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INFLeXions No. 6 – Arakawa + Gins special issue of Inflexions

Dance of Attention by Erin Manning, Concordia University

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Diagrammatic Praxis


Fig. 1 Critical Path Workshop, Sydney, Australia (September 16, 2009). [1]

Step 1: Lie down on the floor. Close your eyes.

Step 2: Begin to create a diagram of the space. Allow the diagram to settle.

Step 3: Find an open space in the diagram and move into it, virtually.

Step 4: Locate another open space. Move into it.

Step 5: Wait. Feel time's elasticity. Feel the space shifting.

Step 6: Keep your eyes closed even while you keep moving in and through the diagram.

Step 7: Slowly stand up, eyes still shut. In the standing, re-encounter your diagram.

Step 8: Wait.

Step 9: Find another opening within the diagram.

Step 10: Move into it, actually this time.

Step 11: When your movement slows to a standstill and the diagram has solidified, slowly open your eyes.

Distributed Relational Movement

Diagrammatic praxis explores the lived experience of spacetime morphing. The initial proposition for a diagram is the first step in a procedure for the fielding of spacetime's potential in the mapping. This first step, recursively attended to in subsequent diagrammings, already exceeds a visual mapping. While the initial boundaries of the diagram may hold to a perspectival mapping, their potential for variability is experienced as soon as the second diagram is proposed in step 2: find an opening and move into it. The opening created by the incipient movement in and through is a preacceleration that activates the conditions for morphing of all diagrams in the making. The initial diagram is never replaced – the steps of the procedure are not linear – it is multiplied in a topological remapping of the elasticity of spacetime.

From the first to the second step, the activity of spacing is emphasized. This spacing-with is a procedure not so much for opening a closed diagram as for the bringing forth of active intervals – associated milieus – within the diagram's force of form. The preacceleration of movement incipiently moving is a spacing-with already constitutive in germ. Preacceleration is a virtual pre-movement that activates the conditions for experiencing and moving the relation. With the opportunity for relation constitutive of the activity of spacing, the diagram itself preaccelerates toward its tendencial elasticity. This activity in germ – bare activity [2] – connects directly with the body moving into the opening. The body-spacing – not your body exactly, but a body-elastic co-constituted in the spacing – is an assemblage of the diagrammatic praxis and its inherent potential for movement. It is not a representation of a pre-existent body but the sensing in movement of a body-becoming. This sensing body in movement preaccelerates with the diagram in-forming to create a multiple singularity: a body-diagrammatic.

The body-diagrammatic is a procedural "I." Here individuality's entering into so-called pre-existent spacetime is undermined. The experience of the exercise makes felt how the "I" – "I is a habit" – was always already relational (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 105). The "I" unhabituated now stands for Individuation.

Individuation is a diagrammatic praxis. It does not operate on a pre-imposed timeline but morphs across topological registers of co-constitution: space-bodying, time-spacing. This co-constitutive force of becoming dephases into multiple tendencial registers of experience, making itself felt across associated milieus of relation.

In the movement exercise, a notable dephasing comes in the standing. Here, in the recalibration of equilibriums, preaccelerations of movement potential cross the vertical-horizontal axes. Preacceleration happens less in an individual body than in the intervals proposed by movement's inherent relationality. When a diagrammatic preacceleration is felt, what has shifted is not the body per se, but the conditions for bodying in movement. As participants stand with their shifting diagrams, what tends to happen is the experience of an intensifying of mutation, a multiplying of intervals. This is experienced as, for instance, a heightened sense of the affective tonality of spacetime. Here, the diagram tends to emphasize the kinesthetic: participants talk about the intensification of sound or touch with the felt experience of space becoming multi-dimensional, an infra-dimensionality perhaps, caused by the shift in ground. In the mutation of ground, the tendency may be less toward displacement, less toward the multiplying of potential grounds than toward an infra-dimensionalising of the very idea of ground itself. In this infra-dimensionalising posture, participants tend toward absolute movement where the potential for the exploration of preacceleration's interval in continuous modulation can be felt most strikingly. This infra-dimensionality is expressive of the multiplicity of intervals themselves creating openings for the moving.

Preacceleration is diagrammatic praxis at its core. It does not occur in space, but creates space in the moving. Since it is virtual, it is experienced in its effects and tendencies: we cannot make sense of it "as such." Preacceleration feeds experience in the moving at the incipient edge where the before and between of movement coincide. In habitual movement, preacceleration is most often too fleeting to be felt. But in a focused diagrammatic praxis, especially in the moving across registers of spacetiming, it can be felt, and it is this feeling that most palpably makes apparent the inherent elasticity of spacetime bodying.

The procedure is itself topological. The first diagram is an infra-layer of the infinite potentiality of bodying. This bodying is an individuation not only of a body-becoming but of spacetime's intensive mapping. Step 1 is a refrain that at once activates and populates subsequent infra-layers of diagrammatic praxis.

Spacetime mutating, becoming-bodies morphing on an ontogenetic diagrammatic nexus – this is the expressive force of relational movement. While relational movement can operate between two bodies, can be felt as the relational interval of the preacceleration of a body moving-toward and with another body, relational movement never operates solely between two. It is always multiple, always already distributed in morphing spacetimes of experience. Distributed relational movement is the form movement takes when it becomes the ontogenetic expression of diagrams recombining. Relational movement is the intense force of recombination that activates the individuation of a diagrammatic praxis of spacetime.

What Moves?

Fig. 2 One Flat Thing, Reproduced (Forsythe Company, 2009).

The initial tendency is to place movement in the human body. This is especially the case in the context of choreography, where the dancing body tends to be at the forefront. In a recent paper entitled Choreography as Mobile Architecture, I explore how movement moves in two distinct instances – in William Forsythe choreography, One Flat Thing, Reproduced as featured on the Synchronous Objects website, and in the participatory installations of my own artwork, Slow Clothes and Volumetrics. [3] In Choreography as Mobile Architecture, my focus is on the ways in which these two variants of choreographic practice create their own complex diagrams, a mobile architecture as I define it in that piece.

Fig. 3 Slow Clothes at the 18th Biennale of Sydney (June-September, 2012).

Fig. 4 Volumetrics. Dancehouse, Melbourne (September, 2009).

A mobile architecture is not a resting place for human bodies, nor is it a built enclosure. Like the diagrammatic praxis of the movement exercise recounted above, a mobile architecture is about the fielding of experimental spacetimes such that they produce an intensive turbulence that becomes the force for a distillation of intensive or absolute movement. The mobile architecture of a choreography is not the plan of the movement or the partitioning of the individual bodies in space. It is the relational force that persists from the collective movement's incipient cueings and alignings, the incipient priming gathered as a force field not of the bodies per se, but of the active intervals their relational movement creates, intervals that in turn propose multiplicities in the moving.

Through an in-depth analysis of the techniques proposed by Forsythe and his dancers, techniques that take priming – cueing and aligning – to a very complex limit, I explore how what cues and aligns is not the human body per se, but the landings of sites for future cueings and alignings. These landing sites are more-than-human. They are the active force of movement's fieldings in co-constitutive spacetimes of experience, felt as the coming and going of tendencies too quick for the actual perceiving. What moves is less a movement in-itself than a tendency for movement. This tendency feeds a process, moving it toward a new aligning. Alignment is a moving-with incipient tendency that realigns the choreographic whole, shifting not simply the body in space, but the space bodying.

Diagrammatic praxis is an experiment in cueing and aligning aimed at experiencing the elasticity of spacetime. How does the creation of a diagram morph into a fielding that expands beyond the visual data of space mapped? What happens when the choreographic field does not begin with a pre-existent mapping onto which moving bodies are subsequently integrated? How is the moving body (re)created diagrammatically? How does the aligning body morph into a diagrammatic praxis in its own right?

Remembering the Future

Cues play with memory, yet their modality is not recall. A dancer's response based on recall would be far too slow, especially in the case of the rapid flow of Forsythe's singular movement exploration. The cue mobilizes not memory as pre-existent, but memory as crafted in movement. Memory is the force of attention mobilized in an emergent spacetime. Memory not in and of the body, but with the body-event of space timing.

The body-event of space timing is an aligning of the choreographic field. Bodies move in active memory with spacetime realigning. They move in active memory of the present-passing, a remembering of the future movement-moving. The associated milieu created in the cueing-aligning elasticizes time. Remembering the future, bodies-spacing move time. Ask a dancer to move exactly the same way again and they won't be able to do it. The movement moved them at a velocity too quick to recall in a time impossible to grasp as such. The dancer's movement remembers what the dancer cannot have known in advance, the movement itself active in a futurity virtually impossible to imagine. Remembering the future is tapping into movement's force of form, cueing to diagrams in the making.

In a choreographic setting such as One Flat Thing, reproduced, a common assumption is that the space is pre-mapped. Were this the case, there would be little opportunity for what Susanne Langer calls the commanding form (Langer 1979: 123, 134) of the piece, its force of form across iterations. Also called "matrix idea," commanding form is the virtual force – or diagram, as Bacon calls it, with reference to painting – of a composition's inherent potential for recomposing. It is the intensive magnitude of the emergent co-expression of the composition of a musical score and its performance. The "how" of the work as it is replayed across settings and environments is its commanding form. This "how" is emergent anew each time, yet carries a precision of technique. This technique – the work's remembering the future – cannot be felt in the distinct musical notes or danced movements, but through the relational environment they make possible. The commanding form of a piece is its mobile architecture. This mobile architecture is the artwork's dance of attention.

A Dance of Attention

A dance of attention springs from the attentiveness of a diagrammatic praxis within co-constitutive spacetimes of experience. This is not an attentiveness in and of the human body, though the body can certainly be one of its intensive features. The dance of attention is a co-compositional force of diagrams for the moving that emerges in the work's performances. It is the difference and repetition of performance's ontogenetic field as it creates space.

Each of these concepts – the diagram, commanding form, mobile architecture, dance of attention – is specific to context. The diagram of a painting feeds on texture, light and incipient form, the commanding form of a musical piece creates a sonorous refrain across performances and recompositions, a mobile architecture gives a sense of the incipient form-without-form of a proto-architecture, and the dance of attention foregrounds a sense of the attentiveness of the milieu itself to the complex landings of experience in the making. Each of these diagrammatic praxes is intensively intertwined, the concepts mobilized in their difference less to mark a general distinction than to orient the practice through which they intensively come to expression.

Another way to talk about the practices through which incipient tendencies express themselves is to differentiate between modes of existence. Modes of existence, for Etienne Souriau and Gilbert Simondon, refer to modes of invention that act on the present, altering experience in the making. Experience in the making is always on the threshold. The threshold marks the opportunity for discontinuous potentialities to mix. As they come together – the diagram and movement, say – what happens is disparity: they collide in an emergent discontinuity. This emergent discontinuity becomes a continuity only to the extent that a third is introduced: relational movement. This third brings about another plane of operation.

As Brian Massumi underlines, the continuity created through the emergence of a third plane of operation "moves across the difference. It comes into itself across the difference, from which it simultaneously separates itself to claim an operative autonomy as a qualitatively new regime of functioning." [4] In the case of the diagram morphing through the infringement of a body introducing movement, what emerges is not a triple singularity: a body, a diagram, a movement. A new diagram emerges that includes movement and body, a diagram that does not negate its predecessor, but traces itself on its predecessor's incipiently emergent topological surface.

In the procedural exploration of space-bodying we experience dephasings less as complete shifts in register than as qualitative variations in emphasis: contours and edges background to make space, foreground to move-with. These alignments introduce a potential to the field that hadn't been previously explored. The individuation of the diagram underscores the multiple layers of potential on its topological surface of expression.

The mode of existence of a given diagram will always coincide with the enabling constraints of its coming-into-formation. A dance of attention is not a general occurrence. Many events are too open, too dispersed, to create a reiterable diagrammatic praxis. The creation of a dance of attention is spurred by the capacity to tap into the incipient potential of a set of emergent relations, relations that must consistently be harnessed with enough precision to produce nodes of intensity that carry emergence across iterations. Emergence, understood as a quality of infinite potential with a margin of indetermination at its core, is sustained by the very elasticity of the nodes of intensity, an elasticity that bends spacetime to make space for points of inflexion that, in turn, create differentials of relation.

This tapping into a compositional matrix of relational movement depends of the capacity of spacetimes of emergence to fold through what Simondon calls the "operative solidarity" of the elements in co-composition. A dance of attention emerges when this operative solidarity forms not a structure, but a mobile architecture – a proto-architecting of movement in the dancing.

This movement in the dancing is not spurred solely by human intention. It erupts in the between of the cueing's aligning, in the relational interval of distributed movement. As Brian Massumi writes in relation to Simondon's notion of individuation, "the causation is always indirect, passing through an interval of immanence: a moment of concretization whose schema is immanent to active matter" (Massumi 2009). What returns as commanding form is not the form of the event, but the force of its formation. Cue to force of form.

Force of Form

A dance of attention has its own technicity. For each work – be it a choreography, a performance installation, a musical composition – a rigorous setting into place of conditions is necessary. These conditions are always specific to the event, but never completely stable across its iterations. Each iteration of the event dephases the memory of its having come into existence. No movement can be cued, aligned to or performed in exactly the same way twice. Conditions are pragmatic and based, always, on the now of event-time as it makes itself felt. Event-time is the foregrounding of the co-compositional infra-layering of diagrammatic force-form in the now of experience.

Never completely separate from past evocations of diagrammatic praxis, event-time proposes a dance of attention only when the field of potential is tapped into anew according to tight enabling constraints. Enabling constraints focus multiplicity into emergence. Without this focus, multiplicity disperses with little or no diagrammatic force. The mode of existence necessary for a dance of attention is that of a resonant intensity between preacceleration of the present futuring and aligning to a future presenting. Topological time squeezed into the nowness of an ontogenetic intensity.

What emerges as a dance of attention cannot be replicated. It is not a thing, a form. In Forsythe's One Flat Thing, Reproduced, the dance of attention emerges as the lived experience of tables dancing and bodies tableing across durations of infra-dimensional movement moving. In the watching, we experience spacetime's emergence through movement itself, an incipient emergence that backgrounds the actual bodies in their dancerly separateness and creates an active associated milieu between bodies, objects and the choreographic field. One Flat Thing, reproduced's dance of attention makes felt how the event of dancing cues to force of form.

Modes of existence are always plural and intermodal: "existence can be found not only in beings, but between them" (Souriau 1943/2009: 16). They do not reify existence as already-constituted – they are modalities of singular events in the making. As a mode of existence, the dance of attention is a continuously emergent multiplicity that creates a singular feeling even while it provokes divergent constellations of futures in the making. The singular feeling is less that which we can know than that through which the movement itself dances.

The dance of attention is a plurality in the sense that its surface is topological. Architecting mobility, a dance of attention proposes incipient horizontalities and verticalities for movement to pass through. Attentive to cues and alignings, primed for a future presenting, the dance of attention is the magnetic pull for a larger event's singular force of form.

Faire Oeuvre

The force of form is the working of the work, or the making-work of the work – faire oeuvre. Form is not pre-given, it is attentively emergent. Attentively because how it forms will effect every other form-taking. Souriau's concept of "faire oeuvre" highlights the potentiality in the making of a work's taking form. To bring Souriau and Simondon's concepts together, and following Simondon's refuting of the hylomorphism analogous to the notions of pre-existent space and time, we could say that "faire oeuvre" underscores that the making is always a dephasing.

Dephasing is the transductive operation of a milieu. It occurs in the relational movement of the shift in levels of a process. Within each dephasing, the preindividual share of potential is carried across, through. The preindividual itself is always unphased. It operates across and through. It is the preacceleration of all relational movements distributed across phases. It is the force of potential – Deleuze's a life – that subsists after and through each individuation. It is the "faire" in the "faire oeuvre" of the work's (re)making.

All individuation is modulation. Modes of existence never preexist a given individuation. They are immanent to it. In this regard, we could substitute existence with individuation and speak of modes of individuation with respect to modes of existence. The individualising of individuation is the bringing forth of diagrammatic potential to a remarkable point. The remarkable point, an actual occasion, bursts through not as a secure identity but as the intensive choreography of forces in the modality of matter-form. An individualization, however, is always also an incipient deformation, its remarkable point an itinerant inflexion that acts as a provisory limit.

In a dance of attention, attention itself constitutes the limit. Attention not of, but toward. A dance of attention is the holding pattern of an almost unidentifiable set of forces that modulate the event. It is the transductive potential of the event, what puts it in motion across modalities of spacetime for potentially infinite reiteration. In a choreographic context, the dance of attention cannot be located on a pre-existent map. It is what carries the event beyond its contemporary taking-time.


The time of the event is non-linear, alive across its dephasings. Each dephasing creates the conditions for a mode of existence. These conditions can be seen as the event's solicitude. Solicitude is a relation towards the spacing and timing of experience in the making. Solicitude opens the mode of existence in germ to forces of becoming. What erupts as potential emerges in the between, in the conditions for participation the event calls forth. Solicitude as a reaching-toward the relation of relations. Collectivity in germ.

Solicitude in-forms the event. It modulates the force of form of relation itself. This practice of modulation – key to the creation of emergent modes of existence – can be thought as a micropolitical tending-toward, a tendency in germ of politics in the making. This is a micropolitics of the associated milieu itself. As such, it does not privilege the human over the more-than human.

Modes of existence are events in-formed through the activity of dephasing across diagrammatic registers. Emergent across, in-formation is not the settling of the event into an identity, but the many-phasing of the event into an experience of the multiple now. In-formation is a complex reworking of any theory of communication that would assume that what dephases comes already fully-formed. In-formation not only provokes a shift of register, it foregrounds the force of form as that which modulates all subsequent differential becomings. It is immanent to the event. In-forming, the event attends to its force of form.

The dance of attention makes time for the event's immortality across phases. Here, the event's diagrammatic multiplicity emerges as a togetherness of discrete tendencies. These otherwise operationally discrete tendencies are activated in a holding-together of dynamic form. The dynamic form is the in-formation, the force of form that gives consistency to the event's singularity. Its architecting of mobility occurs when the event multiplies beyond this or that actual occasion and becomes an emergent mode of existence. This is a shift in register – a movement across the surface of the diagram of spacetiming – more than it is a difference in kind. Each mode of existence is replete with singularly multiple events in the making. The singularly multiple tendencies are potential divergences, hic-ups, discontinuities, and, as such, they constitute the mode of existence's margin of indetermination. This margin, its share of preindividual potential, is what sustains the emergent quality of modes of existence in time.

The time of the event is procedural, not linear. With each step in the procedure, potential circulates. And with the circulation of potential comes the differential of the event: its margin of indetermination. Here, at this cresting where the continuous and the discontinuous meet, novelty is invented. Think, for instance, of Arakawa and Gins Directions for Architectural Procedure: Invention and Assembly. Here, Arakawa and Gins use procedures not as a semiotic strategy – as a language game – but as a diagrammatic praxis for the transduction of time into event. Procedures take time. They may present themselves as linear stages in an assemblage, but, as Arakawa and Gins consistently underline, you must return, you must mix, you must interweave. Circulate, but don't circle. Tap into the margin of indetermination that is the relational interval of the procedure's associated milieu. Engage not only with the steps, do not only follow them one by one, but cross, experiment, spiral.

Architectural Procedure

"Step 1: So as to discover what most urgently needs to be made to be otherwise take a long, boldly uncompromising look at what goes on as (an) organism that persons (human being). [5] It is the task of those who would produce architectural procedures to augment the bioscleave, the insufficiently procedural bioscleave, and thereby recast it" (Arakawa and Gins 2003: 11). Every aspect of Arakawa and Gins' philosophy is already here, in the first step. This first step, its urgency, its insistence on the more-than of the human – the organism that persons – its lack of compromise, its procedurality, its emphasis on the associated milieu – the bioscleave – its underscoring of transformation and its belief in the transductive force of dephasing as the modality of invention, makes apparent the fact that the assemblage of architecting mobility – creating a mobile architecture that dances you – depends on an eternal return into the dephasing potentiality of the initial step. No linearity here: an injunction to step again, across, back, forward and around, in a dance of becoming.

Step 5. "The hoped-for outcome may simply spring into existence as a result of what has been worked into the architectural surround, but it is more likely that it will only make an appearance indirectly, having been brought into existence by called-forth sequences of actions that have led the way to it and which will, in some cases, turn out to be, to various degrees, constitutive of it (Arakawa and Gins 2003: 14). The outcome is emergent. Conditions are set into place for its resolution. These conditions are, as James would say, the event's terminus, the force of "ends in sight" that activates the event without necessarily becoming the promise of its pre-determined goal. [6] Terminus as potential for action. The end in sight in-forms the event without preempting an outcome. Terminus captivates the process and forces a dephasing into the remarkable point of this or that individuating: the creation of an architectural body, the engineering of a reversible destiny, an organism that persons. The outcome is reached indirectly through the relational matrix of procedures intermixing, infra-dimensionalising.

The time of the event is spurred by its immanent terminus, its procedural assemblage. The terminus activates the distributed relational movement. It propels a dephasing. In a dephasing, "there is no substantial difference between interiority and exteriority; there are not two domains, but a relative distinction" (Combes 1999: 37). [7] Step 1 is already a memory of step 10 infra-dimensionalizing. Return to the movement exercise for diagrammatic praxis. You are lying on the ground and the diagram is in-forming, multiplying angles and lines, forces and tendencies. As the second diagram begins to emerge – the diagram for movement-bodying – the first diagram does not externalize: it intensifies. The two diagrams infra-individuate. We have not a doubling, but an intensive multiplying of infra-dimensions. The terminus – space-bodying – does not create a pre-composed map, it potentializes the map, elasticizing it with the energy of invention.

The diagram's inherent relationality makes diagrammatic praxis infinite. Infinite mutation. The immortality of the almost. This immortality – the extensive continuum of the force of form – is not the event as such. The event is the constriction of this infinitude at its agitating limit. This limit agitates at the cusp, always on the edge of dephasing. Immortality is not known as such. What is known is what actualizes. The between of the known and the unknowable – their relational milieu – is bare activity, agitation at the limit where events individualize. "The individual is not finitude but limit, that is to say, capable of infinite growth" (Combes 1999: 38). Finitude is a demonstration of a procedural linearity that presupposes that time and space are pregiven. An event is never borne of linearity. It is a limit-concept, itself always on the cusp of individuation – or perishing, in Whitehead's vocabulary – onto the nexus of lived experience. Individuation is immortal not in its eventness but in its transductive potential. The dance of attention, while not itself immortal – carries this immortality in germ as its preindividual share of potential. In the dance of attention, the event is attentive to the limit, the event agitates the limit.

Scales of Process

The time of the event is multi-scalar. "Between the physical and the vital, between the plant and the animal, we must not look for substantial differences capable of creating distinctions of genre or species, but rather differences of speed in the process of their formation" (Combes 1999: 42). Organisms that person populate the intensive strata of the dance of attention, but they do not monopolize it. Different speeds co-exist in an infra-species, infra-dimensional field. The dance of attention is a tentative holding-in-place of agitation at the limit where speciation and dimensionalizing meet. It is the holding-in-place of the rhythm of the infra where becoming is on the cusp of defining itself as this or that. "What separates being into domains is nothing more than the rhythm of becoming" (Combes 1999: 42).

"Step 8: Once an architectural procedure has been invented and assembled, still other ways to assemble it will become apparent" (Arakawa and Gins 2003: 15). In the interval where a procedure realizes itself as the assemblage of an architecting in movement, what expresses itself is a new diagram. Scales of proceduralities overlap, creating their own enabling constraints and thereby bringing to the fore new sets of potential instructions. These instructions mark the event-time of the architecting for mobility. Their scalar potential is multiple.

Take the architecting for mobility of a hospital as an example. Think of what it holds in place, and what it provokes as its dance of attention. Recall the last time you went to a hospital and re-experience its entropy of sameness, pale wall after pale wall, high bed after high bed, closed curtain after closed curtain, double-doors after double-doors. Recall the smell. All this in the name of so-called life. Yet a procedurality not for life, not for dancing or cooking or laughing, but for dying. The hospital's dance of attention is an attending to death. Its double-doors always lead to a similar refrain: death, death, death.

Step 6 is all about circulation: "if novel ways of structuring an architectural surround to produce the hoped-for outcome tend to turn up on a fairly frequent basis, that should be taken as indication enough of its being a keeper" (Arakawa and Gins 2003: 14). Circulation happens on many scales at once, on different timelines, creating topologies of spacetime. When the dance of attention circulates, it resists stultification into a linear process: birth-death. Activated through multiple contemporary dephasings in a spiraling eternal return, the interval emerges and takes shape as the radically empirical option of life itself, or, as Deleuze would say, of a life. A life: the infra-individuation of the force of potential across the surface of living itself.

Modes of existence are transindividual, collective, relations of relations. "Novel ways of structuring" are experiments in collective individuation. The collective does not emerge after individuation: it is not the result of a process. It is the force of the process itself: all individuation is collective. The preindividual – the affective force of becoming – is collective in germ. "This tension [between the preindividual and the individuated], felt by the subject in affectivity and emotivity, can be seen as the way the subject perceives the latency of collectivity in itself" (Combes 1999: 62). The latent collectivity of all individuation – including a life – reminds us that the body is infinitely multiple, even in the advent of its individuated, or individualising mode of existence. The becoming-body of individuation brings resolution to a process, but still, it retains the excess of the preindividual that populates all architecting for mobility.

Politics of Individuation

Contemporary politics tend to be preemptive. They lack time. Or better, they monopolize time in their preying on memories of past-future fear. The event will have always already taken place. Preemptive politics' dance of attention is primed for a recursive individuation. What is held over as the event's affective resonance is the already of the event's in-forming. Invention, certainly, but held in the tight vicious circle of terror. There is always already nothing that can have been done. The event that has not yet taken shape has already changed the shape of its potential landing site. We are poised at the defensive cusp of what we should have already known and what we will already have imagined.

The procedural art of Arakawa and Gins does not accept preemptive politics as the force to create time. The making time of Arakawa and Gins' diagrammatic praxis is one of modulation. Modes of existence are immanent to it, not constituted by it. The body is not affectively modulated in advance of the event, poised on the cusp of the dread of not yet having known. The event modulates in a procedural dance of attention, where what it is attentive to is not the past futuring, but the futuring of a tendency in the making – a remembering of the future. Where the modes of existence of preemptive politics are based in an anxiety for the already not yet known, the politics of performance of Arakawa and Gins are full of joy in the making, [8] activated, always, in the modality of experimentation. Preemptive politics make no time for experimentation in the open field of remembering the future: they will always already have invented the field.

Modalities of experimentation take form across the transindividual. They are always already collective. This collectivity is singularly multiple. It expresses not through a notion of the mass articulation of individuals, but in a quietude of infra-dimensional discovery and invention. This quietude, or what Simondon calls solitude "results from a subtraction… in response to the event, of all relation that obliterates the more-than individual that the subject carries in itself" (Combes 1999: 64). Solitude is a solicitude for the pre-individual share of all experience in the making. Solitude solicits the inherent collectivity of all individuation. It moves the relation.

Collectivity for Simondon is subtraction of the tendency to limit becoming to the realm of the individual. Individuation is multiple, interscalar, transductive, metastable. The more-than-individual carried by each individuation is the expressive potential of an interval: the relation of relations. "The discovery of the transindividual emerges from the encounter and requires solitude as a milieu to traverse" (Combes 1999: 66). Collectivity not as the multiplication of individuals but as the solicitude of the multiple across the quietude of the interval.

The dance of attention is the associated milieu of the event in-formation gathered into an intensity at the cusp of action. A holding pattern, the dance of attention is the intensive elasticity of the event's distributed relational movement. A shift toward the political happens, I would argue, when the dance of attention explicitly tends toward relationality as such. When it does, the dance of attention begins to make time for the articulation of a proto-politics in germ.

Arakawa and Gins are political artists. Their procedures create a field for political expression, multiplying the "I", itself a procedure that agitates at the cusp of dephasings. When the relation itself the modality of attention, the associate milieu begins to express the potential of political force. Politics is expression before it is content.

To have political content is already to have landed in a pre-distinguishable time-zone. Where Arakawa and Gins excel is in the creation of multiple interscalar event-times. Their architecting of mobility creates a dance of attention that moves incessantly in a transindividuation of collective tendings-toward. A kitchen is an opportunity for cooking, but it is also an invitation to climb, to sing, to sleep. The floor is an opportunity for walking, but it is also an invitation for dizzying, for toppling, for rolling. The event is an opportunity for dancing, but also an invitation to make time for the political.

Beyond Self, More-Than Human

Politics is often perceived as an individual's relation to the other. Individual to individual, what results in the meeting takes place in a pre-existent spacetime with bodies pre-individuated. Deleuze's A life is a challenge to individualized politics. A life foregrounds the force of life – its political potential as an infra-individuating force for a diagrammatic praxis of life-living – at the cusp of individuation where the pre-individual is active in all its intensity. A life is power across life, not biopolitical power over life. It is the event of life living as it emerges on the transindividual threshold of collective individuation. Not of the human per se, not in this or that body, A life is across, with. A life "is precisely what has been stripped of everything that could contain it or represent it" (Palbart 2009: 41). [9] A life: a force that dephases this life into the more-than human where what lives is a tendency for life across its complex relational modalities.

The incipient collectivity of political thought resides, as Combes articulates, in the excess of individuation, in the preindividual. This non individual share is not constituted as an other individual. It is more-than (human), the beyond-self of the trans-individuating. It is the affective force for the incipient dephasing of individualisation, a dephasing that is never simply a moment in a linear process, but a topological folding of diagrammatic forces tending toward multiple expression.

In this context, politics can only be procedural. A set of conditions, a series of enabling constraints, collective politics – politics of collective individuation – are attentive to the ontogenetic modulations of modes of existence in the making. The social does not preexist them – it is co-founded in and through the procedures that activate event-time.

There is no time outside the event. All events are transindividual and infra-dimensional. What comes with the event is a diagrammatic praxis that leaves an intensive mark across different inter-scalar measures of time. Absolute time and metric time, intensive movement and displacement, the diagrammatic praxis of an event is how that event becomes attentive to its own singularity in time. This singularity is transindividual, "an impersonal zone […] that is simultaneously a molecular dimension or intimate dimension of the collective itself" (Combes 1999: 87).

Events carry as their preindividual share a receptiveness to the dance of attention. They populate modes of existence that are themselves attentive to the collective enunciations of procedural potential. The politics-in-germ of event-time is their ethics. It is that which "contains in itself a power of amplification," that which always remains capable of entering into relation with its preindividual share (Simondon 1995: 16). This entering into relation is the act par excellence, and this is what the event is attentive to in its dance of attention.

Arakawa and Gins' procedures create affordances [10] for the dance of attention. Always embedded in associated milieus of relation, they land the event in ways that exceed expectation. Their injunction to "sited awareness" foregrounds the impossibility of locating a site once and for all. As Jondi Keane foregrounds, what Arakawa and Gins propose is an ecology of relations that concerns the shaping of awareness (Keane 2007: 439, Arakawa and Gins 1997: 86).

An Ecology of Relations

"We should name the body every time. We know NOTHING about the body! We should do this naming all the time, like food. Ah, that's ketchup. Ah, that's knee" (Gins in Kennedy 2006). Arakawa and Gins' architectural procedure never escapes naming. Naming is procedural. It acts as a point of inflexion that dephases individuation propelling individualisations, that transduces multiplicity, creating singular events. These events, including the mode of knee, the mode of ketchup, of death, and of a life – to bring Deleuze into the mix – are radically empirical. They are activated relationally through specific sets of conditions in an elastic procedurality that folds in to create a dance of attention and out to create an individualization.

In its practice of creating conditions for dephasing, metastability and transduction, procedurality is a machine for the immortality of diagrammatic praxis. Its naming does not preempt the event. It is the event. Procedural techniques are modalities for inventive identification. The naming co-exists in an ecology of relations. It is this or that, but also this with that. An operative autonomy as a qualitatively new regime of functioning.

Arakawa and Gins' procedure for life (because it is that, much more than it is a procedure against death) screams Nietzsche's refrain "Was that Life? Well then, once more!" (1966: 157). "Reversible Destiny," their procedural manifesto, is based on "an ethics that permits no category of event, not even mortality, to be set apart for special treatment, and that considers there to be nothing more unethical than that we are required to be mortal"(2002: xviii). A politics for life, with life, reversible destiny names life as an event in its own right that takes life-living as its starting point, remaining attentive to something akin to Deleuze's a life, the preindividual force of life that accompanies all modalities of existence. Reversible Destiny draws into attentiveness the milieu of life as it lives. It is a dancing into attentiveness of the potential of the relation, of the commanding form that resonates in a diagrammatic praxis of invention. This is politics in germ, a politics preaccelerating toward articulation, toward creation. By taking life as the field of invention, by making life the procedural condition for event-time, Arakawa and Gins enact a politics of performance.

A politics of performance attends to life. Attending-to is a phase of the political too often backgrounded, as though politics happened only in the actual realm of having-lived, and not in the absolute movement of the event's preacceleration.

The politics of performance of the dance of attention are active in duration, immanent to the event. They cannot be quantified and they do not propose pre-determinable results. They fold through the event, creating openings for modes of existence in the making. They activate a singular dance of attention, a dance that attends specifically to the associated milieu of relation. They amplify potential at its agitating limit, dangerously near the dephasing that ungrounds them. The politics of performance can be thought as the diagram's bare activity, its preindividual share coursing across scales and registers, all in the name of a micropolitics of inter-scalar, inter-species reversible destinies.

"The way the body holds itself, the many ways it holds itself, on many different scales of action, and the way it holds the world is cumulative. All the holding you have experienced, all the holding of you and by you, moves within and through your holding of yourself and has a part in your holding onto something" (Arakawa and Gins 2002: 82-83). The dance of attention is a "tentative constructing toward a holding in place" of a potential politics in the making (Arakawa and Gins 2002: 23).

A note: the body holding itself must not be thought as a reinstituting of the individual as the mediator of event-time, or of the dance of attention. The holding is what creates the relation body-movement-spacetime. It is a holding that exceeds the personing of spacetime, a holding that is more a patterning that a grasping onto, a holding always on the edge of transduction.

Politics in germ: a tentative attentiveness to the conditions through which the event expresses itself, a tentative constructing toward a holding in place of solicitude, a distributed relational movement.

The political as mode of existence activated in an attentiveness to life opens the territory to its associated milieu, a relational matrix that shifts the I toward an Individuation not of the body as such, but of the body-elastic as co-constitutive of diagrammatic praxes in the making. A politics of relation that attends to the more-than-I, gathering in the force of form the potential in procedure that is, itself, performance. Performance as that which names the time of the event.


[1] This movement experiment opened a 1-day workshop I led at Critical Path in Sydney, Australia (September 16 2009) on the topic of distributed relational movement. "SEAM 2009 Spatial Phrases [was] a multi-tiered event that explore[d] the nexus between architecture, space, film and the moving body. It include[d] a 3-day symposium, multiple workshops, specially commissioned performances and installations by some of Sydney's most exciting choreographers and dance practitioners and a series of artist's talks" [from the website:] I would like to thank the participants of the workshop, whose open exploration of the workshop experiments allowed me to conceive of the concepts foregrounded here. Participants were: Debra Batton, Lone Bertelsen, Haya Cohen, Atlanta Eke, Paul Gazzola, Petra Gemeinboeck, Diana Hani, Baki Kocaballi, Christiane Lo, Pauline Manley, Brian Massumi, Jodie McNeilly, Andrew Murphie, Banu Pekol, Gretel Taylor, Jade Tyas Tunggal, Beth Weinstein, Danielle Wilde.

[2] Bare activity is a concept that emerges from Brian Massumi's work on preemption, perception and politics in an unpublished book manuscript entitled Perception Attack. He defines bare activity as "human life in the instant's off-beat. In that instant, a life is barely there, recoiled, bodily consumed in its infra-relation to itself. It is a life without determinate content. In that imperceptible instant, what its content will be next is in the making. A life is formatively barely there, tensely poised for what comes next. In that measureless instant, a life is intensely barely there, regathering in an immediacy of its capabilities. This is not vitality reduced to the minimum, this is life primed. This is also war. The life primed may indeed be in proximity to death. Yet the body is already arcing toward a next vital exercise of its capacity to act. Not re-animalization: re-animation: a stoking for the next step. This is a far cry from a life reduced to brute matter. It is the embodied event of a life regathering in recoil. This is life self-enfolding in affective vitality."

[3] Slow Clothes and Volumetrics are mobilized above for the Slow Clothes participatory performance held at Dancehouse (Melbourne, October 3 2009). "Folds to Infinity is a 2-phased fabric-based exploration of how textiles move us. Phase 1, Slow Clothes, is composed of 500 pieces of cut and serged fabric based on 25 pattern designs that lend themselves to all kinds of garments when connected to each other. Each piece is singular both in its cut and in the placement of buttons, button-holes, magnets, hooks and eyes and can be attached to or paired with any other piece to create garments or environments of the participant's making. Phase 1 tends toward surface folds, layerings that are thin and sediment-like, though the magnets' inherent attraction to multiple stickings does create a complexity of folding that already tends toward volumetric bunching. Phase 2, entitled Volumetrics, connects to Phase 1 but is based more specifically on the idea of volumes, generative of foldings that are thick and bunched. Where Phase 1 plays with colour, the fabrics chosen for their chromatic weaves, Phase 2 is black, the emphasis on textural subtleties. Phase 2, is not cut from conceived patterns that, in their shape, already call forth garment-potential. Volumetrics is thought as a supplement to Phase 1 that thickens the sediment, building out from under its interweaving layers. Each piece is more-or-less a rectangle and is comprised of button-holes with elasticized string pulled through them, multiple magnets, snaps and zippers. With Volumetrics, the flatness of the body-surface is put into question, as is the idea that a garment layers directly on the human frame. To play with Volumetrics, toggles are pulled or loosened along the elasticized string, or gotten rid of altogether, zippers are opened or closed, and snaps are multiply connected on a single piece of fabric or across pieces. The emphasis in Phase 2 is on the ontogenetic qualities of shaping: Volumetrics is a machine for creating volumes. Each piece of Volumetrics also has one button, thought as an invitation to couple with Slow Clothes – although of course each of the button-holes housing the elastic string is itself an occasion to connect and fold, as are the magnets. Slow Clothes and Volumetrics are conceived as Choreographic Objects for the exploration of what a body can do at the productive interval between dressing and architecting" in Erin Manning, Choreography as Mobile Architecture (Keynote, SEAM 2009).

[4] This description is inspired by Brian Massumi's discussion of Simondon's example of the turbine in "Simondon's Technical Mentality Revisited" in Parrhesia, "On Gilbert Simondon" (Issue 7, 2009)

[5] C.S. Peirce – who can be firmly situated in the philosophical lineage foregrounded here – has a similar concept of personing: "The consciousness of a general idea has a certain 'unity of ego' in it, which is identical when it passes from one mind to another. It is, therefore quite analogous to a person; and indeed, a person is only a particular kind of general idea." p. 350 The Essential Peirce Vol. 1 (Indiana: Indiana UP, 1992).

[6] James writes: "the percept's existence as the terminus of the chain of intermediaries creates the function. Whatever terminates that chain was, because it now proves itself to be, what the concept 'had in mind'." See William James, Essays in Radical Empiricism, p. 61.

[7] In this article, all translations of Combes' Simondon - Individu et collectivité

[8] For Spinoza, joy marks our capacity to be affected. "We come closer to our power of action insofar as we are affected by joy" (Deleuze 1990: 246). Joy is not quantifiable, nor is it a moral category. It is our very capacity to be affected. Like Nietzche's insistence on affirmation, Spinozan joy is linked to the preindividual share: the force of a life coursing through life living.

[9] My translation of "Nuda Vida, vida besta, una vida" in Euphorion. Ed. Ernesto Hernandez, Carlos Enrique Restrepo (January-June 2009) pp. 34-42. The original appeared in Portuguese as part of a book entitled Conversações Internacionais: paisagem da educação (Porto Alegre: Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, 2007), pp. 177-192.

[10] For the concept of affordances see Gibson's The Theory of Affordances in Perceiving, Acting, and Knowing.


Arakawa and Gins, Madeline. Reversible Destiny—Arakawa and Gins—We Have Decided Not to Die. New York: Guggenheim Museum Soho, 1997.

Combes, Muriel. Simondon - Individu et collectivité. Paris: PUF, 1999.

Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Félix. What is Philosophy? Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

James, William. Essays in Radical Empiricism. New York: Longmans, Greens, 1912.

James J. Gibson. The Theory of Affordances. In Perceiving, Acting, and Knowing, Eds. Robert Shaw and John Bransford. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Center for Research in Human Learning, 1977.

Keane, Jondi. "Situating Situatedness through Æffect and the Architectural Body of Arakawa and Gins", 9(2), 2007: 437-457.

Kennedy, Jake. "Gins, Arakawa and the Undying Community," Culture Machine (vol. 8, 2006) .

Langer, Susanne K. Feeling and Form: a theory of art developed from Philosophy in a new key. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979.

Massumi, Brian. "Simondon's Technical Mentality Revisited" in Parrhesia, "On Gilbert Simondon" (Issue 7, 2009)

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for None and All, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin Books, 1966).

Palbart, Peter Pal. "Nuda Vida, vida besta, una vida" in Euphorion. Ed. Ernesto Hernandez, Carlos Enrique Restrepo (January-June 2009) pp. 34-42.

Simondon, Gilbert [1989]. Individuation psychique et collective. Paris: Flammarion, 2007.

Simondon, Gilbert [1958]. Du mode d'existence des objets techniques. Paris: Flammarion, 2001.

Simondon, Gilbert [1964]. L'Individu et sa genèse physico-biologique. Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 1995.

Souriau, Etienne [1943]. Les différents modes d'existence, suivi de De l'ordre à faire. Ed. Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers. Paris: PUF, 2009.

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

  INFLeXions No. 6
Arakawa + Gins

Edited by Jondi Keane & Trish Glazebrook

Open Letters

Madeline Gins

Here Where it Lives...Biocleave
Jondi Keane and Trish Glazebrook 1-21

Mapping Reversible Destiny
Trish Glazebrook and Sarah Conrad 22-40

Escaping the Museum
David Kolb 41-71

Jean-Jacques Lecercle 72-79

The Reversible Eschatology of Arakawa and Gins
Russell Hughes 80-102

Chaos, Autopoiesis and/or Leonardo da Vinci/Arakawa
Hideo Kawamoto 103–111

Daddy, Why do Thing have Outlines?: Constructing the Architectural Body
Helene Frichot 112–124

Tentatively Constructing Images: The Dynamism of Piet Mondrian's Paintings
Troy Rhoades 125–153

Evidence: Architectural Body by Accident, Destiny Reversed by Design

Blair Solovy 154-168

Breathing the Walls
James Cunningham 169–188

Technology and the Body Public
Stephen Read 189-213

Bioscleave: Shaping our Biological Niches
Stanley Shostak 214-224

Arakawa and Gins: The Organism-Person-Environment Process
Eugene Gendlin 225-236

An Arakawa and Gins Experimental Teaching Space – A Feasibility Study
Jondi Keane 237–252


The Mechanism of Meaning: A Pedagogical Skecthbook
Gordon Bearn 253–269

Wayfinding through Landing Sites and Architectural Bodies: Exploring the Roles of Trajectoriness, Affectivatoriness, and Imaging Along
Reuben Baron 270-285

Trajectory of ARAKAWA Shusaku: from Kan-Oké (Coffin) to the Reversible Destiny Lofts
Fumi Tsukahara 286-297

A Snailspace
Tom Conley 298–316

Made/line Gins or Arakawa in

Marie Dominique Garnier 317–339

The Dance of Attention
Erin Manning 340–367

What Counts as Language in a Closely Argued Built-Discourse?
Gregg Lambert 368-380

Constructing Poiesis: Storyboards for an immersive diagramming
Alan Prohm 381–415

Open Wide, Come Inside: Laughter, Composure and Architectural Play
Pia Ednie-Brown416–427


What Arakawa Did
Don Byrd 428–441

Don Ihde 442-445

For Arakawa, Nin More Lives
Jean-Michel Rabaté 446–448


Approximately Arakawa and Gins
Ken Wark 448-449

A Perspective of the Universe
Erin Manning and Brian Massumi

Axial Lecture on Self-Organisation
George Quasha

Bob Bowen

Bob Bowen