29 August 2020


 seeing as most people viewing my work are coming from my own facebook/instagram sharing, and are viewing on mobile i'm trying to have a bit of a rethink of how this all exists

i like it online, i think the desktop version works, but i feel like its not engaging people

there are a couple of changes i have planned

and im going to go back to unity to work out how to develop it as a mobile app - because maybe then people would explore the space? maybe it could be something that gets regularly updated

new spaces could be added?

i dunno it feels like it opens it up more to a way that people are engaging with.

01 August 2020

A Rhizomatic Approach to Disorientating Language and Embracing Hapticality

flitting around the scene

attempting to form some



of writing - befitting this

moment ahead

attempting not to make you

lay your head.

A study into ginger, 

turmeric, and potatoes,

offers some guidance 

for the

disparate structure —

some verticality

clear from one point to the next,

other moments stretching

attention, split screen

hundreds of monitors, like

looking into

a security office from any


Disorientation could be described … as the “becoming oblique” of the world, a becoming that is at once interior and exterior, as that which is given, or as that which gives what is given its new angle. Whether the strangeness is in the object or in the body that is near the object remains the crucial question (Ahmed, 2006, p162)

What I want to try and present here is an examination into the methodology, methods, and contexts within which I am trying to create a study in making language fugitive, embracing hapticality, and disorientating it, to take terms from Fred Moten and Sara Ahmed.

Language is enmeshed through social consciousness, effecting every decision we make. It is something that we can only ever learn, rather than just acquire, and the way we learn it places us within a wider collective. In some instances, this offers value and reinforcement, but in many other ways it provides a prison to reside in. How can we move beyond the milieu of language? One that finds itself rooted in heteronormative, anglo-centric ideals. How do we rationalise the fact that language is just a creation of someone else, a total fabrication that only makes sense due to the compounded history of its use?

What follows is an exposition into a rhizomatic methodology, trying to create a sense of what Fred Moten calls ‘hapticality’ in the way in which I create work.

when Black Shadow sings “are you feelin’ the feelin?’’ he is asking about something else. He is asking about a way of feeling through others, a feel for feeling others feeling you. This is modernity’s insurgent feel, its inherited caress, its skin talk, tongue touch, breath speech, hand laugh. This is the feel that no individual can stand, and no state abide. This is the feel we might call hapticality. (Harney and Moten, 2013, p98)

Rhizomatic Methodology

I am situating my practice from a rhizomatic methodology that entails both writing and making in a generative space that allows a cross-dissemination of ideas that isn’t structured rigidly. In a way that allows shifts to take place whether between ideas, modes of making, or what is underpinning my work.

I have also situated a lot of what I’m doing around ideas of language, how it functions, the inconsistencies of language, and how it is a made up thing. So in this way it subverts a direct notion of rhizomes as Deleuze and Guattari stipulate it, but in repurposing this as a methodology it allows a freedom from, or potentially, using a term from Fred Moten, a fugitive course of working through rhizomatic thinking and doing. However, it should be noted that there is a difference between freedom and fugitivity, I see freedom existing as something that is offered to me by my position in the world, the lived experiences I have, and my place to have the opportunity to work openly. Fugitivity functions as a sliding away from the predetermined ‘norms’ of working, writing and making. It allows a functioning within an institutional framework, and the academy, while finding paths to traverse that elude and duck away from the homogenising framework present within academic/institutionalised writing and making. (Moten, 2014)

Through this rhizomatic methodology, I have been trying to employ different methods of working that allows dispersed thinking and deciphering of ideas. Two of the key working methods I have tried to situate myself in are free writing and subconscious making.

Free writing, or stream of conscious writing, allows for a form that removes established protocols of writing, such as formatting, grammar, spelling, and coherence around what is being posited. It allows thinking to take place in all directions, it allows moments to err, to question, to rethink, and to establish links between what can feel like disparate thoughts. It allows new thinking to flourish and diverge, often within moments of each other; and then after a chance to reappraise what it is that you have been thinking, find ways to further delve into ideas that are bubbling under the surface.

For me as well, free writing allows the opportunity to write in a way that can feel more poetic, that allows a shift between prose and poetry as a way of understanding. Sometimes using mechanisms such as rhyming or rhythm feel as valid to dig into an idea, as prolonged meditation on a point that exists only within your mind.

Using the rhizome as a basis for a methodology allows the generation of ideas to take place as a constant ongoing process, as opposed to something static, existing only within one place or time. The making process takes place in a state of flux, it is something that is volatile, and in someways something we could question as whether it is truly existent. 

I find a link to this form of generative, process-based working as linking to the metaphysical paradox of the ‘Ship of Theseus’, because when all of the work is existing within a realm of constant process, with no defined beginning or end, does the work, or the project of research find itself as the same throughout? As the boundaries shift, as the work that is being created is repurposed and recontextualised, is it the same piece of work? And in the same vein, when this links up to language, how does a constantly evolving language ever find a way to situate itself as a defined ‘language’? Because what we describe as English today, in parts widely differs from how it was situated when it was first collected together, and even how it was used 10, 20, 50, and 100 years ago.

Within the notion of the rhizome, one key is the removal of hierarchies, Deleuze and Guattari posit the rhizome in contrast to the arborescent structure of using the tree as an analogy for thinking. The arborescent functions alongside Cartesian ideas around dualism, positing binaries as a way of contending and thinking through ideas. The arborescent model only allows for unidirectional thinking, one point must lead on to the next and it has to be a constant development of a thought - i.e. Darwinian evolution. In contrast, the rhizome allows thinking to take place in a way where connections can be drawn between any thought and another, there is no hierarchy in place to pride one idea over another, everything is seen as equally as valuable. 

The principles of the rhizome set out by Deleuze and Guattari can provide a clear view of what a rhizome can be, and how we can enact this.

Deleuze and Guattari introduce A Thousand Plateaus by outlining the concept of the rhizome (quoted from A Thousand Plateaus):

  • 1 and 2. Principles of connection and heterogeneity: "...any point of a rhizome can be connected to any other, and must be";
  • 3. Principle of multiplicity: it is only when the multiple is effectively treated as a substantive, "multiplicity", that it ceases to have any relation to the One;
  • 4. Principle of asignifying rupture: a rhizome may be broken, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines;
  • 5 and 6. Principle of cartography and decalcomania: a rhizome is not amenable to any structural or generative model; it is a "map and not a tracing". (Wikipedia, Rhizome)

I find the fourth principle, “asignifying rupture” particularly important - the idea can be broken, but it will start up again, whether as something linked to an older line of thought, or reemerges in a new line. 

Rhizomes do not propagate by way of clearly delineated hierarchies but by underground stems in which any part may send additional shoots upward, downward, or laterally. There is no hierarchy. There are no clear lines of descent. A rhizome has no beginning or end. It is always in the middle. All that is required to grow potatoes is burying the discarded skin of a potato. They simply begin again wherever they are. The key to the rhizome, and the reason Deleuze and Guattari take it up as a way of thinking about not only books but things in general, is that the rhizome continually creates the new. It is not predictable. It does not follow a linear pattern of growth and reproduction. Its connections are lateral not hierarchical. (Adkins, 2015, p23)

Alongside this - the rhizome as a way of thinking about work has also allowed for it to be thought of within the fifth principle of cartography, laying out a map of connections between divergent ideas and forms of making. This mapping takes the form of documentation of changing work and working environments, whether through photographing or videoing work in various iterations of existence, or through the connections that can be drawn between physical objects within the space of either the studio or somewhere else work is being shown. Not only the exteriority of physical research exists within this cartography, interiority, the ideas that have yet to fully manifest, the ones that I feel unsure whether to make physical, also exist within this mapping. Navigating day to day life, reality television, interactions with people, with my cat, autopilot journeys to the studio from home and back, all leave a mark on the map.

I want to situate this cartographical experience within Ahmed’s work around disorientation, taking disorientation to stipulate a method of confusion as a means of advancing research. Within the rhizomatic methodology, there is not a straight line always to be drawn between differing ideas that arise during researching. Engaging in a material-led practice that is attempting to draw on subconscious making can often feel in opposition to pursuing academic research.


Confusion is generative. 

Disorientation is generative.


Staring into the rabbit hole opens vast new opportunities to follow the old lines of the rhizome and develop new ones. The research and work acts as though another body in the space,

If the sexual involves the contingency of bodies coming into contact with other bodies, then sexual disorientation slides quickly into social disorientation, as a disorientation of how things are arranged. The effects are indeed uncanny: what is familiar, what is passed over in the veil of its familiarity, becomes rather strange. (Ahmed, p162)

Through intimate engagement with the research, it begins to take on a form of its own. The project becomes living and breathing, an embodiment of your ideas in a new form. It reinforces a strangeness, a confusion that is necessary to move the research forward. As Henry Rodgers suggests, “should we find ourselves in moments of queer confusion, it would do us well to remember that confusion is productive for it always leads to yet another critical thought.” (Rodgers, 2007, p16) It can present itself as a wall that feels like you’re banging your head against, but it is all worthwhile, even in the moments that feel static.


Another method I have been using in conjunction with trying to think and work rhizomatically is a bastardisation of the term echolalia. The etymology of echolalia shows it is derived from “the Greek ἠχώ, meaning “echo” or “to repeat”, and λαλιά (laliá) meaning “speech” or “talk”” (Wikipedia, Echolalia), and it is often used to describe the mechanisms used by young children as they begin to learn to speak. It can also be viewed as imitative learning, with young children mimicking the sounds they hear the people around them use as they begin to assign sounds as semiotic signs.

Within my own practice I have adopted the term echolalia to refer to both making work through repetition, and verbatim copying of quotes from different sources. Alongside this, using repetition has become a signifier for language as a whole, the way that even after being young children we still learn through repetition, we assign meaning to things through a repetitive use, or description, of what something should be, or is like. 

Engaging with echolalia as a making method allows for a forensic look into the materiality of what is being used, how it responds to different actions, how it is made up, and how it can be transformed through repetition. Within my own practice, I have taken to looking at yarn and different means of shaping yarn through repetitive action, starting first with crocheting and later looking at knot tying. In both the crocheting and knot tying you see the way in which repetition allows something to form and change shape and composition. Through the repetitive making, it becomes clear how addition layers effect the entirety of what is being made, whether that is shown through an error in the crocheting that changes the shape of the piece, or how the density of the knot builds as more layers are knotted around it. And for me, this signifies how language functions as a collective knowledge, in the same way one change effects the shape of the crocheting, minor changes take root in english, slowly changing the way we spell or use words. With language we can work through the etymology of a word, which in a sense becomes its material, while then starting to see how the shape of language can change through the recontexualisation of a word, or how words develop leaving lingering traces of its past life in a different societal moment. Language is ultimately palimpsestuous, especially within the colonial and postcolonial sites english has found itself situated. It adopts slang and patois, as a means of assimilation and control. (Footnote: Colonial and postcolonial control has also been asserted through forcing political and economic discourse to be carried out in the coloniser language, alongside minor attempts to encourage assimilation to the colonisers’ culture through the adoption of certain slang.)

Through using echolalia, research changes from being referential to others’ work, to becoming psychosomatic allowing an embodiment of ideas to manifest through repetitive making, and the space for thinking these repetitive actions allow. Meaning becomes embodied through the generation of work, it comes from spending time with the work, allowing other ideas to gestate within the maker and subconsciously emerge through the work. It builds on the way the world is formed through repetition, whether that be on the natural level of the cycle of nature and seasons (Footnote: And inherent in this, and linking to the way a mistake or error causes a change to the overall structure, we can also see the links to climate change as a compounding of historical errors and disrespect to the natural world.), or how we now in the technological age repeat, mimic, and mirror ourselves through online platforms. 

To enable a wider understanding of what informs my working methods, and the context I am engaging with to create work, I have been looking at ways in which to democratise the exhibition space, following on from the removal of hierarchies discussed earlier related to rhizomes. This is as much an ethical issue for me, as it is one based off of the ideas of the rhizome. In delineating hierarchies, I want to make sure that all ideas of what is being shown are valid in the space, that there is not a wrong answer, and that allows the work to be referred to within the viewer’s own lived experiences. In trying to communicate this, and allow the viewers’ interpretations to be reflected back, the idea of a research/resource space (Harris, 2019) alongside any exhibited work is my ideal scenario, or if not potentially some online portal that allows access to what it is that has informed me, and somewhere where viewers can leave information they think may be relevant, or is at least relevant to them. It, in a sense, becomes an attempt at crowd-sourcing context for the work, allowing the work to continue to function on the rhizomatic level where new lines can be drawn, whether attached to old lines or entirely new. This keeps the exhibited work in the state of flux the rhizome entails, “a 'rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo.’” (Deleuze and Guattari, 2005, p25)

This communal library, or research/resource space, exists as a method of presentation, and runs in contradiction to the use of repetition in the working method of echolalia. While the echolalia is about the use of repetition and what can be seen through how we repeat things, in this form of presenting, I do not want the exhibiting to become about echoing only the ideas I have been putting forward, but to become an open forum for a shared engagement with the work. Adding to the cartographical practice, and enabling the viewer to become part of the mapping process of the overall research project.

The work and research exists at the periphery of finality, continuing in motion, in flux. Attempting to embody the hapiticality discussed by Moten and Harney,

Hapticality, the touch of the undercommons, the interiority of sentiment, the feel that what is to come is here. Hapticality, the capacity to feel through others, for others to feel through you, for you to feel them feeling you, this feel of the shipped is not regulated, at least not successfully, by a state, a religion, a people, an empire, a piece of land, a totem. (p98)

This hapticality disrupts the hierarchies in the Deleuzian and Guttarian way, creating an entanglement of maker and viewer, where both function separately and in conjunction. Where both parties contribute to the ongoing research, attempting to disseminate and decode multiple uses of language. Looking for the mirroring and repeating, of ideas and of self; the embodiment of language through physical ephemera.


Other Sources

  • Harris, A., Artist Talk, 11/10/2019, Lecture
  • Ceglarz, J., ‘Queer methods and matters: Crisco, Palimpsestuousness and Faggoting’, 23/10/2019, Lecture part of Artistic Research Symposium
  • Hartman, S., and Moten, F., ‘Fugitivity and Waywardness’, Arika, http://arika.org.uk/archive/items/episode-6-make-way-out-no-way/fugitivity-and-waywardness [Last Accessed 09/12/19]
  • Rodgers, H., ‘Queertexturealities and Erotic Faculties’, 23/10/2019, Lecture part of Artistic Research Symposium
  • Schwab, M., ‘The Exposition of Practice as Research’, 23/10/2019, Lecture part of Artistic Research Symposium

1 week old

 i keep saying this but i want to come back to writing for myself - to get thoughts out, or just to think through things through text does t...