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INFLeXions No. 1- How is Research-Creation? (May 2008)

Creative Propositions for Thought in Motion by Erin Manning
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Prelude: Thought in Motion

Amanda Bagg’s video, In My Language (2007) opens to a woman swaying, her back to the camera [1]. As we watch her hands move, we hear their movement through the sound – a tonal singing – of Amanda’s voice.  What begins as a voice becomes singing hands that roam through the space, creating it in their passing. Flighty, these hands explore the intense movement of a string, shifting from the string to the infinity of textures that populate the room, the voice always in tandem with the becoming-textural of space.  From string to surface to computer bag, the hands play the space. As the hands move, they seem to modulate the voice in a becoming-environmental of sound. Object-voice sonorities are created in tandem with the discovery of the environment’s layers of experiential potential. Accompanying Amanda’s slow dance of feeling, we experience the spacetime of the becoming-environment’s dense affective tone. The shots are long and languid, their slowness rich with the eventfulness of sensation-in-the-making.

Amanda Baggs approaches not objects but their relational potential. No object is taken simply for what it seems to be: each object modulates the resonance of the voice, moving its own movement in tandem with the environment moving. In an oversensory multiplication of becoming-events, we watch as the shot shifts from a frenzy of shaking paper to a dizzying close-up of a round knob, fingers circling it, the image itself twirling as though caught in its own momentum, Amanda’s body losing itself in a book, her face smelling its pages, the texture of the paper grazing her skin, feeling, rocking, smelling, rocking, touching. Through each encounter with the emergent environment, a new relation is born.

The second part of In My Language, “My Translation,” is not a simple recasting of Amanda Bagg’s world through language. It is a complex layering of potential experience that continually shifts between the plane of thought/feeling and the plane of articulation.  This second part is a transduction of the first: it brings the plane of feeling into the plane of articulation, calling forth the more-than of language’s expressibility.

Throughout Part II, as Amanda Baggs attempts to place language within her complex multisensory environment, she continues to create relational encounters that render the linguistic space more intricate than words could simply connote. She speaks, but she also rocks, smells, touches, tastes, observes, feeling the environment. There is something about Bagg’s experience that we’ll never know, because to know it is to feel it. Communication through language will always fall short. Yet language is able to convey a certain complexity of the concepts at work, bridging the worlds such that a dialogue between worlds-in-the-making can begin. In “My Translation” what Amanda Baggs does is begin to teach us how to articulate felt thought.

Amanda’s finger plays in the stream of running water. She begins to speak – her speech articulated by a voice synthesizer: “In this part of the video, the water doesn’t symbolize anything. I am just interacting with the water as the water interacts with me.” Language does not replace the sensual exploration of the relational environment: it moves with it, becoming one more technique of rendering. For Baggs, communication through language remains inadequate to the singular experiences of sensation the world calls forth.  Language cannot fully express experience’s complexity. Her “translation” must therefore evoke more than the manifestation of words. It must transduce the event of language’s becoming-sensation. Language is a simplification of the complexity of the emergent environment that is the world and yet it is also layered with the affective tones of the experiences it relates.  Amanda Baggs does not open her translation to the affective potential of language, and yet she makes its potential felt by expressing the world’s relational emergence in tandem with her linguistic evocation of her felt-world.

For Amanda Baggs, creating relational nexuses means feeling the world at the incipience of its sensory becoming. This feeling is a form of thought. Articulation of that thought implies restricting the complexity of the thought’s pre-articulation to a content-based structure of expression. She resists this simplification, opting not against language, but for relational complexity. Baggs’ explains: “Far from being purposeless, the way that I move is an ongoing response to what is around me. Ironically, the way that I move when responding to everything around me is described as “being in a world of my own,” whereas if I interact with a much more limited set of responses and only react to a much more limited part of my surroundings people claim that I am ‘opening up to true interaction with the world.’”

In My Language foregrounds the sensory experience of thought’s imminent pre-articulation. It feels the world, thinking it, rather than simply speaking of it. “But my language is not about designing words or even visual symbols for people to interpret. It is about being in a constant conversation with every aspect of my environment, reacting physically to all parts of my surroundings.”

Amanda Baggs articulates felt thought. To articulate thinking-feeling is to activate the conceptual at work in the pre-articulation of the experiential. To bring concepts to life rather than simply the contours of things is the first step in expressing the force of a relational environment. Bringing potential relations into actual experience is, as Baggs notes, “a way of thinking in its own right.” Thought is more-than a form-taking of words, it is also an incipience that proposes articulation through sensation. Thought is a proposition for feeling-in-motion. Thought is experience’s complex instigator, a force that operates at the relational cusp of becoming-events.

Amanda writes: "A lot of the way I naturally communicate is just through direct response to what is around me in a very physical sort of way. It's dealing with patterns and colors rather than with symbolic words." Thought in motion is a creative proposition for thought at work.



Edit from Within!

Thought pulls pre-articulations from the complex nexus which is the world in motion. The world in motion is made up of planes of experience. The passage from the plane of sensation to the plane of articulation, a movement toward the actual from the virtual stratum, depends on thought’s capacity to extract from the virtual chaos of experience’s potential unfolding. This extraction is a kind of editing of the nexus.

For Tarkovsky, editing is immanent to the flow of audio-images which make up the film as captured on camera. Editing is not something you impose onto the work: it is a pulling out or prehension of the rhythms already virtually present in the work. Editing foregrounds the backgrounded rhythm of the work.

Rhythm is pre-articulated feeling in motion. Feeling in motion is thought pre-articulated. Editing with these virtual tendencies already immanent to the images taking form culls thought from within the work’s own process, articulating it as movement-images, time-images. These images do not simply represent the movement of the image; they move images, intensifying the felt aspect of spacetime. They articulate the film's movement. The plane of composition through which articulation emerges is populated by the thought of the work, its inner rhythm.  Deleuze and Guattari call this inner rhythm a “block of sensation.” “We paint, sculpt, compose, and write with sensations” (1994: 166). Blocks of sensation are forces that compose the work’s durational attitude. To edit-with is to sculpt the work’s taking-form, to capture the imminent networks of forces which make up the becoming-work. “By means of the material, the aim of art is […] to extract a block of sensations, a pure being of sensation” (1994: 167). What is composed is more than the work’s actual articulation. Editing-with composes with the work's pre-articulated virtuality. It layers the articulated strata of the work, directing the work’s force such that its virtual effects are felt within its actual composition.  Every articulation – shot, canvas, score, sentence – holds within its material stratum a potential for becoming. This virtual fact is a force at work. Cinematic editing with this force in mind creates an image that makes spacetime felt. Movement is foregrounded not as displacement, but as felt intensity.  Rhythm is the emergent quality of felt intensity, a moving-toward of duration itself.

Editing from within sculpts the film’s becoming in time. Tarkovsky writes: “Editing brings together shots which are already filled with time, and organizes the unified, living structure inherent in the film, and the time that pulsates through the blood vessels of the film, making it alive, is of varying rhythmic pressure.” (1987: 114). Sculpting time means creating time from within the work’s own composition.

“Parts come together because of a propensity inherent in the material” (Tarkovsky 1987: 117). Sculpting in time is not placing parts together to make a whole. This would suggest a process of construction where the parts would pre-exist the whole. The whole is the film's virtual strata, its durational attitude.  Sculpting in time pulls intensities from this durational process, creating resonant sculptures of spacetime. “The novel entity is at once the togetherness of the ‘many’ which it finds, and also it is one among the disjunctive ‘many’ which it leaves. The many become one, and are increased by one” (Whitehead 1934: 21).  Editing from within involves composing with the work's own process of taking-form, finalizing the cut in time with its virtual potential through time. At best, what is actually seen is felt as more-than. In such cases, the film becomes a complex surface of pre-articulations. Editing from within gives virtual resonance to the images, foregrounding their incipience within the becoming-whole of the film.

“Editing has to do with stretches of time, and the degree of intensity with which these exist, as recorded by the camera; not with abstract symbols... but with the diversity of life perceived” (Tarkovsky 1987: 119). Editing from within plays with thought in motion, emphasizing the rhythmic pulsations that make the film’s inner duration felt. “There is rhythm whenever there is a transcoded passage from one milieu to another, a communication of milieus, coordination between heterogeneous space-times.” (1987: 313). Transcoding foregrounds the layers of duration within the film’s experiential whole.   It seeks to create spacetime, not simply reproduce it. “Rhythm is determined not by the length of the edited pieces, but by the pressure of the time that runs through them” (Tarkovsky 1987: 117). Editing from within is rhythmic editing that foregrounds the time-pressure inherent in the composition. Time-pressure is a block of sensation, the force of a transformation that brings the material stratum’s virtual potential to life.


Become World!

Forces direct the composition of the work. In painting, Bacon refers to patterns of force as diagrams. Diagrams cannot be defined as such; they are felt only in their effects. They virtually resonate within actualised work. Diagrams recompose sensation, collecting the intensity of rhythm and propelling it toward a becoming-work of the work. Bacon speaks of diagrams as “orders of sensation,” “levels of feeling”, “areas of sensation,” “shifting sequences” each of them conceived as different orders of a singular block of sensation. Deleuze and Guattari call these blocks “refrains,” internally ordered shifting rhythms that force worlds into appearance. The refrain is rhythm and melody actively recomposing into a territoriality that becomes a work, a gesticulation, an iteration. It is territorial because it is expressive of a singular spacetime, yet metastable, expressive always in a dance of modulation. 

Think the diagram as a territory beyond representation. Representation solidifies the imaginary of pre-existent worlds and asks the work to fit within their borders.  Diagrams resist borders, activating tendencies of becoming-form and incipient-figure. The force of the work is felt in its diagram. Think the diagram as a landing site you cannot quite define, a site you feel more than you see, a focal point through which the work organises itself in a refrain of infinite unfolding. Diagrams create intensive networks that make the work resonate.

Don't mistake the diagram as the work. The diagram makes the work work, but is not the work. It's the work's intensive force, the force of its future-past in the presentness of experience.

Diagrams foreground the work’s elastic points, its tendencies. They invent with the future of the work's becoming. Diagrams make the elasticity of the almost felt, exfoliating the work's potential across its shifting surface. Diagrams move the work, inviting the conceptual escape of “the action of invisible forces on the body” (Deleuze 2003:36). Diagrams rhythmically call forth the relation artwork-world.


“Value! Don’t Evaluate!”

Valuation is an orientation that makes the work matter in certain definite ways.  How the event is integrated onto the nexus is determined by its valuation. Valuation is integral to the process of an actual occasion taking form, but is felt as such only in the event’s final satisfaction. With this satisfaction comes an inclination toward determinate expression. The process of valuation self-selects tendencially, leading the event toward certain areas of potential on the work-world nexus. Each valuation thus adds a singular resonance to the nexus and becomes a potential for other actual occasions. A valuation inflects novelty into the world.

Nietzsche implores, “Value! Don’t evaluate!”  He situates value as a differential vector in the process of creation. Do not stray too far outside the work, he warns. Do not wait for evaluation to value the work. Feel the work’s impulse - dance its becoming-form! Remember that the will to power is force acting on force! Think value as a mechanism for the extrusion of the qualities of force throughout the process of force taking form.

Work with the genealogy of the process, “the differential element of values from which their value itself derives” (Deleuze 1983: 2). Valuation is an immanent process that situates the work’s final form in a relational attitude toward the world.

Valuation is not evaluation, which happens from the outside as the undoing of the work’s process. Value is immanent critique expressive of the work’s potential. A work’s value is the way in which it expresses relationality.

Lygia Clark’s relational objects create worlds: this is how their value is felt. These objects – plastic bags filled with breath, nets with stones in them – are of little artistic value in and of themselves. The value of Lygia Clark’s relational objects is not expressed in their capacity to stand alone. It is felt in the emergent qualities that their coupling with bodies- in-relation brings forth. Their value lies in how the forces of potential express themselves through relational movement toward the world. Their value cannot be detached from the process’s enabling constraints. Their value is how the process determines its potential for taking-form.

Value is a feeling-with, a force for articulation, the potential for degrees of difference. For Nietzsche “evaluations […] are not values but ways of being, modes of existence of those who judge and evaluate, serving as principles for the values on the basis of which they judge” (in Deleuze 1983: 1). To value is to make relational potential the subject of enquiry, rather than evaluating a stand-alone object as separate from the work-world nexus.  A work's value depends on how it moves the relation.


Lure the Feeling!

Becoming-bodies feel-with the world.  Feeling-with is not without thought. It is a force of thought. Don’t mistake feeling with emotion. Emotion is the description of an affect, feeling is its force. Affective tone is an environmental resonance of a feeling-in-action, a vibratile force that makes the milieu felt. Feeling is a pulsion to think, and thinking is a pulsion to feel. Thought feels the prospect for concepts within processes that becomes work. Feeling is a rigorous sensitivity that situates thought in the world: thought becomes affective. Affect bleeds into the work; it bleeds the work, activating its complexities. The work becomes a thinking-feeling. Working at the threshold of thought and creation provokes an aperture for that which has not been thought. Thought is a lure for feeling that pre-articulates the virtual inflexions of a becoming-work. 

For Whitehead, a feeling is urgency, a pulsion. Feeling the world means actualizing its potential affectively. Feeling transduces thoughts into becoming-concepts. On the plane of feeling, there are both determinations and appetitions. When an event takes form, it moves from indetermination towards terminal determination. Its determination is its actual form. It indetermination is its appetition: its openness for conceptual invention.

Conceptual feelings take form in the milieu of appetition. They are a propensity beyond form-taking that propel novelty into the world. When the force of feeling merges with the appetition for conceptual invention, a work-world intervention emerges that exposes the work’s potential beyond its final determination. 

It is not the subject that is inventive, but the process itself. A feeling does not belong to me – it moves through me, creating me in the process. The form-taking of the work is the work’s becoming-fulfilled as such. This is the work’s moment of full appearance in the actual world. As the work reaches this apex, it feels the world forming the afterthought of a subject. This afterthought of a subject is what Whitehead calls a superject.

One work can have many dynamic forms, many concepts, many feelings or thoughts. There is no single point of identity for a work. The only time the work stops working is when you make yourself the subject of the work. The work’s subject is its dynamic form, its valuation, its conceptual resonance, its diagram. Don’t make subjectivity the subject of creation!  Holding to the subject as creative motor stabilizes the forces of becoming.  Be careful, says Nietzsche: curtailing the process of becoming invites reactive force. Reactivity wills the framing of the self as subject, holding the work to its own self-image, to a simulacrum of what it already was. The result: the work never invents beyond the subject’s own process of self-completion.

A feeling is essentially a transition effecting a concrescence” (Whitehead 1978: 2      20), concrescence is the process of force taking form.
The process of concrescence is divisible into an initial stage of many feelings, and a succession of subsequent phases of more complex feelings integrating the earlier simpler feelings, up to the satisfaction which is one complex unity of feeling. The same entity, be it actual entity or be it eternal object, cannot be felt twice in the formal constitution of one concrescence (Whitehead 1978: 220-221).

Thought felt is feeling in motion, a divisible indivisibility on its way to final form. A thinking feeling is an appetite for experimentation.


Know Not What a Body Can Do!

Spinoza says we know not what a body can do. Feeling creates rhythmic or vibratile bodies. To feel is to vibrate thought. Feeling incites concrescence. It wills the activity of becoming. Feeling is power’s “compulsion of composition” (Whitehead 1978b: 119). This compulsion to compose is an aesthetic drive, a will toward sensation, a will to power. The will to power is not about individual power. The will to power activates the potential of a force to move a body to its limit. Power is a lure for feeling. Before Nietzsche called it the “will to power”, he called it the “feeling of power.”

Ask of the creative process that it foreground the activity of creating concepts, that it will these concepts out of the matter-form itself, that it mould the activity of process into a becoming-body of invention. Ask of the process that it value its own becoming, that it open thought and sensation beyond the actuality of what the work appears to be. Provoke sensing bodies in movement, will the forces of transmutation such that a new body (of work) emerges!

The will to power makes force felt. Felt force is a concept-in-waiting. There is no subject to the will to power, no outside criteria that forces. Force propulses a will toward the creation of a dynamic form, opening feeling to its activation, generating becoming-bodies in its passing. A society emerges. For Whitehead all bodies are societies, conglomerations of forces and potentials and tendencies.

The will to power feels the force of the world. The will to power worlds. To think the will to power, a radically empiricist stance is necessary: the will to power is neither a thing in itself or the activity of a subject. The will to power is concerned with the relation that constitutes the becoming-object’s propensity for worlding. The will works on the points of inflexion that alter the perspectives of our becoming-worlds. Points of inflexion are elastic points that unbalance the form-taking of a movement and open it to an infinity of flux. This infinity is not good or evil – it is the durational plane where force acts against force, propulsing the taking-form of an event.  Points of inflexion operate on the plane of composition which is the nexus where the forces of becoming congregate. How curves curve and where their elastic point takes (makes) form is not a moral issue. The will to power wills a force for the future, a lived potential for transmutation.

To feel power is to feel force, to be captivated by force and to capture that captivation. Will to power feels inner dynamism and moves it into actualization through a concrescence that makes new parameters for thought felt. It is only after the fact that the active necessity of the feeling’s plane of composition – the superject – takes form. This taking form is less the formation of a concrete identity than the culmination and residue of a process. To posit a subject for the feeling means engaging with the creative from outside. This is an evaluative strategy, a reactive interruption of the process. Reactivity dulls force, stalling its potential for transformation.

Creativity moves worlds, taking form in the superjection of their force. The final cause of a feeling is the beginning of a society, a complex aggregate of forces and tendencies. Every force of creativity modulates the bodies in its midst. Creativity inspires novelty. Invent with feeling!


Create with Concepts!

The nexus is active with transmutations. The concept is one of the enabling constraints that propulses tendencies of self-formation into aggregates of becoming-work. Concepts are aspects of a creative process already active in the imminence of thought that can force the work to take form.  Moving beyond fixed meaning, concepts gather and articulate the intensity that transduces the creative process from work to world.

To work with a concept is to explore what makes the work work. What makes it work cannot be defined according to categories of judgment. Judgment is a theory of coherence “concerned with a conformity of two components within one experience” (Whitehead 1978: 191). The concept does not judge or evaluate the work; it values its rhythmic pressure, making time for the work on the work-world nexus.

The concept is a gear-shift mechanism that acts on blocks of sensation, oscillating between thought and articulation. It pulsates between actual and virtual realms. On the virtual strata, they propel the becoming-event of thought: they feel its force. On the plane of composition, concepts articulate the dynamic form of the becoming-work: they express the feeling of its force. Thought is immanent to the work even as the work itself is immanent to the forces through which its concept concresces.

The work works when its concept becomes a force for future experimentation.


Make Multiple Sense!

“There is no event, no phenomenon, word or thought which does not have multiple sense… A thing has as many senses as there are forces capable of taking possession of it” (Deleuze 1993: 4). For Lygia Clark, working with a relational object does not mean forcing the body to make sense of it. This would assume a pre-existent body that already knows what it means to sense. Clark’s creative process invites bodies-in-the-making to feel the force of multiple sense, to relate across modalities of force taking form toward the transversal amodality of sense in the indefinite. Clark calls this research. Making multiple sense is research-creation at work.

To sense the force of an artwork is to create with feeling.  It is to move-with the force that is the virtual plurality of each incipient event. Nietzsche calls this the silent plurality of senses. Here, forces work imperceptibly, and yet their virtual pre-articulation can be felt. What we feel is the violence of the forces’ struggle for valuation within the work.  Their will to power activates this rhythmic pulsation. This is a fight to the death. The struggle of creative exploration is always a borrowing, a stealing, an overdetermining of other forces. Not all forces can be contained. “The sense of something is its relation to the force which takes possession of it, the value of something is the hierarchy of forces which are expressed in it as a complex phenomenon” (Deleuze 1993: 8).

The effects of force acting on a becoming-body of work are sometimes felt as the impossible dizziness of beginnings, the arduousness of gathering the work into its opening gesture. To make multiple sense is to attend to this nausea, to feel-with its form-taking and invent with the elasticity of its becoming.

Writing need not be straightforward documentation of this process. Writing can work at the level of thought-feeling, catching up with the work’s own metamorphosis, with the rhythmic exfoliation that creates spacetimes of experience. Write to create concepts!


Affirm All that Appears!

What appears, for Whitehead, is what is pulled forth from the nexus. To create is to work with appearance such that appearance affirms not only its actuality, but its virtual potential.  For all appearance is more than what it seems, and yet really only what it is. This means that what is created must at once be real and an aspect of the real. This paradoxical schism between reality and appearance can be understood as the difference between what we actually perceive, and what populates our perception virtually. Reality is all which has existed, which has been felt. Appearance is what is felt in the conjunction of the future-present as it is imbued with pastness but devoid of it in actuality. To feel the real within the actual is to work with the forces of the real within appearance. It is to affirm these forces in the double-gesture of working in the future-past. To sense is to feel more than the actual sense, to multiple-sense the pastness of the not-yet that has been. The stimulation of the actual by the virtual creates tendencies toward incipient novelty that can be felt in the work. These are silent concepts active in the becoming-affective of the piece. To create a work that emerges as a complex whole requires an aliveness of this virtuality within the work’s actual appearance.

To affirm what appears is to foreground the relation’s affective resonance. It is to situate the work in a differential field. This is a radical empiricist attitude. The work of the work is its relational potential. We quickly grow weary of the object. We must affirm the relation as that which keeps the object alive.


Play the Differential!

“What a will wants is to affirm its difference” (Deleuze 1993: 9). Affirming difference is moving-with the multiplicity which is “the essential transformation and constant symptom of unity” (Deleuze 1993: 24).

The differential cuts into experience, exposing it to its potential. As a vector of transformation, the differential forces the work into the now-ness of its actualization. The production of the now is the necessity – what Nietzsche calls destiny – of the event that is the work in progress. For the event to take place, unity must be actualized. Yet this unity must also expose the virtual effects out of which appearance is composed. The eventness of a work stimulated by a differential cut is the oneness of its infinite multiplicity. The differential never produces wholes. It creates singularities that are always both one and many.

For Nietzsche, chance functions as the differential. Chance beckons necessity, “necessity is affirmed of chance in exactly the sense that being is affirmed of becoming and unity is affirmed of multiplicity” (Deleuze 1993: 26). Necessity propels the singular taking-form of the work, separating the work at hand from its infinite potentiality. “To know how to affirm chance is to know how to play” (Nietzsche in Deleuze 1993: 26).

No relativism here. There is no work without the event of its taking form. How it takes form depends on how you play the differential. “To abolish chance by holding it in the group of causality and finality, to count on the repetition of throws rather than affirming chance, to anticipate a result instead of affirming necessity – these are the operations of a bad player” (Deleuze 1993: 27). Feel the constitutive necessity of the work’s singularity. Play with the forces taking form.



Radical empiricism is a speculative engagement with process that takes relation as its field of enquiry. The relation emerges differently in different contexts. Relations are conjunctive, disjunctive, the point where everything begins to fall apart and the incipience field of individuation. Moving the relation is to move with the force of incipient form.  Speculation is the process that transforms incipient individuation into movements of thought.
Research-creation studies the forces at work in the tendencies of attraction between vibratile bodies. These forces make or break unity, coalescing thoughts into pre-articulations and conceptual feelings which alter the affective tone of the work. 
Radical empiricism asks the whatness of the work to emerge relationally. “And this whatness is empirical ‘content’, just as the whatness of separation and discontinuity is real content in the contrasted case” (James 1912: 49). Radical empiricism begins in the middle (le milieu), creating an environment for experimentation.
Speculation moves thought toward the activity of concept formation. It values this process, working from the textures of the work-world relation rather than from the distinctness of the object as such. “Knowledge of sensible realities…comes to life inside the tissue of experience. “It is made; and made by relations that unroll themselves in time” (James 1912: 57). Speculation is a technique for the invention of new textures of knowledge.


Engage Relations of Tension!

Begin with the terminus. The terminus is not an end-point but the energy of a beginning. The terminus kick-starts the process. There is no causal finitude here: we never know what becomes of a beginning. The directionality we have ‘in mind’ is a relation of tension, a movement-toward that makes us think, always more than a goal. The terminus forces thought toward articulation.
Thinking-with or feeling the terminus as the impetus for creation means fiercely engaging the conjunctively transitional experience that forces the work into its inception. No event without a propensity. The terminus is a momentum, an in-gathering, not a content or final cause.
“Whatever terminates that chain was, because it now proves itself to be, what the concept ‘had in mind’” (James 1912: 58). The terminus is not what you think you knew. It’s the movement of thought pulled forth from the relations of tension that make up the work. The work values the terminus as an in-gathering of potential for form-taking. Through the terminus as a force of its activity on the world-work nexus, the work propels itself toward a directionality, which is never where you thought it would be.

Make the relation felt!

Thought is of the relation, active in the movement-toward of the work’s taking-form. The work’s taking-form is the pulling-out of a concept from the activity of feeling that propels the work. Lodged neither in the human nor in the object, thought propels creativity as the activity of the in-between that makes relation felt, activating the “how” of the creation, inciting inquiry, curiosity, play.

Moving the relation is the work of radical empiricism. Begin with the interval and admit it into experience. Rethink what counts as art, as practice, as thought, as writing, as politics. The relation is as real as anything else – it is the associated milieu through which all else comes into contact. Relation is the incipient activating force through which the work-world nexus emerges.

By prescribing an evaluative apparatus as a grid of explanation, you’ve killed the relation, imposed the final constraints, ended the process.

Create Degrees of Intimacy!

“Relations are of different degrees of intimacy” (James 1912: 44).  Radical empiricism makes movement the subject of the work. To move thought is to be moved by thought. To be moved by thought is to feel the movement of the relation that activates the responsive environment that is world. This becoming-world is populated by degrees of intimacy, activated in the interval work-world. Radical empiricism works with the metastability of the relation, asking what an associated milieu can do.
Tendencies toward becoming propel change, rejigging the system, altering its causal order. What is felt is not an object as such – a body, a work of art – but the vector character of all experience.
Degrees of intimacy modulate the process, tweaking it toward new movements of thought. These thoughts can take form in writing, but first they are techniques. Techniques of relation, movements of thought are thinkings-with as much as thinkings-about. Movements of thought invite concepts to take form.  Concepts in turn populate the work in degrees of intimacy, moving the work’s potential articulations toward future formations.


Lygia Clark makes propositions. “Structure the self!” “Move!” “Heal together!” Propositions are thoughts in motion. A proposition is a lure for concept formation, an alliance that forces the relational taking-form of a work in progress.

Propositions oscillate between potential and actualization. “If by the decision of the concrescence, the proposition has been admitted into feeling, then the proposition constitutes what the feeling has felt” (Whitehead 1978: 186). Propositions constitute a “source for the origination of feeling which is not tied down to mere datum” (Whitehead 1978: 186). They are the articulated force of the feeling making its appearance.

For Whitehead, each occasion of experience is characterized by a flash of novelty. This flash is an appetition, a desire at work. Appetitions propel propositions. They strive to make feelings felt. Appetitions are theories in the making. These theories are not created after the fact: “The primary function of theories is a lure for feeling, thereby providing immediacy of enjoyment and purpose” (Whitehead 1978: 184).

A proposition is never a judgment. Nor is it necessarily true. It is a terminus-in-action. Focusing appetition on the transitional relation that makes the thought felt, a proposition cuts through the event, shifting the ground. For Lygia Clark, a proposition is the capacity for a potential to take relational form. “Nothing, in Clark’s propositions, was ever reducible to a concrete body, empirical or organic” (Rolnik 2005: 9). Propositions move the concept into action. But this movement is always on the cusp, and that’s how it alters the ground. “What I know now is that the body is more than the body,” writes Clark.

Propositions are a lure for feeling. By propulsing the event toward what it can do, propositions effect the concrescence of an actual occasion. They make the work work differently. They work from the work's differential. Assembling effects of relation across the nexus of actual occasions, propositions act as the pulling together of the stakes of research-creation. To create, in these terms, involves constituting what the feeling has felt. This is not just the case in the process of making art. Philosophy is creative whenever it writes not from the perspective of a subject-writing, but from the vantage point of a feeling creating. A feeling is never personal; it is a movement of thought, a quality of relation becoming-active, a force of will.

Propositions never attend solely to the datum. If you restrict them to a pre-formed body, a stand-alone object, they become judgments or evaluations. Don’t think you already know what a body can do. Lygia Clark’s propositions do not tell us what the object can do. They create enabling constraints for the opening of a relational process. Placing her objects in specific iterations of the world-world nexus – iterations called forth by the relations themselves – Clark asks the body-becoming to emerge differently each time. Clark does not make herself the subject of the work, she asks the relation to make itself felt. Her relational objects are propositions, constitutively incapable of knowing in advance what they can produce.

Transduce! Create Affinities of Purpose!

Without transduction, propositions have no force. Transduction is the unity of an event across its different phases, the processual sense of individuation across strata. Transduction creates affinities between levels of experience. A work becomes multiple as it changes not only its matter-form, but the quality of its process. Propositions provoke transductions. Not every relational object is evocative in every instance. New moulds are necessary, but also new forms of matter, and each material shape shifts into different affinities of purpose. “Dynamic osmosis” Lygia Clark would say.

Open the body to forces. Create new bodies. Think of writing as activism. Political art is not about content, it’s about participation. Turn collaboration into transduction. Work with affinities rather than subjects.

For Clark, knowing the world means paying attention to its corporeal reverberations, impregnating yourself with its silent forces, mixing with them, and from this fusion, reinventing the world and yourself, becoming other. “I am a researcher,” she writes. Her process of becoming-researcher is slow and rigorous, an exploration at each instance of invention of what a relational object can do. Becoming-researcher is becoming-artist.

Worlding creates affinities of purpose which can sometimes make us dizzy, taking us off balance, leading us in directions we may not want to follow. Affinities are eventful. They provoke transductions that surreptitiously alter what we thought we could think. Affinities are intensities of participatory recomposition.

Forget what you feel!

Forget! Feel again. If you seek to remember how you felt, you feel only the echo of a reminder. Don’t be nostalgic! It will only keep you where you never really were. Feel the future feeling! Return the return! “Return is the being of that which becomes. Return is the being of becoming itself, the being which is affirmed in becoming” (Deleuze 1993: 24).  Nietzsche’s spiral of becoming, the eternal return, propels propositions. Spiral into new beginnings! Activate the new!
Eternal return is both movement and cycle of time. Don’t be seduced into thinking time is linear. Time is the future past, the non-sensuous – the feeling of the past – overlapping with the sensuous – the feeling of the present.  Force activity into the past and you will feel nothing new. This is what Nietzsche calls ressentiment: the embedding of reactive forces in the will to power.
Difference and forgetting are co-constitutive. To feel differently, the form of the experience has to shift. The experience has to forget what it was. New forces result in new compositions, and new compositions call forth new articulations. “Every relationship of forces constitutes a body… This is why the body is always the fruit of chance” (Deleuze 1993: 40).

Return the return!

Become multiple! Do not Obey!
“Being composed of a plurality of irreducible forces, the body is a multiple phenomenon” (Deleuze 1993: 40). Active and reactive forces fight for dominion in the becoming-body. A body of work feels this fight and responds to it through submission, invention, experimentation, categorization. This is a fight between passivity and activity. The imposition of a pre-constituted theory onto a work threatens to make it passive. Evaluated from the outside, the risk is that the work will suffocate, dead to what it could still have become.
What a work can do, and how a process can write itself depends on how you activate the work’s potential. This potential is already active in the work’s tendencial diagram. The diagram, composed of active forces of creation, values the emergences of differential vistas of experimentation. But it is not the work's only potential. The work can also be subdued by reactive forces from the work's evaluative outside. Critics tend to will these forces into action. Criticizing a work according to the dictates of a putative outside rather than moving with it from within its own constraints puts you in the position of Nietzsche’s last men: after the fact, you will have learned nothing, moved nowhere. You will have reacted, resentfully. To act is to seek the quality of “whatness” in the work that is the more-than of its potential. It is to feel-with its propositions. Don’t stop the work in its tracks! Write the sequel!


Nothing happens on a pure continuum. Process in and for itself goes nowhere. Chance cuts the continuum into forces of necessity. This cut is a transvaluation of the work-world nexus. New processes are inflected with new differentials, new stakes, “the more you limit yourself, the more fertile you become in invention” (Irwin in Weschler 1982: 69). Think necessity as the constraining force on the plane of becoming.
Robert Irwin writes: “Just changing the line that one eighth of an inch changed the entire perceptual field” (Irwin in Weschler 1982:71). Transvaluation alters the field. Sitting in front of his canvas, Irwin watches as the painted line transduces his painting into the perception of a concept. The line becomes the transvaluation that opens his work to future thought.
It takes time to perceive the line’s necessity. Perception operates as the force of the line’s will. Robert Irwin wants to know how perception shifts the experiment, so he sits, watches, falls asleep, attends, tweaks, focuses, alternating between phases of attention and boredom. Transvaluation involves working with the process’s enabling constraints, asking what the process can do in light of what it has already done and what it never thought it could do. After sitting for hours, perceiving two lines on a uniform canvas, Irwin was shocked: “Two lines changed not only the composition but even the colour” (Irwin in Weschler 1982: 72).
We are never completely still. The plane of movement shifts from rest to activity, never stopping. Boredom is on the outer reaches of movement stilling. After sitting and looking for months, Irwin finds that boredom’s intensive movement can be a means for transvaluation, “I just attended to the circumstances” (Irwin in Weschler 1982:74).
Attending to the circumstances can keep reactive forces at bay. If you’re not sure how to move the relation, or how the relation moves you, wait. Allow the forces to express themselves. Active forces of transvaluation resist the resting place of the identical. Eternal return is transvaluation: a critique of a terminal or equilibrium state.

Pay Attention!

“When I look at the world now, my posture is not one of focus, but of attention” (Irwin in Weschler 1982: 81). Attend to the return: “That the present moment is not a moment of being or of present ‘in the strict sense’, that it is the passing moment, forces us to think of becoming, but to think of it precisely as what could not have started, and cannot finish, becoming” (Deleuze 1993: 48). Attention is short-lived – a half-second at most. It tends to be flighty, indeterminate. Focus holds attention to the determinate. 
“Returning is the being of that which becomes” (Nietzsche in Deleuze 1993: 48). Attention feels the return of the return. It produces a germ for thought. Focus is of a different order. Focus propels articulation. Attending to the interval between focus and attention means inviting thought’s virtual potential into the articulation of a concept. We attend, always, to the relation, distracted by it, and drawn to it. Attentive, we feel the forces of composition; focused, we pull them together. Attention backgrounds what focus can do.
“It is not the being that returns but rather the returning itself that constitutes being insofar as it is affirmed of becoming and of that which passes” (Deleuze 1993: 48). The return is a becoming-spiral. Thinking is always of the return. Attentive, you are never quite thinking the thought you thought you were. The flicker moves faster than thought's actualization. And yet the thought is virtually there, to be thought again, differently.
What moves as a body returns as a movement of thought. Attention moves the body, activates the force of thought, creating a becoming-body in its passing. These thoughts are immaterial, in the texture of the world’s becoming. They populate the nexus of the returning return.

Go to the Limit!

The will to power is the genealogical element of force. It is a feeling for power, a lure for feeling. “Chance is the bringing of forces into relation, the will to power is the determining principle of this relation” (Deleuze 1993: 53). Collective individuation is another term for this becoming-multiple of relational forces moving toward determination, indeterminately. The will to power values this process, actuating it in a becoming-present.

Thought is a force to contend with. Thought moves (with) the work, feeling the openings the work provokes. Going to the limit is its mantra, and this is hard work. The work not only speaks for itself, but it speaks “you,” sparking individuation in its process of becoming. Co-creation takes time, and it makes time, creating new and even more complex forces in its passing. There is no easy solution to the concrescence of the work, no pat ideology or theory, just experimentation.

Rigour is key. But not rigour as a practice situated at the outskirts of the creative process. Pay rigorous attention to the plane of becoming where feeling moves thought. Don’t be too quick to judge. Value the process as it takes form, and find the force of form in the transmutation of world-work.

Thought is the capacity to be affected. To be affected is to go to the limit of what a thought can do. “The philosopher creates concepts that are neither eternal nor historical but untimely and not of the present […] untimely at every epoch” (Deleuze 1993: 107). Thoughts are activities of relation that take time even as they make time, animated in the process of invention that is the activity of living.

“Thinking depends on forces which take hold of thought” (Deleuze 1993: 108). Thinking involves the microperceptions that are the virtual content of the not-yet out of which potential worlds are composed. Thinking exposes the overlappings of the actual and the virtual, their complex inadequation. Research-creation works at this in-between of immanence and actuality where multiplicities converge into affirmations. Creativity folds out of thought even as it proposes thought to itself. Thought is an untimely proposition.


1.  Amanda Baggs., 2007


Works Cited

Clark, Lygia. Lygia Clark: de l’oeuvre a l’événement – Nous sommes le moule. A vous de donner le souffle.  Nantes : Musée des beaux arts, 2005.

Deleuze, Gilles. Nietzsche and Philosophy. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson. New York: Columbia UP, 1983.

---. The Logic of Sensation. Trans. Daniel W Smith. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2003.

Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix. What is Philosophy. Trans. Graham Burchell and Hugh Tomlinson. London: Verso, 1994.

James, William Essays in Radical Empiricism. New York: Longman Green and Co, 1912.

Rolnik, Suely. « Enfin qu’y a-t’il derrière la chose corporelle » in Lygia Clark: de l’oeuvre a l’événement – Nous sommes le moule. A vous de donner le souffle.  Nantes : Musée des beaux arts, 2005.

Tarkovsky, Andrei. Sculpting in Time: The great Russian Filmmaker Discusses his Art NY: Knopf, 1987.

Weschler, Lawrence.  Seeing is Forgetting: the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin. Berkeley: California UP, 1982.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality. New York: Free Press, 1978.

---. Modes of Thought. New York: Free Press, 1938.

  INFLeXions No. 1 (May 2008)
How is Research-Creation?

edited by Alanna Thain

Affective Commotion
Alanna Thain

Creative Propositions for Thought in Motion
Erin Manning

The Thinking-Feeling of What Happens: A Semblance of a Conversation
Brian Massumi

Clone your Technics! Research-Creation, Radical Empiricism and the Constraints of Models
Andrew Murphie

Thinking Spaces for Research-Creation
Derek McCormack

Infinity in a Step: On the Compression and Complexity of a Movement Thought
Stamatia Portanova

edited by Christoph Brunner and Natasha Prevost

Systèmes des Sons

Frédéric Lavoie

What is a Smooth Plane? A journey of Nomadology 001
Yuk Hui

Amélie Brisson-Darveau

Fugue Marc Ngui: Diagrams for Deleuze & Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus
Bianca Scliar Mancini

Diagrams for Deleuze & Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus
Marc Ngui

This Was Now; Terrains of Absence
Mark Iwinski