for some clear reference in DeLanda for this, however, I think it comes back to where DeLanda cites the intensive differences of temperature and pressure etc, that drive complexity and thus the intermingling of hierarchies and meshworks.
4. Does Agency or Will have a role in Delanda’s social systems?
5. There was a brief mention of thermodynamics and entropy and so I wanted to include a reference to Non Linear Thermodynamics, to which DeLanda often turns. This involves most systems in nature, which are not in thermodynamic equilibrium, but are always open to change as they are open to the flow of matter energy from other systems.
Thanks again for coming and making the seminar really exciting. The next meeting will be on Wednesday 17th October. We’ll be looking Quentin Meillassoux, the main text will be his Berlin 2012 lecture, with a supplementary text by Alexander Galloway entitled ‘French Theory Today’ (Meillassoux is from page 71) are both in the dropbox folder.
See you all next week.

Yves Klein’s approach to painting evident both in the work itself and in his writings on painting and sensibility from the 1950’s and early 1960’s is a helpful staring point from which to configure components of DeLanda’s aesthetics, such as matter energy flow and the intensive, virtual and extensive. Klein’s main concerns with painting worked against painting as historically representational, which he perceived as a prison of concretized mortality, emotion, reason and spirituality. He also set himself in opposition to abstract expressionism, which he saw as the ‘hypertrophy of the Me, of the personality’. Instead Klein claimed a painting that prioritised colour as ‘sensibility become matter – matter in its first, primal state’, however, for Klein this primal state of matter was immaterial or intangible ‘like humidity in the air’. This sensibility of matter in immaterial form was manifest initially in his blue monochromes, which consisted of natural pigment suspended in a synthetic polymer medium on cotton over plywood. The combination of a natural ultramarine pigment with the new science of synthetic resins enabled Klein to produce a blue that was, for him, vibrant and unique amongst all colour, as it had the capacity to transform its materiality into pure sensibility. Klein also displayed the raw pigment on horizontal trays, without the synthetic resin to fix it. Pigment in its powder form spread out as material colour further defines Klein’s approach to aesthetics as a preoccupation with matter in base form, lingering on the edge between material and immaterial sensibility, an attempt to tap into the connection between the physics of matter and the spirituality of the void.
The connection here between the material world and the immaterial void, between matter as intangible colour, sensibility and the spiritual affords a tentative step towards DeLanda’s materialism, specifically with regard to realm of the virtual. The virtual is arranged and populated by the structure of possibility through intensive processes of differentiation from which the spatial metric world emerges. For Klein, as for DeLanda, the real fluctuates between, actual material entities existing in consecutive nested present moments, and the real as a virtual, the unactualized multiplicity awaiting activation. According to Klein, the practice of producing the monochrome works was both a preparatory step towards and a leftover trace of, the real artwork, which was aimed at accessing the immaterial or virtual through the sensation of the experience of ‘pure energy’ extracted from the materiality of colour. Klein positions painting, not as the reflexive anthropomorphic activity of representation or expression, but instead Klein is concerned with what painting and it’s chemical materiality can do, and how painting can be activated by a rupture or emergence of intensive stimulus. Klein claims,
‘A painting is merely a witness, the sensory surface that records what occurs. Colour, in its chemical state, is the medium most capable of being impressed by the ‘event’. Paintings are poetic events, immobile witnesses, silent static witnesses of the movement and of free life’.
Klein believed in the ability of painting to connect with a kind of non-human sensibility or stimulus that instead of emerging from the familiar or habitual mechanisms of imagination and memory, emerged from something beyond and apart from us yet immanent to all matter energy. Klein referred to this stimulus as ‘psychism’, ‘the continuous experience of a beginning, of newness’. Painting and its chemical, inorganic materiality is, for Klein, connected to structures and dynamics of the virtual multiplicity. Klein’s monochromes and pigment installations test the boundaries of the presentation and activation of sensation. On one side we are presented with the extensive metric world of inorganic matter and on the other side of the boundary lurks the invisible and immaterial, which Klein attempts to import through transformation. This transformation occurs in both directions, the material pigment is transformed into the immaterial sensible event or experience which can in turn become manifest as matter.
The aesthetic implications of ‘immaterial pictorial sensibility’ or the ‘virtual multiplicity’ of Yves Klein’s monochromes and installations can be further accentuated if we consider the notion of the immaterial as ‘unpresentable’. Jean Francois Lyotard’s writing on art and the sublime can offer a guide towards thinking the immaterial / material nexus in aesthetics but it can also offer important insights for configuring painting as a philosophy of immanence.
For Lyotard, the industrial techno-science behind the mediums of photography and cinematography suffers from the ‘infallibility of what is perfectly programmed’, the rules of formation are somewhat pre-determined. The medium of paint on the other hand overturns these pre-determined givens of the visible and reveals that the visual field hides and requires invisibilities, placing the aesthetic of the sublime somewhere between the eye and the mind, the sensible and the intelligible. The invisibilities within the visual field, the attempt at the presentation of the unpresentable, the flows between matter and its immateriality, the opening up of a void within matter itself, are all configured around what DeLanda sees as the difference driven dynamic process rather than the final state of a system, becoming not being. Within this regime of becoming, and Lyotard’s ‘immanent sublime’, Klein’s patented blue monochromes and colour more generally, becomes the site from which matter is both immaterial and invisible, is pure abstraction yet fully real and that which is always producing new affective assemblages. 
In David Cronenberg’s recently released film adaptation of Don Dillio’s ‘Cosmopolis’, a 21st representation of abstract expressionism is the frame to a now almost familiar posthumanism. The opening credits shows a Jackson Pollock drip timelapse, while the final credits show cropped fragments of Mark Rothko’s colour fields. Cosmopolis is the story of Eric Packer, a billionaire through freakish financial genius or through chance access to a language of zeros and ones, who takes a journey across Manhattan in his customized limousine. But as the references to abstraction allude, the journey and the man are more then narrative devices. As the limousine makes its way through a frenzied Manhattan, the level of abstraction intensifies. Human qualities are liquified and a machine like intelligence grows behind the flesh of expressionless faces. Packer meets with his advisors in sporadic chance meetings across the city.
One interlocutor reveals to Packer that a Mark Rothko painting will soon come to auction and that he should buy it and fullfill a long term desire. In response Packer calculates that instead of a single Rothko, he would prefer to purchase the entire Rothko Chapel. Rather than just owning a mere Rothko object, Packer wants to own the abstraction of the spiritual experience that others feel in the chapel itself. He wants to own the affect that emerges from art, the affect that he can no longer feel from the sensual world. He can only desire to own desire but not desire itself.
‘If they sell me the chapel, I’ll keep it intact’
Another dialogue reveals that, just as historical painting lost its narrative, so to has time and the contemporary condition become pure abstraction. Money is talking to itself. The advisor theoretician claims to know nothing of this strange abstraction even as it concerns her every thought. She reveals how shameless she is in the presence of anything that calls itself an idea. While the focus for science and philosophy has been the extraction of knowledge for humans, so to has art left behind a concern with objects and their materials, for a conceptualism that places human trauma in discursive and coded systems, to be reformatted and archived  for future generations.
‘Cyber capital creates the future’
In a third reference to abstract painting, a rougue artist / activist attacks Packer with a cream pie, and claims that he is an action painter. He is remaking the action of abstraction into a slapstick gesture of ironic humiliation. The expression of abstraction is further distilled into a spasmodic twitch between the non-meaning of the absurd, and the desire to escape meaninglessness and to activate art into a tool for social change.
‘I cremed Fidel three times in six days when he is in Bucharest last year. I am action painter of creme pies’
These leakages of meaning flow from the histories and metaphors of abstract expressionism and seep into the ‘real’ worlds of information, money and desire. These contemporary expressions have for decades been reduced to code. There is no longer any signifier in this system, only signs in and of themselves. To cut this repetition short, the algorithmic code no longer has an endpoint where decoding takes place. Instead the code feeds it own autocatalysis, slowly erasing all other extraneous referents. In the end Packer seeks out and is confronted with his nemesis. He is faced with an obsolete model of human, who failed in his attempts to meet the requirements of code. All that is left is for the obsolete, desperate human to kill Packer and his practices of finacial abstraction.
In Cosmopolis, abstract expressionism reflects the transgressive states of mind in a posthumanism that is constantly attempting to replace the human back at the centre of all meaning. The desire for spiritual solace, the evaporation of objects into the black-hole of desireless coded information and the re-assertion of old legacies into moments of extreme bodily convulsion will be recurrent themes unless a posthumanism where ‘rocks and winds, germs and words, are all seen as different manifestations of this dynamic material reality… they all represent the different ways in which this single matter energy expresses itself’.
Manuel DeLanda’s neo-materialism is a philosophy of matter that not only speculates a ‘machinic phylum’ or ‘non-organic vitality’ but also develops a rigorous theoretical framework for the processes of morphogenesis in all types of systems whether they are of geological, social, economic or psychic nature. These speculative and rigorous qualities draw on the ‘flows’ of matter-energy as they move through phase transitions from solid, liquid and gas forming structural territories like geological strata or static institutions while also deterritorialising structures like social relations or the effects of hallucinatory chemicals on the psychic structures of the mind. While DeLanda’s ontology is broadly concerned with social, technological and scientific systems, it is my claim that his philosophy of matter can also be formulated towards, ‘an aesthetics of emergence’. I’ll be working on this theory for next few months, and will post some more detailed statements here, but for now I want show some contemporary painting that I think can be seen to philosophise matter through an aesthetics of emergence, which performs what I call ‘a geophilosophy of paint’.
Keith Tyson’s ‘Nature Paintings’ from 2006 offer real emergent qualities. Medium to large-scale works of mixed media on acid primed aluminum or mirror are dependent on chance, material viscosity, behavioral gravitational pull, ambient and local temperature, and on patterns that are created by chemical reaction. The artist sets up the parameters from which random and chaotic flows mix matter into weird oil and pigment ecosystems. Reminiscent of ‘nebula, histology plate, rock formation or industrial outflow’ Tyson’s nature paintings expose the forces and process of systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Tyson’s other projects, including the ‘History Paintings’ series evokes time, geography and randomness, the ‘Large Field Array’, cubic sculptures named after a linked telescope project in New Mexico as well as the ‘Artmachine’ project which uses computer algorithms to generate proposals for art works, offer a strong associations with DeLanda’s ontology of non-human agency and the ‘machinc phylum’.
Two other artists in the contemporary context offer equally engaging but differing approaches to painting’s materiality and emergent capacities. Jacob Kassay makes medium sized silver monochromes, the generative process of which is a literal chemical process. After preparing the canvas with gesso and silver paint, the works are coated in chemicals and exposed to the process of electrolysis – a direct electrical current drives a chemical reaction to form pattern and mirroring qualities on the surface. This self-organizing process shifts the meanings of painting yet again into new industrial and scientific domains. Daniel Turner is another artist whose practice employs the chemical and material qualities of matter itself. In one installation, an iron oxide stain on the gallery floor alludes to the base mineral matter from which paint was originally derived. The emergence of minerals in the early formation of matter in geological processes is brought into the gallery space as an accidental stain of iron oxide drawing us closer to the possibility of conceiving of a world beyond the socially constructed mind – world correlate of idealist philosophy. Instead, a ‘speculative realist’ or ‘neo-materialist’ philosophy of art can lead us out of our current anthropomorphic fog.
‘This emergence insists on the power that things have in and over our lives. The banalities, oddities, or necessities that occupy space, also make it possible to leave that space altogether.  Objects all hold the endless capacity to estrange us from the comfort of the given; to evoke what remains unseen, or previously unthought.  An object can do this on its own, but it can also do it as a series working together’.
From ‘Appoggiatura’ by Jacob Kassay and Ajay Kurian.
In an essay entitled ‘Art as Abstract Machine: Guattari’s Modernist Aesthetics’ in the recent volume of the Deleuze Studies Journal, Stephen Zepke makes the case for a reappraisal of Felix Guattari’s relationship with two variants of contemporary art. The first variety is the dominant form today, that of conceptual, art-into-life, non-aesthetic and second is a contemporary art that is based on the legacies of Modern art, ‘an aesthetic paradigm’ that is concerned with the production of the new within the present. Stephen Zepke says;
‘Art into life! This slogan has echoed from Duchamp to the neo-avant-garde of Conceptual art, before reaching its drab and almost hegemonic status today as an institutionalised theory of ‘non-art’. Guattari is often enlisted as part of this movement, but such claims leave out one rather important point: Guattari was a modernist!’ (225).
Zepke continues by extracting the elements of modernism that are salvaged by Guattari. Guattari’s modernism is a commitment to abstraction, autonomy, materialism, and immanent critique. It is a process of transformation and the emergence of the new. It is also the rejection of formalist abuses and reductions, such as the institutional and financial controls on art, and opposed to the myths of origin and progress. A shift from Buchloh’s ‘administrative aesthetic’ of conceptual art is rejected for a return or reformatting of sensation through material, technique and expressive, singular and cosmological trajectories.
Zepke points out that simple materials and cosmic forces achieve a consistency through technique. These materials are ‘abstracted’ from their external referents so that their intense complexity can be expressed’. Zepke continues, ‘For Guattari, modern art offers the model of an autonomous process of autopoiesis, it does not seek its categorical a prioris (qua conditions of possibility) but detaches (one could say ‘abstracts’) material-forces from these conditions, in order for them to repeat as difference. (228).
Abstraction is a process of self-reference, a visual block or sensation. It is a double movement that deterritorialises a materials signification (representational or linguistic) while also connecting up with a system of linkages or differences, the self-reflective abstraction of materials to the point where they can construct their own cosmos.
Through the term ‘Utopia’ Guattari claims that philosophy and art can create the new, within the present, through immanent abstraction, singularisation and autonomy. That art and philosophy can perform an ‘institutional therapeutics’, ‘a double becoming in which the abstract machine of modern art retains its autonomy, the better to intervene in the present through a cosmo-politics of experimentation. Modern art for Guattari was not something to be against; it was something to be affirmed as our most effective laboratory of the future’ (236).
Art is, Guattari says, ‘an alterity grasped at the point of its emergence . . . ’
Colour acting upon the nervous system, upon the sense organs, creates a sensation that is prior to thought, a sensation is the ‘action of invisible forces on the body’ (Deleuze, 2003 p.41). Bacons painting captures the invisible forces and movements as they manifest through the folding in of the external and a folding out of the internal. A violent spasm, or rhythm vibrates through the levels of sensation, moving through the sense registers, connecting the senses through the visual. Deleuze asks how can one make invisible forces visible? The answer emerges in Bacons painting through demonstrating the forces that affect the body as isolation, deformation and dissipation. For Deleuze, as for Bacon, sensation is the folding of the object and subject into a ‘pure vision of a non-human eye, a haptic-eye whose vision constructs matter at the same time as perceiving it’ (Zepke, 2005 p.204). This haptic eye is a convergence of the tactile and of the visual. It is a being in the material world, while also constructing it through a colouring sensation. Modulating colour is the key to the logic of sensation; ‘sensation is paintings way of thinking a haptic thought’ (Zepke, 2005 p.204).
‘The diagram is indeed a chaos, a catastrophe but it is also a germ of order or rhythm’ (Deleuze, 2003 p.102). Francis Bacon’s diagram is composed of colour patches and line-traits, explored by Deleuze, as the random marks and cleanings that scramble the logic of thought into the logic of sensation. These random or involuntary markings and unmarkings insert a ‘vitalist non-organic life’ into the place where the figure attempts to evacuate itself, a shifting and bleeding between the mental/optical and the material/manual registers. ‘The Diagram is thus the operative set of asignifying and nonrepresentative lines and zones,’ (Deleuze, 2003 p.101), ‘from which something must emerge, if nothing emerges it fails’ (Deleuze, 2003 p.159). The diagram, then, is a kind of machine that negates or erases the accumulated clichés of art history to create the new.
‘The body is living but non-organic, the organism is what imprisons life. The body is completely living, and yet non-organic. Likewise, sensation, when it acquires a body through the organism, takes on an excessive and spasmodic appearance, exceeding the bounds of organic activity. It is immediately conveyed in the flesh through the nervous wave or vital emotion…the body without organs is flesh and nerve; a wave flows through it and traces levels upon it; a sensation is produced when the wave encounters the forces acting on the body, an “affective athleticism”, a scream breath’ (Deleuze, 2003 p.45).
We can further define the Body without Organs in Manuel DeLanda’s essay ‘The Geology of Morals: A Neo-Materialist Interpretation’, in which the BwO is a ‘special state of matter-energy-information, a flowing reality animated by self-organising processes constituting a veritable non-organic life’. DeLanda’s quotes Deleuze where the BwO is ‘that glacial reality where the alluvions, sedimentations, coagulations, foldings and recoilings that compose an organism occur’ (Deleuze, 1989 p.159). This strange non-organic life in which is evident for Deleuze and Delanda ‘the flows of lava, biomass, genes, memes, norms, money (and many others) are crucial for the emergence of just about any stable structure that we cherish and value (or, on the contrary, that oppresses and slaves us)’ (DeLanda, 1995 p.10). This flow is evident in the formations of painting as an ontological and aesthetic formation, painting as a ‘non-organic life’, the same sedimentations and coagulations, foldings and recoilings that DeLanda sees in the BwO, are present in the material, manual, optical and mental systems of painting.
Deleuze says, in Bacons painting, the figure attempts to escape from itself, from its body it is drawn out by the forces affecting it into a becoming animal, non-human or inorganic. This ‘zone of indescernability’ between human and animal comprised of emerging forces shows how, unlike the phenomenological approach, sensation is not immanent to the subject but to the twitches of a non-human vitalism. Flesh matter no longer relates to any figure but only to a collapsing rhythm, fall or flow.
‘If everything is alive, it is not because everything is organic or organized, but, on the contrary, because the organism is a diversion of life. In short the life in question is inorganic, germinal, and intensive, a powerful life without organs, a body that is all the more alive for having no organs’ (Deleuze, 1989 p. 499).
DeLanda, Manuel. The Geology of Morals: A Neo-Materialist Interpretation 1995. Presented at the Virtual Conference 95, Warwick University, UK.
Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (1981) 2003. Continuum London New York
Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Felix. A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia 1987. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London.
Zepke, Stephen. Art as Abstract Machine: Ontology and Aesthetics in Deleuze and Guattari 2005. Routledge, New York, London.
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In light of a discussion Tim and I have been having via email, I've found myself reflecting on my core obsessions. What is that thing or those things that haunt me at the core of thought, those issues that always return, those things that I can never quite get out of my head? This question might appear easy to answer. I'm obsessed with the nature of substance.
The slow accumulation of historical processes, the emergent patterns of becoming, the stratification and subsequent de-stratification of assemblages are concepts that are both real and metaphorical. Manuel DeLanda interprets the ontology of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari as a new materialism or geophilosophy. An example of this re-configured ‘philosophy of immanence’ from Manuel Delanda’s ‘A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History’ might help to illustrate the powerful collisions between the real and the metaphorical, and in so doing, help to construct the apparatus for the mining of the illusive worlds beyond our man-made façade. The following quotation explores the process of mineralization,
“In the organic world, soft tissue (gels and aerosols, muscle and nerve) reigned supreme until 500 million years ago. At that point, some of the conglomerations of fleshy-matter energy that made up life under-went a sudden mineralization, a new material for constructing living creatures emerged: bone. It is almost as if the mineral world that had served as a substratum for the emergence of biological creatures was reasserting itself, confirming that geology, far from having been left behind as a primitive stage of the earths evolution, fully co-existed with the soft, gelatinous newcomers. Primitive bone, a stiff calcified rod that would later become the vertebral column, made new forms of movement control possible… and yet bone never forgot its mineral origins: it is the living material that most easily petrifies, that most readily crosses the threshold back to the world of rocks. For that reason, much of the geological record is written with bone fossil. About 8000 years ago, human populations began mineralizing again when they developed an urban exoskeleton, bricks of sun-dried clay became building materials, stone monuments and defensive walls. This exoskeleton served a purpose similar to its internal counterpart, to control the movement of human flesh in and out of the town walls.” (DeLanda, 1997, p.26-27)
The term ‘mineralization’ has multiple applications and so meaning is not static. Soil mineralization is the result of chemical compounds in organic matter decomposing into plant accessible forms. In geology, the process introduces metals into rock as well as the process by which sediments replace organic material in the body of an organism that died and been buried. In biology, the term relates to the process where an organic substance is transformed into an inorganic one, when, as DeLanda says, soft tissue becomes bone, or when bacteria eats the organic matter and leaves behind the minerals to produce a fossil. All of these attributed meanings are understood to be part of the process of production of things, and so contribute to the material production of ‘reality’, however much we are denied access to it. DeLanda uses this realism to inject the abstract concept of emergence with a reality, when he says that the mineral world was re-asserting itself in reaction to the organic through the production of bone. But more interesting here is the transition of the use of the term mineralization in real terms into what seems to be the metaphorical use of the term. DeLanda says that humans began mineralizing again in the production of an ‘urban exoskeleton’ through the use of minerals in the form of building materials and thus producing control over its fleshy counterpart. He goes still further by saying that the process of mineralization is evident in the building of stone monuments.
In the coarse of one paragraph, DeLanda sees the internal biological process of the mineralization of tissue into bone, as analogous with the human construction of objects of tribal worship. The resulting materiality of mineralization becomes an apparatus from which visual technologies and representation emerge. Minerals such as ochres or iron oxide enable the performance of analogues which eventually become the aesthetic surfaces or objects we engage with through the legacies of modernist abstraction (although the modern period is based on the industrial production of synthetic colour – more on this is a later post). It seems that the re-assertion of the non-organic world over the organic through the production of bone or millions of years later through the enclosure of the organic behind in-organic stone walls, tells us that we are not mere observers of a world from which we are denied access, but we are instead caught up in the very processes of emergence we seek to de-code. We are the material flows of matter and energy as well as objects that deny access only to present a surface for consideration.
The formulation of art as a kind of process of fossilization that is embedded, from the very beginning, within the autopoietic machine that evolved into the embodiment of consciousness with flesh and bone re-articulates assumptions around the legacies of modernist abstraction. As Bruno Latour has long since recognized in the claim that we have never been modern because we have never really made a split between human and world, the reality and the metaphor of art and mineralization allows for the legacies of modernist abstraction to be open to the perturbations of the non-modern world and not the abstraction that ‘rules in a void, pretending to be free of time’.
From bone emerging from soft tissue, to the construction of walls and monuments and still further to the creation of objects of tribal worship and idols that perform representation to the abstract reduction of forms to surface and the self-referentiality of modernism, we are fully immersed in a kind of ‘speculative sublime’. All artworks, as well as other types of things not yet ‘classified’ as artworks, are a process of fossilization. They are traces of emergence and the remains of autopoietic machines that have been swept up and deposited by the flows of matter and energy. The remains are left behind as new forms emerge within new relations and systems of reference to be carried onward into the continuous remaking of old fossils. In this context, it seems that the process of emergence is only ever traceable through its discarded remnants, as relics of an endless entropic perishing and re-emerging.
The reality of this metaphor within the context of the legacies of modernism is easily associated with the work of Robert Smithson. Works such as Spiral Jetty – Great Salt Lake, Utah 1970 or Partially Buried Woodshed – Kent State University, Ohio 1970, or a proposal for a reclamation for s strip mine site 1972 are just a few amongst a body of work that constantly pushed the concept of entropy into the social sphere. The relation of a slow geological collapse toward a state of equilibrium with the perceived collapse of the modernist project was a reoccurring theme until his death. Smithson’s art is part of the wider speculative metaphor of the geological and biological processes of mineralization. Just as the process of mineralization destroys the organic leaving behind complex structures of the inorganic, Smithson’s works attempt to engage the dialectic relationship between strip mining and land reclamation, leaving behind earth works that are real man-made fossil monuments to the non-human world. In a sense Smithson’s medium, is the combination of a system of scientific references with the tired ruin of geographic, social and cultural entropy, the works that emerge from the overlap are relics and impressions of the petrified remains and irreversibility of collapsed time.

It might be fitting to appropriate the form of communication, used ubiquitously during the period under observation, if not for any rational purpose, than just in the spirit of the ‘game play’ that was synonymous with the use of textual coding or ‘language’ as it was known a few hundred years ago. As the analyst thought this to himself, his co-analyst (co-an) seemed to know immediately and agree that this was a good idea. Bringing up the visual prosthetic, externally, the analyst engaged the materialization process. What was for these two analysts usually a telepathic exercise, this task would be an experiment in inhabiting written text. The task as ever was a task of data retrieval/mining. To explore any useful remnants or fragments of information found in biological or textual informatics prior to the ‘entwinement’. The purpose of this data retrieval/mining activity was to gain some useful information on the build up to and causes of this ‘entwinement’. Many other analysts were engaged in the same process, some entombed beneath the earth’s surface, others floating in the upper atmosphere.
The word ‘entwinement’ is as close a description that can be achieved, considering that the period referred to is the period of the end of linguistic communication and the beginning of the post-lingua era. The entwinement, therefore, is the first and last word created to describe the phenomena of the end of linguistics and textuality and the beginning of a post-lingual ‘deafness’, only this deafness affected the ability to interpret information of any kind. It is broadly accepted, amongst the analysts that the ‘entwinement’ is the result, initially of a genetic accident which then infects the structure of the science of information, the practice of information processing and the engineering of information systems. A massive blindspot exists for an unknown period until the emergence of telepathy via an artificial nervous system.
This entwining of biological code and linguistic code gave rise to a quite unfathomable effect. Linguistic information known to most, existing in an open network known as the world wide web, a seemingly infinite resource of coded information became host to the parasite of genetic information which had begun to self-replicate the process of production, circulation and eventual consumption, resulting in the emergence of matter from information. Essentially, the appropriation of a vast reservoir of random user generated information into the genetic recoding process and developing into a zygote/blastomere/fetal mutation infecting the global gene pool, the accident went ‘germline’. Literally, as information came into existence, through typing words on a computer or speaking to another person, the parasitic materialization of biological matter would unfold. A merging or ‘twining’ of thought with biological stuff became externalized. The landscape of cities became a landscape of the mind. The materiality of the central nervous system, the pinkish white lipid tissue veined with capillaries, grows out of the pathological growth of information and consumes the thoughts and objects in an environment forever altered.
Sealed, in a lead subterranean chamber, the analysts began their boredom relieving experiment with a configuration of symbols of digital language. They would be safe here from the infections above. As the system began trawling through the remnants of an informatic of relentless growth, information began to display,

< “The organism feeds upon negative entropy (sunlight)’,
attracting, as it were, a stream of negative
entropy upon itself, to compensate the entropy
increase it produces by living and thus to
maintain itself on a stationary and fairly low
entropy level.” P26
The displayed texts, were refined from the unmeaning code, the data mining software was crude but did manage to extract some coherent information. The analysts agreed that the source was of interest and they continued the feed,
< The accident of the cut-up technique, devised by William Burroughs in novels such as ‘The Naked Lunch’ and ‘The Ticket that Exploded’, are about creating gaps in the space and time of an already determined universe. Allan Ginsberg and Burroughs explore Wittgenstein’s idea of the ‘pre-recorded universe’, in which the only thing not pre-recorded is the pre-recording itself. The cut-ups are an attempt to tamper with these pre-recordings. This tampering and game playing with language is still being applied today, but to a different set of symbols. In a sense, a kind of textuality is still operating as code for the entrance into a materiality which is just as inherently locked within us as the roots of the words we speak, but this materiality hides the invisible microscopic information in biological tissue. In a once novel trope, Burroughs described the word and language as virus, organism and parasite. Today we can en-code, re-code and de-code the essence of biological systems into arrangements of letters, deformed, unmeaning words and into languages that can be hybridized, infected and re-configured through intention turned accident.
Repeat {enlarge text}
< In a once novel trope, Burroughs described the word and language as virus, organism and parasite. Today we can en-code, re-code and de-code the essence of biological systems into arrangements of letters, deformed, unmeaning words and into languages that can be hybridized, infected and re-configured through intention turned accident.
The two analysts glanced at each other, with a quizzical and some-what bemused confusion. Surely this was a coincidental game itself. Could this be relevant to the ‘entwinement’?
< In the ‘The Ticket that Exploded’ the cut-up is expanded by technology. Tape recordings splice the internal monologue, the constant chattering of the self to the self, with the external world. This liberation of the subject from the parasite of language is a literal externalization. This connects the tissue of the body with the literary cut-up, the physical paper and scissors to the machine of recording the body. Thus merging the unstable code of linguistic language with the soon to be unstable biological code of genetics. Today’s environments of codification are closer to this convergence than that of the analogue tape recording. The digital is now host to the parasite that Burroughs saw in language, the process of externalizing the parasite of the mind has become benign. The parasite is host to parasite. The body and the word are trapped in a symbiosis within digital code that requires re-externalization. This new externalizing process, with the help of bioinformatics and wet-lab techniques, will be both a re-configuration of communication and of human biology.
< In the context of this re-configuration, we can look at the work of an artist, who, like William Burroughs, seeks to liberate the subject from the parasitism of linguistic and biological evolution, an artist who is involved in the cross-over between contemporary art and the life-sciences, an artist who may be said to have as much in common with Burroughs as with the fictional Dr. Benway. ADAM Zaretsky is currently involved in a project, ‘Mutate or Die’, to create a ‘transgenic hieroglyph’ of William Burroughs, from a very unique sample of Burroughs’ own ‘gut flora’. Zaretsky is forthcoming about his belief that issues around genetic manipulation and eugenics are an inevitable aesthetic concern for society and for the artist. His ideology sees genetic engineers as artists of the flesh, but in paraphrasing the artist we lose the connection with language and with Burroughs that is our focus, in the words of the Doctor himself;
< “If I am a representative of any ideology, it leans towards appreciation of Full Breadth Genetic Alterity. If we are in the process of engaging in auto-evolution, then diversity, the inherent biological love of difference, implies that the human genome should be engineered with as wide a range of genre humans as there are art movements and swanky tastes in the world. Post human integrity is only guaranteed by an expanded aesthetics of anatomy, the more obscure the better… Let’s alter our identity as a species by birthing versions of ourselves into every permutative potential of fleshbound imagination. Let’s have a punk banquet of anatomy, a buffet of new senses, fancy new and multiple genital-orifice smorgasbords and the mad collage of multi-species brains. If we are to go this route, let’s not start by being monocultural, paternalistic snotbags with assumed distinction ruling over the aesthetics of betterment. We must be done with the rhetoric of human enhancement.”

The analysts agreed that the text was most probably an example of ‘academic speculation’ based on a single persons ‘interpretation’, the purpose of which was to achieve merit within some institutional framework or, and this is what the analysts felt for certain, that the text was an example of the practice known as ‘art criticism’. The two analysts took a long pause, and then finally and simultaneously, expelled robust laughter at the thought. No sooner had they begun laughing when the display lit up.
< Dr. Benway. / Zaretsky / Dr. Benway. Zaretsky                       
dr. Zaretsky – Scientifc American / February 19 2009 01:30pm
Fetal stem cells cause tumor in a teenage boy. In may 2001, In a highlt experiemtnal procedure, doctors injected fetal stem cells into the various regions of a nine year old israeli childs brain. The child suffered from ataxia telangiectasia (at), a childhood disease that causes degeneration of parts of the brain that control muscle movements and speech. Some months after the operation, the child was diagnosed with a brain tumor that grew from the injected stem cells. The operation was carried out in russia.
An artist who witnessed the operation, declined to comment on the experiment, his name was dR. ADAM ZARETSKY.
The laughter stopped and the two analysts sensed each other’s nervous energy increase. The story of a genetic experiment, turned accident had become the center of a mythology of the entwinement but this was the first remnant of corroborating information extracted since the search began. The analysts were aware of the work of Melissa Cooper and the origins of the phrase ‘embryonic stem cell’ in the 1960’s and 70’s through studies of embryonal tumors. The term was interchangeable with ‘embryonal carcinoma cell’ and raised issues around the definition of ‘normal’ and ‘pathological’ growth. Where cancer cells were seen as pathological and excessive growth refusing to submit to the limits of generational time, stem cells were seen as benign, regenerative, therapeutic and as a magic substance for prolonging life.
The analysts began to disseminate the new information to the other analysts located above and below the surface. As more analysts became involved in this new thread of investigation, more information flowed in…
<  Ataxia Telangiectasia (a-t) is caused by a defect in the gene responsible for recognising and correcting errors in duplicating dna when cells divide. Normally, when a cell tries to duplicate damaged dna, it identifies the damage at several checkpoints in the cell division cycle. It tries to repair the damage, and, if it can’t repair the damdage, it commits suicide through programmed cell death. In A-T, THE PATHWAYS THAT CONTROL THESE PROCESSES ARE DEFECTIVE. THIS ALLOWS CELLS WITH DAMDAGED DNA TO REPROduce, resulting in chromosome instability, abnormalities in genetic recombination, and an absence of programmed cell death.
< Did the role of art to operations were performances in the offing. Throwing a scalpel across a vector – a DNA molecule used and then make his entrance organism. Examples including speed were incredible bacteriophages, viral of phage he would say. Tumors put vehicles in cloning. Fucking undisciplined political mutations, one can say advancing on the tumor comparable to religion. Art is initiatory, certainly not to question the world 18th and the 19th with his skill and knowledge have been, in the profane sense, danger he has himself invoked and announced prophetically that was in surgeon deliberately. To transfer foreign DNA into a host with incredible speed.
Plasmids, cosmids and from death at the last vectors are often used as delivery. Perform advisedly because in some way the arts had cells that would snarl and philosophy, but the role of art like a knife-fighter the way philosophy and religion since romanticism.
Since the bullfighter centuries, the arts extricates itself from the word, prophetic in this operation. He would start endangering his patient and the room into the patient. Celebrity rescues him like a ballet dancer. His possible split second….I don’t give them time to die, Tetrazzini perform. I say him in a frenzy of rage.
Dr Benway is operating B=GTC (all but A) students: now boys D=GAT (all but C) performed very often. And in calling the structure of the sea it is absolutely shaped rod-like. A code script knows the purpose of mind, once conceived by Laplace. To have a purpose at all. Immediately open could tell from artistic creation to develop under suitable conditions C=cytosine speckled hen into a fly or maize G=guanine mouse or a woman. T=thymine bomb and genetic bomb chromosome fibers (usually fiber in speed). We mean that the all penetrating movement and acceleration up to which every causal connection lay in the cybernetic live transmission. Their structure whether the egg, A=adenine into a black cock or into a gene splicing insertion of plant, a rhododendron, a beetle, a transfer of a vector into M= AC (amino). Hybridoma- the use of tumor cells S=GC (strong bonds) existing cell lines. An immortal reaching the speed of light fusion of B lymphocytes, in television, tele-audition tumor cells (hela cell line). Revolution of transplants W=AT (weak bonds) of certain techniques the atomic bomb, the information crepuscular dawn correspond to three revolutions R=GA (purine). Revolution of transportations Y=TC (pyrimidine) supersonic speeds. K=GT (keto) Revolution of Transmissions a DNA fragment into a vector and the speed of electromagnetic waves host for propagation. Tele=operation to enable indefinitely transmission inside the body by means of cell line produced from the intra-organic transplants. To produce anti-bodies, to lymphocyte in an auditorium filled with H=ACT (all but G) won’t see this operation. V=GCA (all but T) there’s a reason for that… N=AGCT (any) no medical value. No one it originally was or if it personally I think it was pure the beginning.
The following text is an excerpt from a longer text which attempts to provide a theoretical map of the objects and processes that emerge from the hybridisation of philosophy and painting within the context of 21st century visual culture. While the dominant trends in philosophy have been based on the subject – mind correlate, whether through phenomenology or post-modernism, so too has painting had its own dominating format, through representation filtered by performed allusions to the real. As philosophy has retreated from any attempt to conceive of a world outside of its relation with human thought, so too has representational painting neglected the possibility of a ‘reality’ untainted by new systems of visual technology. Instead of these dominant forms within philosophy and painting, this theoretical map will draw on new formulations from the topography of ‘speculative realism’ and ‘painting through abstraction’. It is my belief that the objects and processes defined within the speculative turn in realist philosophy can be seen to exist within recent objects and processes of painting through abstraction. It is also my belief that these objects and processes enable the hybridisation of philosophy and painting to evolve towards a speculative form of aesthetics where autopoietic assemblages engage in relations and agency outside of human consciousness and intentionality. The aesthetic experience that flows from these emergent systems is ultimately a mapping of the contours of ‘a speculative abstract sublime’.
Philosophical realism and the legacies of modernist abstraction both have historical resonance and have taken on many varied forms throughout their development. I will define the specific versions of these historical, epistemological systems shortly. Firstly, however, it will be important to outline why these breeds of philosophy and art history have a valid relation for investigation in the context of contemporary abstract painting practice. At the core of philosophical realism and within the legacy of modernist abstraction as well as within the relation formed by the two, there is the formation of a dialectically connected, dynamic yet contradictory set of qualities. As we will see below, philosophical realism posits a non-human world outside of the familiar anthropomorphizing at work in the human minds construction of the world. Central to the claim of the existence of a non-human world outside the human – world relation, we encounter the obstacle that if we think of a world, outside our thought we automatically generate human subjectivity as the basis of this non-human place we originally imagined. Presumably we cannot escape the automatic humanizing procedures of thought, and as a result to claim the existence of a world beyond the man-made, we must employ a dialectical method of investigation (Harman, 2005). With this dialectical realism in mind, we can also explore the dialectical nature of the ‘legacies of modernist abstraction’. Modernist Abstraction claimed a world of art objects that re-presented a purity of expression that was autonomous from historical conditions, that tapped into the underlying order of nature and that favored form over content (Shapiro, 2011, p.2). However, as these symptoms of abstract modernism evolved, they became understood more for their own failure rather than their enduring success.
Capturing pure form in painting and seeing it as outside of historical time were rejected on the same basis as the rejection of philosophical realism. The legacies of modernist abstraction became associated with the impossibilities of its claims to escape classical representation, just as realism had failed to escape the ball and chain of subjective access. Furthermore, if realism has the focus of delving into ‘reality’ separate from human consciousness and understanding processes or things in the world, then why is it appropriate for understanding or creating contemporary art? Why do we not look at mountains or frogs, instead of painting and sculpture in order to further our realist objectives? Why are objects that are clearly generated by human consciousness relevant for a philosophy where the emphasis is on avoiding the presence of that same human mind?
My response to this concern arises from within the specificity of the ‘legacy of modernist abstraction’. As we have seen this legacy provides an inherent dialectical quality that can be seen as equally appropriate to the aims of philosophical realism. This dialectic is the inability to represent absolutes – because to represent is to make relative, to place in context with the conditions of representation (Lyotard, 1982, p.6). This inability to represent absolutes will re-occur, in later posts, as I attempt to unpack speculative realism in Quentin Meillassoux’s idea of correlationism and the ontologies Manuel DeLanda and Graham Harman. However, in the context of abstract art, we can turn to Jean Francois Lyotard, who points out, that even though we cannot represent any absolute, we can still demonstrate that the absolute exists. We can demonstrate this through negative representation (Lyotard, 1982, p.6). This ‘negative representation’ emerges from the Kantian notion of the sublime and transformed into  ‘abstraction’ by Lyotard where in its legacy it continues to grasp at the allusions to the invisible within the visual (Lyotard,1982, p.7). Abstraction in painting is seen as an attempt to re-present something that is ultimately unrepresentable. We can never grasp the absolutes.  Likewise, within philosophy, the dominant schools of thought are represented within the correlationist mindset, but as Meillassoux will show we can still pursue the processes, objects and systems outside subjectivity, given his arguments of ancestrality and absolute contingency. We may not be close to grasping the full meaning of objects or the underlining structure of emergent systems, but we can continue to pursue them through the revealing of historically accumulated strata that create the withdrawn objects we encounter today. The attempted grasping at the ‘unknowingness of being’ or ‘abstract sublime’ is primarily mediated by metaphoric speculation. It is this ‘metaphoric speculation’ towards the sublime that I believe is present in contemporary painting through abstraction as well as within the speculative turn in realist philosophy. The power of metaphor is also bolstered when placed within a context of aesthetic experience, which, as we will encounter in Graham Harman’s object-oriented philosophy, is a potential avenue to the real.
Within the context of legacies of abstraction, the unknowingness of being is referred to as ‘an abstract sublime’. This is a term coined in the mid twentieth century by art critic Robert Rosenblum. It represents an abstract visual language in modernism in relation to the concept of the sublime in philosophy. For Rosenblum the ‘Abstract Sublime’ is the evocation in painting of the personal feelings and emotions of abstract expressionists such as Rothko, Newman and Pollock. ‘The awesomely simple mysteries’ evoked by works that spoke through a new vocabulary of geometry, was for Rosenblum and Newman, who also wrote on the sublime, a new revised version of the ‘sublime’ as abstract. Coupled with the collapse of modernist representation and the desire of the abstract expressionists to destroy beauty, the abstract sublime evokes the awareness of the historical notion of the sublime but also the inability of the systems of representation to truly capture that, which exceeds our comprehension. The legacies of modernist abstraction also encapsulate, as representation did before it, a failed project. The abstract has become the aesthetic frame through which we envision the sublime, however impossible this actually is.
As Tim Morton has pointed out in an article entitled ‘Sublime Objects’, historical notions of the sublime are firmly situated within the human conception of being and are not an attempt to formulate a non-human abstract sublime. Instead, Morton refers to the sublime of Longinus, a very early text, ‘On The Sublime’ which equates the sublime with ‘the physical intrusion of an alien presence’ (Morton, 2011, p.220). For Longinus, this alien presence would have been God, however for Morton the idea of an unknown alien presence as oppose to the presence of God is more fitting for a contemporary realist theory of the sublime. Morton’s Longinian sublime, is a ‘speculative sublime’ that grants a kind of intimacy with real entities (Morton, 2011, p.219) and as we will see later on, this type of sublime is the basis for the context of relations from which emerges the aesthetic experience (Morton, 2011, p.217).
This interpretation of the sublime as both abstract and speculative – incorporating systems that far exceed human understanding, and which are ultimately unreadable but yet allow us a strange kind of intimacy mediated by some non-human presence is a sublime that may account for an overlap between abstraction in painting and realism in philosophy. However it is only through a step back into the correlation, through the appropriation of metaphor that we can hope to propel our conception of the abstract sublime toward the non-human.
The focus of this blog/project is to open a strain of enquiry between the processes and objects of contemporary abstract painting incorporating its historical legacies and the neo-materialist and speculative realist turn in post-continental philosophy. The key research areas are as follows;
-       Contemporary abstract painting processes and objects that emerge from the legacy of Modernist abstraction (autonomy, medium specificity, mathematical geometry, historical/cosmological time, strategy of failure/collapse).
-       The Speculative Realist turn in post-continental philosophy, with specific focus on Manuel DeLanda’s ‘neo-materialist’ reading of Deleuze and Guattari and Graham Harman’s Object oriented ontology and claim of ‘aesthetics as first philosophy’.
-       Theoretical, literary and fictional methodologies will aid the formation of relations between abstract painting and post-continental philosophy.
The object of my research will be the processes (practices) and objects (artworks) of contemporary abstract painting informing a theory of art as a philosophising of the non-human world. Through the emergence of a dual framework of post-continental philosophy and contemporary painting practice based on the legacy of modernist abstraction, I will explore painting through abstraction and the autonomous medium specificity as it performs as a ‘philosophical diagram’ towards an immanent philosophy of complexity, emergence and autopoiesis in human and non-human systems.
In the context of painting as philosophising, I will read the legacy of modernist abstraction through Robert Smithson, Jean Francois Lyotard and Liam Gillick. This is a legacy where the collapse of form is conceived of as ‘entropic innovation’ (Smithson), as the failed attempts to re-present the unpresentable (Lyotard), or the abstract as failed representations of impossibilities (Gillick), formulates a theory of abstract painting as the continued attempt to map the non-human world, only to fall short and to continually re-present these attempts.
The value of an unreadable language of visual abstraction that emerges from abstract painting was a strategy that could never truly re-present what Merleau-Ponty referred to as ‘the discovery of the logos of the life-world’. However, for Lyotard, the inevitable failure of a strategy to re-present the unpresentable, encapsulated in the work of Cezanne, Newman and Pollock among many others, still maintained credibility not as painting on an ontic level but instead on a level of philosophical or ontological interrogation into the existence of primordial reality, before matter-energy has been formatted with linguistic, conceptual and psychological correlations.
A formative connection between abstract painting and philosophy emerges in ‘Francis Bacon: Logic of Sensation’, where the author Gilles Deleuze characterises abstract painting as the conversion and translation of data into ‘digital codification’. This characterisation is opposed to the historical painting, considered ‘an analogical art’. Deleuze points out, paradoxically that the object of this digital codification is the analogical and hence abstract painting is the digital expression of the analogical. However, this digitization is not a coded formula but a diagrammatic accident. The diagram ‘imposes a zone of objective indeterminability between two forms’, with its essential function to allow for the emergence of something from it, and if nothing emerges from it, it fails’. Deleuze’s use of ‘the diagrammatic accident’ performs an assemblage with the legacy of modernist abstraction and the recent ‘neo-materialism’ interpretation of Deleuzian philosophy by Manuel DeLanda.

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