This issue of Footprint examines the notion of asignifying semiotics, which plays a dominant role in contemporary capitalism and becomes indispensable in creating the very conditions for its political critique. Asignifying semiotics is not limited to the semiotics of mathematics, stock indices, money, accounting and computer codes, but includes the semiotics of music, art, architecture, film, dance, and so on. What they have in common is their repudiation of the hegemony of meta-languages. Asignifying signs do not represent or refer to an already constituted dominant reality. Rather, they simulate and pre-produce a reality that is not yet there. Existence is not already a given, it is a stake in the experimental assemblages, be they scientific, political or artistic. Deleuze and Guattari’s principle of asignifying rupture calls for relinquishing the tautological, and hence trivial effort of tracing, in favour of creative mapping. The ten articles in Footprint 14 constitute a cartography that is coextensive with the social field, no longer as mimesis but as poiesis.
Issue's editors: Deborah Hauptmann and Andrej Radman
Deborah Hauptmann and Andrej Radman, editors | Introduction: Asignifying Semiotics as Proto-Theory of Singularity: Drawing is Not Writing and Architecture does Not SpeakAbstract Article [free PDF]
We have recently witnessed a confession of a fellow architect with which we fully identify. We, too, belong to the generation educated under the semiotic regime, which – as we will argue in our introduction – has run its course. We also believe that the idea of ‘architecture as language’ might have been useful as an analytical tool but never as a design mechanism. After all, creativity comes first and routinisation follows. As the title of Footprint 14 suggests, this is a general plea to have done with the hegemony of the linguistic signifier. Signifying semiotics is but a fraction of a much broader asignifying semiotics. We propose to approach the issue qua Spinozist practice of ethology, defined as the study of capacities, or – as we would like to think of it – a proto-theory of singularity. This is as much an ethical or political problem as it is an aesthetic one. It concerns what the cultural critic Steven Shaviro recently qualified as a primordial form of sentience that is non-intentional, non-correlational, and anoetic. The Affective Turn will be measured against the unavoidable Digital Turn. We will conclude by reversing the famous Wittgensteinian dictum whereby what we cannot speak about we must not pass over in silence. A brief summary of contributions, which are by no means limited to architecture, is concluded with a politically charged epilogue. The very last paragraph of the epilogue reveals the pink-on-pink reference.
Gary Genosko | Information and AsignificationAbstract Article [free PDF]
This paper presents a detailed explication of the main tenets of Félix Guattari’s theorisation of asignifying semiotics in the context of the mixed semiotics that he developed in the 1970s and which extended throughout his career. This foundational work on the relationship between asignification and signifying semiologies, and the micropolitical necessity of escaping from meaning in the broadest sense encompassing individuation, double articulation, and limited subjectivation, is contextualised in terms of information theory, in the work of Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver, as well in terms of Roland Barthes’ semiology and suggestive extra-structural conception of signifiers without signifieds or obtuse meaning. Guattari’s favourite examples of asignifying technomaterial info-networks and mushrooms sprouting on manure are both discussed.
Patrick Healy | The Birthing of Things: Bergson as a Reader of LucretiusAbstract Article [free PDF]
I examine, in this short paper, the work of Henri Bergson on Lucretius first published in 1884, and argue for its vital significance in understanding the development of his philosophical thinking. This publication was to serve as an introduction to extracts from Lucretius, for his students at Clermont-Ferrand, with a commentary and notes on the poetry, philosophy, the physics, language and text of his poem De Rerum Natura. In the published volume most of the overview of Lucretius by Bergson is given in the long preface, and this is followed by extracts in Latin, without translation into French, with comments on lines and individual words, which covers all the books of the original poem. By 1899 it had gone to a third edition, and was still in print until the 1960's. Copies today are very difficult to obtain, and only recently has a full electronic version become available on the Internet Archive, to which readers are here directly referred.
Piotrek Swiatkowski | How to Think Constructivism? Ruskin, Spuybroek and Deleuze on Gothic ArchitectureAbstract Article [free PDF]
In the Gothic architecture Lars Spuybroek discovers a vitalist ontology that allows him to rethink the nature of constructivism. The vitalist beauty emerges out of a particular field of material forces and is not an actualisation of a pre-given model. His analysis leads to a critique of the work of Deleuze and Guattari, who are portrayed as philosophers of the sublime. Their resistance to the signifying semiotics leads them too far. They unjustly claim that the Gothic structures emerge due to an affirmation of chaos and not in a careful process of construction. In my paper, I will nevertheless demonstrate that Spuybroek’s critique misses a fundamental point of their analysis. Only phantasms or spiritual becomings - concepts lacking in the analysis of Spuybroek - can allow for a proper appreciation of the Gothic and of the process of construction.
Jay Hetrick | Video Assemblages: ‘Machinic Animism’ and ‘Asignifying Semiotics’ in the Work of Melitopoulos and LazzaratoAbstract Article [free PDF]
In this paper I will analyse the theoretical background of a single video installation – co-created by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato – in order to unpack Deleuze and Guattari’s important but somewhat elusive concepts of ‘machinic animism’ and ‘asignifying semiotics.’ Assemblages (2010) is a three channel audio-visual documentary about the French philosopher and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. I will argue that, in order to fully understand this work, we must interrogate the incredibly dense theoretical context it inhabits. In particular, I will explore the juncture between Guattari’s ethico-aesthetic ideas concerning a potential ‘ecosophy’ – or theory of the different relations between humans and nature that depends upon a new semiotics – and Lazzarato’s conception of ‘videophilosophy,’ which is grounded upon a politicised Bergsonian onto-aesthetics. I will conclude by criticizing Nicolas Bourriaud’s misappropriation of Guattari in his book Relational Aesthetics and propose that Assemblages demands quite a different and more radical gesture of relationality: one that follows an ecosophical logic that envelopes and imbricates the different levels of nature, the individual, and the social in a way that we might qualify with the term ‘unnatural participation.’
Marc Boumeester | Medium Affect Desire: Hybridising Real Virtual and the Actualised through Affective Medium EcologyAbstract Article [free PDF]
Underneath the turbulent surface of the ubiquitous media-scape lies an even more agile and aggressive set of relations. A central figure in this turmoil of desires seems to be the asignifying sign, which has a hybridising liaison with both the realm of the real virtual and the realm of the actualised. The main question is what does it want? This new materialistic, non-anthropocentric liberty of affect is creating an arena of strange attractors and other topological vector fields in which our own unconscious drive is as effective as that of the steel ball in a pinball machine. Could we isolate the intrinsic drive of the medium from its subservient position in the aesthetic, freeing its desire from the anthropocentric dominion? What does it Yen for? Perhaps this gap is not meant to be filled, as it is this yearning what it yearns for. The asignifying sign cannot be isolated, it is neither here nor there, yet it is conditionally omnipresent, it inhibits the gap, its desire is to affect.
Stella Baraklianou | Moiré Effect: Index and the Digital ImageAbstract Article [free PDF]
The moiré effect and phenomena are natural occurring geometric formations that appear during the super-position of grid structures. Most widely recognisable in colour printing practices, generally viewed on screens (computer and TV) they are in most cases examples of interference within a signal or a code, unwanted visual mis-alignment. Especially in digital image capture, moiré patternings appear when a geometrically even pattern, like a fabric or close-up of fine texture, has an appearance of rippled water with blue or red hues of concentric circle formations. The intriguing pattern formation in this case points back not only to the mis-alignment of frequencies, but can be further seen as the intersection point of a speculative ontology for the index of the digital image. Moiré not only as a visually reproducible phenomenon or effect, but a field of vision that blurs the boundaries between analogue and digital, perception and affect, manifesting the photographic as a constant site of becoming, a site of immanence. The philosophy of Henri Bergson, Brian Massumi and Francois Laruelle will be explored alongside the moiré image and phenomenon, to see if there is such a speculative site underlining the becoming of the digital image and its repercussions in contemporary digital culture.
Louis Schreel | The Work of Art as Monument: Deleuze and the (After-) Life of ArtAbstract Article [free PDF]
In the last chapter of What is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari conceptualise the work of art as a paradoxical monument which does not commemorate a past, but rather, preserves itself in the absence of man. The key to understanding this paradox lies in the further determination of the monument as a ‘being of sensations’: a ‘compound’ of ‘percepts’ and ‘affects’, meaning, a composition of invisible forces that populate the world, affect us, and make us become. Art would provoke an encounter with inhuman conditions of life which in daily, pragmatic life are often not given a chance. Yet, why still speak in terms of visibility and invisibility if there is not even an eye to perceive? How to understand a conception of art which refuses to think it in terms of human needs, for example exactly of commemorating the past? Deleuze was well aware of these questions, as the chapter on percept, affect and concept repeatedly re-affirms its radical appeal. In this paper I aim to elucidate this novel understanding of art as unwordly monument. I will do so firstly by looking into its implicit dialogue with the phenomenologists Erwin Straus and Henri Maldiney. Secondly, Theodor W. Adorno's essay 'Valéry Proust Museum' will serve as a ground for formulating what might be called the Deleuzian 'after-life' of art.
Gregory J. Seigworth | Affect Theory as Pedagogy of the ‘Non-’Abstract Article [free PDF]
What is the relationship of affect to the non- of non-philosophy? And how might asking this question also go some distance toward answering (or raising) questions about the continuing relevance of disciplinarity itself? By first taking up minor remarks made by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in What is Philosophy? – especially around the work of Francois Laurelle – this essay will explore how some of the implications of affect’s relation to the ‘non-‘ intersect with matters of immanence, pedagogy, and, finally, with the resoluteness of disciplinary boundaries.
Alexander Mooi | Review Article: What Will the Architect Be Doing Next?Abstract Article [free PDF]
A more engaging and visionary role for architects is emerging, altering focus from a technological advisor to a more sociological engineer or entrepreneur. By researching a selection of current architectural practices an attempt is made to describe this evolution of the architect’s role and to assess if this is truly a new development or even a paradigm shift. Based upon on an analysis of texts by scholars and written conversations with architects on the subject of sustainable architecture, resilient architecture, agency in architecture and reactivist architecture, supplemented with additional statements by architects on the matter of architectural practice, an evolution of this role made clear and put into perspective. The aim of this review therefore is to distil some kind consensus within architectural practice of how the architect’s role is to evolve in the foreseeable future. It appears that reactivist architecture as a descriptive set of principles has absorbed elements of all of the above, becoming more than the sums of its parts and allowing for a new role for the architect to emerge.