Welcome to Emerging Futures -- Volume 115! Tools for Engaging Reality from the Perspective of Creativity...
Goodmorning pattern exploring beings,
We hope that for those of you who celebrate a unique reinvention of the holiday Thanksgiving on this past Thursday that it was beautiful.
Since last week we did make it to see the Arakawa show A Line is a Crack. It was a very interesting set of early “paintings” and quite relevant to questions of innovation. In these works from the early 1960’s Arakawa was beginning to use the tools of painting to neither make a painting nor make art. Duchamp said to him at the time, “You use canvas, you use paint… but it is not painting”.
Arakawa was asking and exploring the critical creative question, “and what else can it do?”
What happens when we use the tools and logics of art to do something else?
Arakawa was starting to create and explore, in collaboration with Madeline Gins, the territories of embodied and enactive diagrams as a tool to experimentally reconfigure the body, its extension, and its capacities to sense otherwise (and all with a great humor). Their work went on to do this in really radical ways. In this exhibition we see, what we can recognize in hindsight, as the exploratory experimental beginnings of the emergence of that practice.
The show is over, but for those in, or visiting, the NYC area you can make an appointment at the Reversible Destiny Foundation out in Brooklyn to engage with these and other works.
Madeline Gins and Arakawa’s creation of enactive diagrams are a good line to follow into this week's newsletter. We are continuing our experiment in developing diagrammatic tools for engaging with reality from the perspective of creativity. As we begin, it is important to consider what a diagram is and is not. Deleuze and Guattari, take up this question in the first plateau (chapter) of A Thousand Plateaus, by considering the differences between a map and a tracing (a representation),
“Make a map and not a tracing. What distinguishes a map from a tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real. The map does not reproduce… it constructs… It fosters connections between fields… The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification… Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the rhizome is that it always has multiple entryways… as opposed to a tracing, which always comes back “to the same.” The map has to do with performance, whereas the tracing always involves an alleged “competence.”” (p12-13.)
Last week we ended the newsletter asking for feedback on our first take on experimenting with diagrams for a creative practice. We had some really helpful discussions where we experimented with how these fit into a practice. And this naturally led to a great many notes – here is one set:
And these discussions/experiments – well, they sent us back to the drawing board…
This week we present our evolving diagrams.
Note before proceeding: These drawings include precise detail and can be quite large minimizing the scale of text. We recommend referring the high resolution versions while reading for comprehension and engagement.
One aspect we realized is that this is a set of tools. But it is an integrated set of tools. Each becomes a tool (useful) in light of how it connects with the others. Getting a sense of the big picture of creative processes is critical and then being able to jump from one aspect to the next (one diagram to the next) makes the diagrams work as tools for an experimental practice.
And with this logic in consideration we redrew the whole set…
This week we are also trying something new by incorporating the text directly into the drawing. We hope that this pulls you more into the diagrams as the engagement, and does not leave the diagrams as secondary illustration or “tracing” to the text. And the text outside of the drawings will function more as a secondary commentary (notes).
The one important thing to keep in mind as you begin to engage with these is that they diagram a process, each diagram engages and experiments with one aspect of this process. Because of this they can be read sequentially. But this process, the process of creativity, is ultimately also an event. It happens in time sequentially, but it also happens all at once – or rather all of it is happening at the same time. And each aspect that we separate is immanent in all the others.
NOTES: Networks and assemblages are in contrast to “wholes”. A network is not closed off, it does not have an internal essence, and it must be created and continuously created. Networks can individuate, but they are never discrete entities with a fixed internal truth.
Individuals, objects, concepts, and events are all networks that have creatively individuated via their relational logics.
With networks, it is not the case that “everything is connected” – rather “every thing can be connected.” Creative practices involve experimenting with how – with the production of new relations and processes.
One last note: Relations are not secondary, rather they are productive and determine the relata. Relations should also be considered as Affordances.
NOTES: The logic that emergent qualities are no more on the surface of things (say like paint or icing) than liquid is on the surface of water is super critical to embody and enact in a creative and experimental practice. What emerges is, and is not something other than what is. it is radically immanent to the assemblage. Thinking is a good example, it emerges from an embodied, embedded, extended and enacted assemblage, and it is immanent to that assemblage. Change the assemblage in critical ways and that form of thinking cannot emerge.
In this way creative experiments play with the sub-processes and relations that make up an individuated assemblage. Blocking or removing processes and relations. Transforming processes and relations. And inventing new processes and relations. But always while sensing how this changes the qualities of emergent processes. How does one sense this? This requires a way to engage with “virtual fields”:
NOTES: Things – bodies, tools, habits, concepts, environments – these are both real and actual. But there is more to the real than the actual. This is the realm of the virtual. Here it is important to carefully consider the creative logic of constraints (see above and below). Constraints are not physical things (like for example a pair of handcuffs), rather they are emergent configurational properties of the system that makes certain potentialities more likely than others.
The process has agency, it is an agency that becomes most visible/sensed at the level of creative constraints and the virtual field.
For us, the tool to experiment with this is a topological field diagram. As this might be new and odd to many, we encourage you to carefully engage these diagrams fully (reading all the notes, and following the totality of all of the flows and processes).
NOTES: The next diagram engages with how some thing – some new process – some new object, concept, practice creativity comes into being. Often this “last step” of the creative process is considered the only step involved in creativity. And this is the great error of the “god model” and so many related approaches to creativity.
Note: This next diagram adds another key aspect to creative processes – how “singularities” – those events that fit no schema, or identity – that are qualitatively novel – pure differences. These are profoundly hard to sense – really impossible to sense outside of forms of experimental engagement (the right kinds of enactive probing).
Note: In these diagrams it is important to follow the loopings of processes. Nothing is left unchanged by emergent creative practices. From this perspective it is always more useful to understand them as co-emergent. “Dynamic co-emergence means that part and whole co-emerge and mutually specify each other” (Thompson). Here it is equally important to remember that we are an individuated network within the processes – a “part” that is shaping the emerging whole at the same time the emergent whole is shaping us…
Note: Above diagram: So far we have considered these emergent creative processes only in direct relation to human focused assemblages. Obviously these are always more than human. But nonetheless it is important to always bring in the logics of non-human creativity that is active at all points within our creative processes (even if we do not notice or acknowledge them). The above diagram adds this in as the bottom half.
Note: Below diagram: As we started, the discussion of “bottom” and “top” are context relevant terms – but there is no “base level” that grounds everything above it. And while things are multi-scalar – they are also all existing – all active – in this immanent moment:
Well, that brings us to the end of another newsletter and a week of experimenting with diagrams. We have much further to go with these over the next couple of weeks.
As you celebrate the holiday with those important to you – if you are not already, please consider experimental ways to work with the first nations peoples of your region, and also consider our current global context. With this in mind, here are two nodes: Landback and Doctors Without Borders for potential engagement.
Till next week – keep experimenting broadly across all…
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