8th Annual Bassett Lecture: Geographimages: Ecology of Images as Modes of Existence - Geopolitical Transformations of Milieus
Professor Anne Sauvagnargues
Peel Lecture Theatre, School of Geographical Sciences
For the 8th annual Bassett lecture, we welcome Professor Anne Sauvagnargues from University of Paris Nanterre who will present a talk entitled 'Geographimages: Ecology of Images as Modes of Existence - Geopolitical Transformations of Milieus'.
This lecture presents the notion of an ‘ecology of images’ as a processual development of non-humans and humans - including plants, animals and machines - in relation to what is ordinarily regarded as a strictly anthropomorphic trait of culture: art. Using suggestions found in Guattari, Deleuze, Simondon and Ruyer's philosophies, I argue that images are not only representations, but processes of individuation. Deleuze and Guattari, both singularly and together, define a sign as an individuating encounter—what Simondon calls a ‘signal’ – one that gains consistency as a vital perspective within a regime of signs, or within an ecological semiotics. Such semiotics are always plural, characterized by interactions between material, biological and social codings; between functional qualities and associated milieus. Therefore, connecting ethology, robotics, and evolutionary biology to art history, I argue that images are sensory-motor individuations, and that fabricated images (such as Art) have to be connected to the geographical transformation of the milieu. This conception of individuation through geographimages transforms our conception of Fine Art, Urbanism and Landscaping as ecological habitations. I argue that geographimages are collective and not individual, ecological not imaginary, existential territories and not representations. These milieus become diversified through collective assemblages of habitation. Following Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus, I figure their conception of signs as Spinozist. This leads to what I call a becomology of regimes of signs; connecting linguistic, discursive signifiers to asignifying material, including vital, technical, and social codings. I will argue that Geographimages invite us to draw connections between the Guattarian ritornello of The Machinic Unconscious, its development in A Thousand Plateaus, and the Bergsonian problematic of the image developed by Deleuze in his work on cinema. I define an image, therefore, as a vital process of differenciation, which is no longer subservient to the problematic of reproduction, thereby shedding its status as a copy of an original. Liberated from this representative and reproductive function, an image reveals its productive potential: as a sensory-motor individuation, a sensible centre of indetermination, unfolding its fan of perceptions, actions, subjective and material affections. This semiotics defines zones of individuation in the fashion of Uexküll’s animal worlds - complex clusters of milieus; collectives modes of subjectivation, defining plural, virtual universes of reference.
Anne Sauvagnargues is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Paris Nanterre. A specialist in aesthetics and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, Gilbert Simondon, Raymond Ruyer, she co-directs the collection 'Lignes d’art' with Fabienne Brugère for Presses Universitaires de France. She is the author of numerous works, including Deleuze and Art (Bloomsbury 2013), Artmachines: Deleuze, Guattari, Simondon (Edinburgh University Press 2016), and Deleuze. L’empirisme transcendental (Presses Universitaires de France 2008, forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press).
The Bassett Lecture is held every year in honour of Dr Keith Bassett, a critical geographer and long-time Senior Lecturer at the School of Geographical Sciences. Bristol. Though formally retired, Dr Bassett continues to write, teach, and contribute to the intellectual life of the School and University. The lecture series recognizes Dr Bassett's work and contributions in the fields of social and geographical theory, critical geographies of political economy, urbanism, social movements and social justice, political ecology, and critical socio-legal studies.