The Plasticity of Process

(abstract submitted to the "duration [before and] after media" conference, hosted by ocad university)

Amsterdam Surf

The Plasticity of Process: Intuition as Method in Research-Creation

Sean Smith and Barbara Fornssler
European Graduate School
Department of Biological Flow

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"One might as well discourse on the subject of the cocoon from which the butterfly is to emerge, and claim that a fluttering, changing, living butterfly finds its raison d'être and fulfillment in the immutability of its shell. On the contrary, let us unfasten the cocoon, awaken the chrysalis; let us restore to movement its mobility, to change its fluidity, to time its duration." (Bergson, The Creative Mind, p.17)

In contrast to the rational intellect and spatialization of time that currently characterizes Western metaphysics, philosopher Henri Bergson proposes the continual flow of time that is duration, with intuition its proper method of knowing. In seeking to account for change and becoming, Bergson foreshadows the "minor" science of Deleuze and Guattari some decades later. This "hydraulic" model of minor science becomes the initial condition of possibility for a project of research-creation by the Department of Biological Flow titled "Walking is In(di)visible." Beginning with a surf on the waves of pedestrian gait in urban space, we have attempted to develop a number of interrelated processes to a state at which they have just ceased to be fragile enough for one's imagination to take over and build upon their frameworks. Rather than each artwork in the cluster standing as a discrete point from which a trajectory may be neatly considered in retrospect, "Walking is In(di)visible" emerges as a continual folding of past praxis into present process while drawing future questioning into an expressive now. In presenting works from this series we seek to open a dialogue with Bergson's notions of duration and intuition, engaging themes of the everyday gesture, folding density, the plasticity of craft, and the politics of consent.

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