Architecture for a Free Subjectivity. Deleuze and Guattari at the Horizon of the Real - Simone Brott @ Ashgate, e.book, June 2013

  • Architecture for a Free Subjectivity

    Deleuze and Guattari at the Horizon 

    of the Real

  • Simone Brott, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • Architecture for a Free Subjectivity reformulates the French 
    philosopher Gilles Deleuze's model of subjectivity for architecture,
    by surveying the prolific effects of architectural encounter, 
    and the spaces  that figure in them. For Deleuze and his Lacanian 
    collaborator Félix Guattari, subjectivity does not refer 
    to a person, but to the potential for and event of matter becoming 
    subject, and the myriad ways for this to take place. 
    By extension, this book theorizes architecture as a self-actuating 
    or creative agency for the  liberation of purely "impersonal effects." 
    Imagine a chemical reaction, a riot in the banlieues, indeed a walk 
    through a city. Simone Brott declares that the architectural object 
    does not merely take part in the 
    production of subjectivity, but that it constitutes its own.

    This book is to date the only attempt to develop Deleuze's 

    philosophy of subjectivity in singularly architectural terms. 
    Through a screening of modern and postmodern, American and European 
    works,  this provocative volume draws the reader into a close 
    encounter with architectural interiors, film scenes, 
    and other arrangements, while interrogating the discourses of 
    subjectivity surrounding them, and the 
    evacuation of the subject in the contemporary discussion. 
    The impersonal effects of architecture radically 
    changes the methodology, just as it reimagines architectural 
    subjectivity for the twenty-first century.

    This book imagines and articulates an architectural subjectivity 
    privileged as impersonal effects, to be explored in the philosophy 
    of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, by retracing steps taken 
    earlier, in the  1970s and 1980s, by cultural and architectural 
    protagonists in the united States and japan. the following 
    discussions pursue a more abstract and, therefore, timely 
    investigation of the form and function of 
    impersonal effects in the architectural encounter.
    Subjectivity is, for Deleuze, not a person, but a power given to 
    immanent forces to act and to produce effects in the world. 
    In short, it is the field of what i call subjectivization, meaning 
    the potential for and event of matter becoming subject, and the 
    multiple ways for this to take place. 
    Deleuze, in fact, tends not to use the word subjectivity, speaking 
    instead of “affects”—the capacity to affect and be affected—and 
    “pre-personal singularities,” meaning those irreducible qualities 
    or powers that act independently of any particular person. 
    To walk, to see, to love—these are general or anonymous capacities 
    that function in a very real sense prior to the personological 
    Singular, here, does not mean specific or rare, but the reverse: 
    the functions to sleep or to laugh are singular because sleeping 
    and laughing always retain a certain abstract quality or 
    impersonality, no matter who sleeps or laughs.
    For Deleuze, the world is composed of so many singularities, 
    which together resonate silently toward a mystery of something 
    always already yet to come. the subject is understood, therefore, 
    not as identity but as a convergence of singularities immanent to 
    an encounter. 
    Deleuze is critical of both phenomenology 
    and psychoanalysis, as still engaging a classical (Cartesian) 
    notion of subject as individual or free agent, a form of subjectivity 
    premised on the separation of the subject and the object of that 
    subject’s attention. 
    In Deleuze’s worldview, the ordinary identity, the “i” of the 
    representational ego, is a ‘surface effect’ of impersonal processes 
    of differentiation and the repetition of pre-personal singularities.
    What i call the impersonal effects are the inchoate, 
    not-yet-determined fragments of architectural encounter, 
    as opposed to the personal effects of identity, individuality or 
    the constituted collective. 
    Effect is not, in Deleuze’s sense, ephemeral—an effect of something
    more primary; but rather, like a “magnetic effect,” 
    it is a productive force, an effect that works and creates. 
    By extension, the project here is to find and express, by 
    architectural means, the image of effects. 
    (Image, here, does not mean a photograph or 
    media image; but, rather, a live “arrangement”
    of effects at large in the world, like the realist cinema and 
    its image advocated by André Bazin.) 
    What qualifies such a pure (unmediated and unmediatic) image is 
    simply the mode in which it causes multiple effects to proliferate.
    Unlike personal effects (a watch, a ring, a condominium) that cling 
    to the personal body, the impersonal effects of architecture—such as
    those of a street, a store, or the bathroom at a party—belong to 
    everyone and to no one; they envelop the body from a distance, even
    when they are up close. however, the impersonal effects can always
    become repersonalized in their derivative mode where architecture 
    becomes objectified, the object of a proprietary relationship 
    (such as ‘my house’) where subject/object relations are restored.
    Personal effects in architecture generally produce a formalist 
    typology of effects, invoking a suite of terms such as plan and 
    gestalt—in other words, the entire discursive apparatus of ‘design.’
    But this is not to criticize such formalistic measures per se. 
    Only the most rigid and stultifying formalisms (for example, 
    those that prescribe architecture in advance and re-inscribe the 
    proprietary status of building, author, resident) must be avoided 
    when discussing or isolating impersonal effects. Architecture is not merely 
    what is made or planned, what is drawn or built. It also creates, 
    alters, and conditions interlocking subjectivized fields.

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