Relationscapes Movement, Art, Philosophy - Erin Manning (MIT University Press, Usa, 2009)

Movement, Art, Philosophy
Erin Manning

With Relationscapes, Erin Manning offers a new philosophy of movement challenging the idea that movement is simple displacement in space, knowable only in terms of the actual. Exploring the relation between sensation and thought through the prisms of dance, cinema, art, and new media, Manning argues for the intensity of movement. From this idea of intensity—the incipiency at the heart of movement—Manning develops the concept of preacceleration, which makes palpable how movement creates relational intervals out of which displacements take form.
Discussing her theory of incipient movement in terms of dance and relational movement, Manning describes choreographic practices that work to develop with a body in movement rather than simply stabilizing that body into patterns of displacement. She examines the movement-images of Leni Riefenstahl, Étienne-Jules Marey, and Norman McLaren (drawing on Bergson's idea of duration), and explores the dot-paintings of contemporary Australian Aboriginal artists. Turning to language, Manning proposes a theory of prearticulation claiming that language's affective force depends on a concept of thought in motion.

Relationscapes is a radically empirical book, working directly out of examples and delving into the complexity of relations these examples suggest. It takes a "Whiteheadian perspective," recognizing Whitehead's importance and his influence on process philosophers of the late twentieth century—Deleuze and Guattari in particular. Relationscapes is truly a transdisciplinary book, not aiming to cover the ground of a particular discipline but making clear how the specificity of a particular inquiry can alter key questions that emerge in the interstices between disciplines. It will be of special interest to scholars in new media, philosophy, dance studies, film theory, and art history.

Technologies of Lived Abstraction series

About the Author

Erin Manning holds a University Research Chair in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal. She is director of the Sense Lab and the author of Politics of Touch: Sense, Movement, Sovereignty and Ephemeral Territories: Representing Nation, Home, and Identity in Canada.


"A groundbreaking work! There is currently no book I know of like it in the thoroughness, depth, and sweep. Relationscapes offers a unique approach to a central series of issues in both continental philosophy and cultural theory."
Andrew Murphie, School of English, Media, and Performing Arts, University of New South Wales
"What commonalities do the Aboriginal paintings by Dorothy Napangardi, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and Clifford Possum share with the Western images of McLaren, Leni Riefenstahl, and David Spriggs? Each artist's production, as explored by Manning, unfolds a topology of the mind, an elasticity of movement between feeling and thinking. Manning's writing is itself a bath of sensory experiences as she brings these art pieces to life. Relationscapes creates ephemeral anchors for new journeys."
Barbara Glowczewski, author of the Dream Trackers digital project, senior researcher at the Laboratory of Social Anthropology, Collège de France
"Relationscapes proposes a new and systematic rethinking of movement which at the same time revitalizes classic questions in esthetics and philosophy: how does force engender forms, how do forms capture force, how does movement engender itself, what is the space-time of movement's incipience, what is the new, what is a gesture? The analysis is subtle and finely woven. The author's movement of thought seamlessly unfolds before the reader, bringing into emergence a world of teeming intensities and forces. Movement, perception, body, image, time, space, rhythm, all of these notions are reformulated at the crossroads of art and philosophy. A scintillating book, of great power and originality."
José Gil, Department of Philosophy, New University of Lisbon

Read Introduction pdf