BRYN MAWR REVIEW OF COMPARATIVE LITERATUREVolume 6, Number 1 (Winter 2007)
Gary Shapiro, Archaeologies of Vision: Foucault and Nietzsche on Seeing and Saying.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
458 pp. ISBN 0226750469.
Enactive Art: Thinking and Multiplicity
In Archaeologies of Vision, Gary Shapiro sets out to change our understanding of the role of vision and its archaeology in Nietzsche and Foucault, and in particular to suggest the importance to both thinkers of exploring alternatives to the dominant regimes of the visible. He takes issue above all with the notion that Foucault critiques, or even rejects, vision and visibility because of their inscription within the modern operations of power as surveillance, disciplining, and, more recently, bio-power. As a counter to this widespread misperception of the aims of Foucault's critique, Shapiro claims that we need first, to examine the archaeologies of vision, that is, the conditions, mechanisms, and practices of rendering visible, and, second, to reevaluate the role of vision and visibility in Foucault, as well as in the work of his greatest single influence, Nietzsche. Disagreeing with, among others, Martin Jay, Shapiro argues that Foucault, rather than showing that vision as such is dangerous, is interested in describing the rise and organization of various forms of visibility and should, therefore, be seen not as a critic but as an archaeologist of vision:
So it is not a question of denigrating vision; it is rather a question of being alert to the different visual practices, often quite conflicting, that operate in the same cultural space and sorting out their specific structures and effects. Foucault has no arguments against vision in general. He is an archaeologist of the visual who is alert to the differential character of various visual regimes and to the disparate and possibly conflicting visual practices of a single era. (9)
In Shapiro's view, Foucault not only does not disqualify vision but, on the contrary, diagnosing and critiquing the changing dominant modes of visibility -- from representation in Velázquez to simulacra in Magritte or Warhol -- he in fact strives for an alternative mode of visibility which would resist the dominant patterns of making visible.
At the core of Shapiro's Archaeologies of Vision lies the idea of extending Foucault's archaeological approach from discursive practices to the regimes of the visible. Shapiro is interested in developing an archaeology of the visual that would be able to explore the changing practices of visibility and, in particular, the shifting formations of visibility in painting. As he puts it in the Preface, "Archaeologies of Vision aims at restating the question of what constitutes the history of art in the language of Nietzsche, Foucault, and some of their intermediaries such as Bataille, Klossowski, and Deleuze . . ." (xiv). As I have already mentioned, crucial to this argument is Shapiro's contention that the critique of ocularcentrism in Nietzsche and Foucault does not mean an abandonment of compromised vision and visibility for the sake of a nonocular or nonvisual orientation but entails an attempt to explore alternative modes of visibility. To that effect, working closely with Nietzsche's and Foucault's numerous remarks on painting, Shapiro engages in a series of ekphrases, that is, in a succession of verbal descriptions or accounts of paintings and works of visual art. Indeed these numerous descriptions and readings of a wide range of artworks from Raphael, Hals, Velázquez, and Lorrain, to Manet, Kandinsky, Klee, Magritte, Warhol, and Michals, constitute the better part of the book. As a result, any sustained attempt to address Shapiro's study would have to engage with the details of these numerous interpretations, since it is these varied readings that trace the archaeology of the visible the author is after, an archaeology which both tracks the changing patterns of visibility and diagnoses the often disparate or even conflicting visual practices of the same age. Obviously, to undertake such a response would require a different venue, one where there would be ample time to discuss in some detail particular paintings, say Raphael's Madonnas, Manet's paintings challenging perspective, or Magritte's simulacra of the pipe. It would entail analyzing not only Nietzsche's and Foucault's comments discussed by Shapiro but also Shapiro's own commentary on these readings, as well as his numerous extensions of such ekphrases to other paintings or artists. Here I can only encourage you to read this fine book to become acquainted with the particulars of these interesting descriptions and intricately woven commentaries. I would draw your attention in particular to readings which, at least for me, stand out among the many proposed in this long and careful study: Shapiro's reading of Foucault on Las Meninas, his comments on perspective in Manet's paintings, or his analysis of Warhol and Pop Art in a debate with Arthur Danto.
Given these constraints, I will focus in the remainder of my presentation on one of the most interesting strands of Archaeologies of Vision, namely on what I take to be its underlying argument with regard to contemporary art. Shapiro sees contemporary art in terms of its different way of thinking and instantiating the visual: no longer through the prism of representation, which relies on the notion of the original/real to be represented/copied, but instead as continuously multiplying simulacra. This reading highlights the fact that one of the most important ways in which art can resist the monological tendency of many modern visual regimes is through repetition deployed as an alternative to imitation. Thus, one could say that the visibility produced by art today is one of intensifying repetition, no longer concerned with the proper or exact representation of the non-existent original. The thinking of the visible at work in such art is a thinking attentive to difference and repetition, and even more than that, a thinking which itself produces difference and repetition. This approach evolves out of the intersection of Nietzsche's notions of multiple perspectives and the eternal return of the same, Foucault's comments on modern painting, and, above all, Deleuze's discussion of the phantom and the simulacrum. Set in the context of Warhol and Pop Art, this reading engages polemically with Danto's interpretation of Pop Art, which Shapiro sees as "making the (traditional) Hegelian point that art at its highest is a reading, articulation, and presentation of the collective soul (Spirit or Geist) to itself" (353). What worries Shapiro in Danto's approach is its elimination or drastic reduction of the role of ekphrasis, of the verbal account of visual works, and the shift of focus onto the manner in which Warhol's work raises philosophical questions not through its visual appearance but through its reflection on the status of the work of art and its relation to reality. In short, Warhol's work is no longer a representation of contemporary consciousness but "it is contemporary consciousness itself" (353). Danto's interpretation takes its cue from the traditional duality of reality and art, duality which seems to disappear in Warhol's work, in which a Brillo Box (the artwork) becomes indiscernible from a Brillo box. Shapiro suggests that in Danto's view, it is only theory, specifically a theory of art and of consciousness, that distinguishes between Warhol's artwork and its exact counterpart in the supermarket. In the end, "Danto thinks like a Platonist, who sees the form or idea, not itself visible, that differentiates the artwork from a mere being" (356).
By contrast, for Foucault, the multiplying Brillo boxes draw our attention to the matrix or the grid of multiplicity. These boxes no longer refer to the "original," "real" Brillo box, but instead keep ceaselessly referencing one another in a spreading series of phantoms or simulacra. What Warhol effects through repetition is an emptying out of meaning, as the boxes no longer refer to reality, effecting a sudden illumination of multiplicity with nothing at its center. For Foucault, Warhol's work cuts its relation to reality, and, as a result, as Shapiro suggests, the boxes refer to nothing and "they say nothing" (357). What thus becomes most significant about Warhol's art is its gesture of abandoning the dualism of the original and the copy and of exchanging this duality for the grid of multiple simulacra. The notions of the simulacra and the phantom which Shapiro deploys in his reading come from the Epicureans, who "held that objects throw off or radiate infinitely many phantasms or simulacra, and so they are taken by Deleuze and Foucault as providing a model of thinking that avoids the closures and unities of Platonic or Hegelian dialectics" (358). The model of reality in Deleuze and Foucault is no longer one based on the mirroring effects of the original and the copy, the idea and its appearance, but, instead, one which operates on the principle of infinitely multiplying phantasms or simulacra. This shift from the model of reality which casts thinking in terms of representation to the notion of continuously differing simulacra produces a requisite transformation in thinking: "replacing a representationalist image of thought with a form of thinking that understands difference and repetition as primary features of being that need not be traced back to the concepts of identity and resemblance" (358).
As Shapiro points out, Deleuze finds an analogue for this revolution in thought in art's shift from representation to abstraction, in which art abandons the image but not, however, visuality itself. On the contrary, the forgoing of the image opens up a new perspective on visuality, allowing painting, and more broadly, visual and media art, to examine, in a quasi-archaeological manner, the emergence and constitution of the modern regime(s) of the visual. In Foucault, Shapiro remarks, this change corresponds to the difficult manner of thinking acategorically, that is, apart from categories, without allowing such thinking released from the organizing principle of categories to become simply tantamount to what Foucault calls "stupidity." Deleuze's remarks on Pop Art, which works by rupturing the hierarchical relation between originals and copies, shows how this different thinking evinces an ethical dimension. In Deleuze's formulation, Warhol's use of technological means of reproducing images produces an ontological shift in reality, in which the foundational conception of the original and its always imperfect copies becomes displaced in favor of the notions of difference and otherness evidenced by the multiplying simulacra. As Shapiro puts it in his remarks on Deleuze's reading of Warhol, "the truth of art is not in imitation, but in repetition" (362). Art thus becomes an emblem of the Nietzschean return of the same, where what returns and repeats itself are differences, differences which each time, with each recurrence, occur differently, resulting in an endless multiplication of difference as its own simulacrum.
I would like here to briefly examine this argument which Shapiro evolves from Deleuze and Foucault into the context of technology, or of what Heidegger calls the essence of technology, and which, for the purpose of keeping it distinct from the notion of technology understood as technological processes, means, or products, is referred to as technics or technicity. What prompts this manner of questioning is, on the one hand, the fact that, while Archaeologies of Vision repeatedly touches on the issue of technology, because of its specific interests and goals, it does not explicitly raise this problem as, historically speaking, increasingly determining both the status of art and its aesthetic practices. On the other hand, I am also interested in exploring whether contemporary art stops, as it were, at the moment of what Foucault calls "the sudden illumination of multiplicity itself." Do artworks like Warhol's point beyond a painterly instantiation of the grid of multiplicity, drawing attention precisely to the manner in which contemporary technicity subtends and organizes our regimes of the visual and their aesthetics of multiplicity?
My question has to do with the force of resistance and difference which both Deleuze and Foucault associate with the proliferation of simulacra. I agree with Shapiro that the visibility operating in terms of differentially repeating simulacra resists the monological or monocular tendencies of vision, testifying to the multiple and differential character of seeing, and complicating any claims about a possible unity of the practices of the visible. At the same time, this kind of displacement or, to put it more strongly, discarding, of the original/copy binary for the optics of multiplying simulacra without the original, as Benjamin may be taken to point out, lies at the heart of the operations of modern technology. Indeed, there are many indications that modern technology, or better, technicity, works on the principle of resistance to and the almost emblematic dispersion of the monological vision of reality. In this view, technicity can be seen in terms of its resistance to the older, monocular patterns of visibility, say in a manner parallel to the way that, for Foucault, disciplinary power replaced the monological law of the father. But then, as Foucault argues, bio-power has already displaced, or at least requalified and recast, the practices of disciplining and surveillance characteristic of modernity. Against this backdrop, the productive and regulative vectors of bio-power can be seen in Nietzschean terms as a further stage or a contemporary intensification of the will to power.
In a Heideggerian reading, bio-power and its regimes of visibility would signal another step in the intensification of the essence of technology, or of technicity. As Heidegger remarks in his 1941 lecture series, Basic Concepts, technology taken in this sense is an already decided mode of world-interpretation:
The modern position is the "technological." It is not technological because there are steam engines and then the combustion motor, but there are these things because the epoch is technological. What we call modern technology is not only a tool and a means, over and against which today's man can be a master or servant. Before and beyond these possible attitudes, technology is an already decided mode of world-interpretation, which determines not only the means of transportation, subsistence, and recreation but also the possibilities for any human attitude whatsoever . . . .That means the practical mastery of technology in its unconditional development already presupposes a metaphysical subjugation to technology. (15)
Modern technology succeeds brilliantly in calculation and calculative manipulation of reality, because the actual comes to be revealed as already enframed by technicity, that is, as in principle calculable, or in today's terms, as information, open not only to cognition but also to ceaseless reprocessing and engineering. Heidegger's claim here is that contemporary reality is shaped by a long-standing, metaphysical subjugation to technicity, subjugation which points back to ancient Greece, but which in fact becomes visible only retrospectively, at the time of modernity's culmination. As a matter of fact, this pointing back to Greece becomes itself visible only to the modern, technicist eyes, eyes which are already open before, as it were, we can see or deploy technological prostheses utilized for increased visibility. As Heidegger continues, "Accompanying this subjugation within us is an attitude that grasps everything according to plan and calculation, and does so with a view to vast time-spans [sic] in order willfully and knowingly to secure what can last for the longest possible duration" (Basic Concepts 14). This metaphysical subjugation disguises itself as will to power, which in turn presents itself as the human will to dominate and manipulate. It is indeed the human will to develop and master technology that indicates this long-standing subjugation to technicity, subjugation whose operative terms translate in the contemporary world into the global reach and density of the vectors of bio-power.
What I am suggesting here is that perhaps the multiplicity, the simulacra-like operations of modern visibility, already constitute channels of the essentially technicist -- at least in Heidegger's view -- operations of power. The issue, then, would be, on the one hand, what kind of effects technicity has on the possibilities of vision and visibility, and, on the other, the resistance capacity intrinsic in the visibility which operates on the principle of multiplying simulacra. Without doubt, simulacra resist the tendency of the metaphysical forms of visibility to seek the original, establish its centrality, and thus turn all simulacra into the always imperfect copies of the (missing) original. In fact, as Shapiro's study eloquently shows, what I am calling here tentatively "metaphysical visibility"-- and Deleuze would have probably agreed with this term -- is never simply monocular, despite its strong impulse in this direction. This metaphysical visibility has always been, at least potentially, a clash between monocular vision and visibilities operating in terms of phantoms or simulacra. Perhaps what we call the end of modernity is the stage at which this conflict emerges as constitutive of the metaphysical field of Western vision. If that were the case, then simulacra would be a matter of resistance in relation to the monological templates of the visual. However, the multiplicity of simulacra would at the same time indicate the deployment of the most contemporary vectors of technicity, as perhaps suggested by developments in genetic engineering, cloning, replication of information, etc.
Given Shapiro's diagnosis of contemporary art, a diagnosis with which I agree to a large extent, I would like to ask whether we perhaps need to give a further turn to what Foucault calls acategorical thinking. Specifically, what I would like to signal in this context is the degree to which such thinking operating in contemporary forms of the visual can be seen as enactive, that is, as enacting a transformed relatedness, contrasting with forms of relations instantiated by the technological regimes of the visual. I am choosing this term "enactive" deliberately in order to emphasize two points. First, the thinking at issue here, thinking exemplified in modernist and contemporary art, is not reflective, representational, or imitative, but constitutes, instead, a kind of act. Second, this thinking is not "inactive," with the prefix "in," even though it is often mistakenly taken to be so. As homophones, "enactive" and "inactive" sound identical and remain indistinguishable in speech. The distinction between enactive and inactive indeed becomes visible only in writing, and its becoming visible may signal an emergence of an altogether different visibility, one on whose parameters modernity has been laboring at least since Nietzsche. At stake in this play between "enactive" and "inactive" is a displacement of the notion that the enactive manner of thinking involved in art is simply inactive, that is, passive and without effect, or that its production of difference is just a reproduction devoid of transformative force or of any ability to intervene in the so called "real world." At one point in his book, Shapiro mentions the "force of painting" (323), the force which I would like to consider here more closely. One way to do this is to ask whether this force associated with painting can indeed be explained in terms of resistance to the forms of visibility produced in modern disciplinary or carceral societies. If that is the case, then such resistance risks being limited to reactive forces, while its seemingly creative impulse may simply constitute a version or a modality of reactive action responding to the disciplining and formative social forces. Would there be any room left for Nietzsche's sense of the creative force, one that would be beyond a yes and a no, an affirmative force to the second degree, so to speak: creative, and perhaps even transformative, without being reactive?
Returning to the first aspect of enactive thinking, we can see that, as an act, such thinking precedes theory and practices, reflection and doing. In the opening paragraph of "Letter on Humanism," Heidegger describes thinking as prior to both theory and practice: "Thinking does not become action only because some effect issues from it or because it becomes applied. Thinking acts insofar as it thinks. Such action is presumably the simplest and at the same time the highest, because it concerns the relation of Being to man" (Basic Writings 217). This "action" is the simplest, because it concerns the way in which the world has always already become open to us, the way it has been laid out, as Heidegger suggests in Basic Concepts using the word Weltauslegung (world-interpretation), but, more originarily, the laying out of the world. Such thinking is the highest not because it transcends the everyday world and practice, but because, conversely, everyday acting and living are always already embedded in it, embedded not in a transcendental but instead an originative, enacting manner. It is the highest for Heidegger because it lays out the vectors which shape the ways in which relations unfold and are carried out. Toward the end of the essay, Heidegger returns to this point: "Thus thinking is a deed. But a deed that also surpasses all praxis. Thinking towers above action and production, not through the grandeur of its achievement and not as a consequence of its effect, but through the humbleness of its inconsequential accomplishment" (262). This neither theoretical nor practical deed of thinking enacts, brings into being, and renders visible in a manner that is no longer metaphysical, and thus also no longer technicist. And it is not technicist because, as Heidegger points out, it does not make, produce, or effect -- it does not open up what is by enveloping it into the operations of power. Yet because this thinking does not produce or effect, from the point of view of the metaphysics of production, it appears to be "inactive," rather than "enactive." It seems to do nothing and, as such, to constitute the opposite of all action: it comes to be seen as the epitome of passivity and indifference, characterizations we know only too well from Marxist and Frankfurt School critiques of Heidegger.
Such thinking could be seen as enactive only when it calls into question and displaces the technicist laying out of the world, since within the already technicist operations of power, this thinking appears to be sapped of all force, an empty theorizing, with no desire or power to act. Yet this thinking is enactive precisely to the extent that it transforms the manner in which the world comes to be laid out and thus opened to interpretation and action, to practice and reflection. This way of thinking (en)acts by no longer subjugating the way that the world lays itself out for us to technicity. If technicity is a laying out of the world which presents the world, in the sense of rendering it present, as intrinsically available in its "postmodern," dazzling display of multiplicity, difference, and repetition, the thinking which, by contrast, would not subjugate itself to technicity would have to enact in a manner that, as I have suggested elsewhere, would free and disengage itself from power.
For Heidegger, such thinking is poietic; it acts and reveals poietically rather than technicistically, and, as such, finds itself at work in particular in artworks. This poietic thinking would be enactive in just this sense that, without producing or effecting anything, without acting in the usual sense of the term, it would call into question the technicist way in which the modern world opens and lays itself out as intrinsically available: as a multitude of differences available to various and increasingly flexible forms of calculation without the need to order them in relation to an origin or an original. In the context of Heidegger's engagement with technicity and the a-metaphysical ("a" privative) thinking, I would like to return to the question of the relation between the "sudden illumination of multiplicity itself," so critically important to Deleuze and Foucault, and technicity. Contemporary art most frequently challenges and resists the temptations of the monocular visibility, and here I agree with Shapiro, through the repetition of simulacra and the multiplicity of perspectives. But then, we also need to ask whether this multiplicity, whether Nietzschean, Deleuzian, or Foucauldian, is not "always already" outstripped by the technicist operations of power, and whether its illumination does not precisely throw light on the pervasiveness and multiplicity of operations with which technicity lays out today's world. Put differently, does not the archaeology of the contemporary visibility of the multiplicity of simulacra show this form of visibility to be precisely technicist? Are the resistances evinced by contemporary art intrinsic to the intensifying deployment of technicity or can art also elicit and draw out a different, poietic Auslegung, a non-technicist laying out of the world? This form of eliciting or educing would be the enactive thinking of art, its "deed" before theory and practice. It is on this question, I think, that our answer to questions about the status and significance of contemporary art, might pivot.
Thanking Gary Shapiro for his important and thought-provoking book, I would like to say that, giving us numerous illuminating comments on Nietzsche, Foucault, and Deleuze, on painting and the changing regimes of the visual, Archaeologies of Vision also did what the adjective I have just used to describe it said literally: it provoked me to think through the issue of visibility and multiplicity raised persuasively by the author. I hope that it continues to elicit questions and discussions crucial to our understanding of art.
Response by Gary Shapiro
Diagrams and Multiplicities
Krzysztof Ziarek frames the question of art's possibilities in terms of Heidegger's notion of poietic thinking. Relying on that thought -- which he has articulated and explored in powerful and nuanced ways elsewhere -- he asks whether the art of multiplicity is or can be an affirmative form of poietic thinking or whether it is necessarily in thrall to the reign of Technik. In Archaeologies of Vision (AV) I discuss the Heideggerian problematic of presence and absence in the visual discourse or metaphorics characterizing Western thought since Plato. Heidegger drew attention to the specifically visual character of the Platonic eidos and idea. He reads Plato's story of the cave, demonstrating how it obscures obscurity itself, in its artful construction of the stages of philosophical illumination (a demonstration that Luce Irigaray presupposes in "Plato's Hystera.") In Archaeologies of Vision I argue that Heidegger's questioning of vision's role in the Western metaphysical tradition need not be understood as a "denigration" of vision but as a stimulus to rethink what vision is. I claim that Foucault is rethinking vision in the wake of Heidegger and Nietzsche.
Still, I have some difficulties with Heidegger, and so with Ziarek's question. I hope that explaining them briefly at the outset will help to clarify the project of Archaeologies of Vision and perhaps help to articulate some of the ways in which I would like to continue to think about the possibilities for art. My questions to Heidegger and so to Ziarek center upon thinking, poietic thinking, and Technik. Yes, Heidegger made a decisive contribution in renewing the question was heisst Denken? ("what is thinking?"). But I have to agree with Alain Badiou that Heidegger is one-sidedly "poetic," seeing the poem as the only real possibility for thought. For example, he disvalues mathematics, understanding it as simply part of the calculating, measuring, and totalizing power of Technik. With Plato, Kant, Peirce, Bergson, Deleuze and others I would stress the thinking (and creative thinking) involved in mathematical thought.
The theme of the matheme and the poem leads to two related questions about multiplicity and affirmation. Is the art of the multiple affirmative or reactive? And, more generally, what are the possibilities of affirmative art today? Ziarek identifies one of the major topics of Archaeologies of Vision: its concern with the way in which the art of multiplicity can offer an alternative and possible resistance to "monocularism," or more generally, to restrictive visual regimes. He says that he agrees with me, both of us in the wake of Nietzsche, Foucault, Benjamin, Deleuze and others, that much of recent and contemporary art is indeed an art of multiplicity. Ziarek goes on to raise what he calls a Heideggerian question as to how this art, which engages in a multiplication of the simulacrum or the phantasm, is best understood in relation to technology or technicity (Technik). Does the art of multiplicity exhibit a resistance to technicity or does it in fact always operate under its sway and in its shadow? I raised a similar question in the first section of the book, titled "Iconoclasm and Indoctrination: The Taliban and the Teletubbies." When I was writing that section before 9/11, the Taliban had gained international cultural attention by their iconoclastic destruction of the monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan. However great the loss to art, religion, and history involved in those explosions -- which may in one sense be the largest scale iconoclastic act of all time -- the destroyers apparently understood it as a principled act of political and religious power. For them, those colossal statues were unclean, blasphemous, and forbidden idols. We can note that Mohammed Atta, captain of that day's hijackers, was also an iconoclast. He had written an MA thesis on the preservation of the traditional Arab city in the context of globalization/Americanization. For Atta the twin towers must not only have represented United States power, they must also have appeared as contemporary versions (simulacra?) of the Tower of Babel. Iconoclasm is typically straightforward in its attribution of power to the image and in its own exercise of power. In Archaeologies of Vision I paired an account of Taliban iconoclasm with some questions about the children's television program, The Teletubbies, where questions of power and principle are not so obvious. In other words, I think I was raising the question, in Ziarek's terms, whether this apparently most innocent delight for infants ought to be described as one that operated by means of the simulacrum of the TV screen to invite its audience to imagine themselves as cyborgs networked to an abyssal succession of simulacral images. Is The Teletubbies then simply a demonstration of the reign of technicity, sporting with its power in the bodies and minds of the young? Here Ziarek and I might both find it useful to invoke Heidegger's discussion of Technik.
Ziarek calls attention to my contrast of Foucault and Arthur Danto in their very different accounts of Andy Warhol. I suggest that Foucault is alert to the multiplicity of "the eternal phantasm," whereas Danto is captivated by the exact resemblance of Brillo Box and its mundane model while neglecting the multiplicity of the many boxes. Is Warhol then simply instantiating Technik in his multiplication of images? Or does his work taken on a larger scale -- not focusing as Danto does on a single replica of the Brillo Box -- interrogate the technological itself? Foucault's ekphrasis of Warhol mentions advertising images, car crashes, and electric chairs. He in turn is commenting on Deleuze's discussion of Warhol and Pop Art in Difference and Repetition. Deleuze explains that this work intervenes in a "daily life . . . [that is] standardized, stereotyped and subject to an accelerated reproduction of objects of consumption . . . in order to make the two extremes resonate -- namely the habitual series of consumption and the instinctual series of destruction and death. Art connects the tableau of cruelty with that of stupidity, and discovers underneath the consumption a schizophrenic clattering of the jaws, and underneath the most ignorant destructions of war, still more processes of consumption." Ziarek acknowledges the power of resistance in such art, but asks whether and how the art of the multiple in the age of Technik can be poietically productive and affirmative. I will attempt to answer his question by first clarifying Foucault's notion of the diagram (and emphasizing its affinities with Heidegger's idea of the productive Riss which is the originative opening of the work of art) and then raising some questions about how we are to understand Ziarek's concept of affirmative art.
In Archaeologies of Vision I give some attention to the Foucauldian notion of the diagram, which elicited some fine pages of commentary from Deleuze. The diagram is a dispositif, an arrangement of forces, a crossing of geometry, power, and invention. It is not merely a technicist device in the service of a holistic project of enframing. The diagram enacts (to use Ziarek's term, and to speak with Heidegger) by opening up, disclosing, and letting be. Heidegger's discussion of the originality of the work of art, its originative character, is relevant here. The Greek temple, as Heidegger describes it in "The Origin of the Work of Art," sets forth a world and lets the earth be an earth. Heidegger's elucidation of this originarity is couched in terms that suggest diagrammatic qualities: Gestalt, Riss, Abriss, Aufriss, Umriss, Grundriss. The Foucauldian notion of the diagram that I attempt to develop in Archaeologies of Vision is perhaps indebted to Heidegger in ways that might seem surprising if we think only of the contrast, say, between the Greek temple at Paestum and the Panopticon. The diagram, Foucault argues, is a form or manifestation of power/knowledge. It is not merely reactive or repressive but "productive" (Foucault's analogue of Ziarek's "enactive"?). Two of the several diagrams of art that I discuss in Archaeologies of Vision are Nietzsche's schema of the tragic theater in The Birth of Tragedy (BT) and Foucault's sketch of the development of a new conception of the space of viewing (the museum, gallery, and similar spaces) in his lectures on Manet and elsewhere. Nietzsche (in section 8 of BT) demonstrates the doubled perspective of the onlooker (Zuschauer) in the Greek theater. Nietzsche focuses on the architecture of the theater, and later he explicitly says that architecture is neither Apollonian nor Dionysian. It is, we might say, art in "the grand style." The theater involves a framing that enables what Nietzsche calls an Übersehen. The spectators simultaneously look down on the tragic actors on the skene and also look up at them in so far as they identify with the chorus in the orchestra below the skene. This diagram contrasts with what Nietzsche, in another diagrammatic analysis, calls the "one great Cyclops eye" of Socrates. I argue that for Nietzsche both the hidden image of archaic times and the double vision in the Greek theater were alternatives to the aesthetics of presence. In a fairly direct if unsubtle reading of Heidegger we might suppose that given the preplatonic situation of both of these visual practices, he might see them as enactive forms of visual thinking (borrowing Ziarek's term again), forms that bear a relationship to Platonic vision (as in the myths of Republic and Phaedrus) analogous to the relationship that the words of the presocratics have to the Platonic metaphysics of presence. Of course, both the hidden image in the archaic temple and the double vision of Greek theater involve a setup or dispositif, an arrangement of spaces and practices, that might be called technological. Would Heidegger or Ziarek see the reign of Technik as extending so far? I suspect not, if Technik involves calculation and predictability, as Ziarek suggests, for it seems that it is the happening of difference that emerges in these situations. But if these too are instances of Technik, then I wonder whether the notion has been extended so far that it no longer has a meaningful alternative or contrast.
By the time of Aristotle, the sense of the double perspective and so of the visual and performative dimension of tragedy has been almost completely obscured. Foucault's most highly developed analysis of the diagram is his discussion of the Panopticon, which has led to his being misconstrued by some commentators (e.g. Martin Jay) as being an anti-visual thinker. But I try to show in Archaeologies of Vision that Foucault understood the changes in art and its viewing practices that cluster for him around the figure of Manet as the development of another visual diagram. It replaces the transparency of Panoptic windows with the limitation to the frame and the canvas. Traditional illumination is discarded, indirect glances replace the gaze, the windows of the Panopticon are shuttered, and a new diagram of visibility is instituted. While revisionary art historical thinkers like André Malraux show how the museum and photographic reproduction reduce (and Heidegger would say enframe) art, Foucault sees that in some ways the museum and Manet's painting are productive.
Suppose that the modern system of the arts (as Paul Kristeller showed) takes form only in the eighteenth century; and suppose that its institutionalization tends, intentionally or not, to compartmentalize the arts, detaching them from their associations with festival and its social volatility. Let us acknowledge that the signature practice of the museum is close attention to visual surfaces, which practice tends to lead to dissociation of painting from the festive and the political, and that the museum thus becomes an emblem of modernism, understood, following Kant and Clement Greenberg, to consist in the establishment of distinct realms of the theoretical, the practical, and the aesthetic. Foucault can acknowledge all this and does in his lectures on Manet and in his discussion of the museum in "Fantasia of the Library." Yet even as the dispositif of the museum is crystallizing, its form provokes and allows consequences that were at first unintended. Manet's painting and Flaubert's Temptation of St. Anthony deploy the structures of library and museum to open up new possibilities of writing and seeing. Modernists may read this as brilliant ways of ironizing (and thus reinforcing) the fundamentals of genres and practices. Foucault, like Deleuze, thinks that irony is highly overvalued. While Foucault could be said to be situating and urbanizing the Heideggerian Riss or Gestalt, he is suspicious of positions like later Heidegger's occasional claim that anything which arises from Technik is necessarily caught up in a project of total reframing. The metanarratives involved in what we used to call the Plato-to-Nato story will yield, I think, to the kind of analysis that Foucault articulates in "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History."
I am suspicious of the monism, the re-emergence of the One, involved in Heidegger's concept of the current incarnation or dispensation of being, while I acknowledge the critical value of reflecting on the framing and manipulation implicit and explicit in our assumptions and practices. Here we have an issue about thinking that has provoked Heidegger's most acute (mostly French) readers and critics to ask penetrating questions, not rejecting his question about thinking, but questioning the limitations of the way in which he posed it: Why must the remains of the Presocratics and a few German poems form the horizon of the question?
Since, as Ziarek notes, much of Archaeologies of Vision is concerned with the question of ekphrasis, of what Foucault calls the "infinite relation" of seeing and saying, there may be a point in recalling some of the limitations in Heidegger's ekphrases. If Heidegger is our inspiration for understanding poietic thinking, should we not be very cautious -- following his call for "the cultivation of the letter" in the Humanism text -- in looking at his own writing? Consider the most celebrated and notorious Heideggerian ekphrasis, that of van Gogh's painting of the two shoes. I omit a quotation of this well-known, solemn invocation of a peasant woman's life on the earth and of the art historian Meyer Schapiro's equally naive description of the painting as van Gogh's meditation on his own situation through depicting a "personal object," supposedly his own shoes. Heidegger says about his ekphrasis "this painting spoke," and that reminds me of one of Nietzsche's notes: "if the visual arts could speak they would sound stupid to us." As Derrida demonstrated, both of these ekphrases foreclose the possibility of multiplicity, both return the two shoes to a single owner. The doubling of two left shoes, dramatically unlaced, is perhaps the simplest form of multiplicity, one that is amplified in Derrida's conceit of a "polylogue for n+1 female voices." (I note parenthetically that it is perhaps an unfortunate effect of Heidegger's monistic conception of Technik -- which tends to engulf the mathematical -- that the mathematical dimensions of essays like Derrida's "Restitutions" have been neglected by all readers, so far as I know.) That Heidegger did not thematize the question of ekphrasis -- as Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida, and Kristeva do -- should make us cautious in using his conception of poietic thinking to assess the prospects of the visual or spatial arts. We need to ask whether Heidegger's poietic thinking can count beyond one. When Heidegger says "this painting spoke," we want to ask the Nietzschean question "who is speaking?"
With all these reservations, let me say that I find Heidegger's thought about place and space enormously suggestive for thinking about the possibilities of contemporary art and the art to come, something that I tried to explore in writing about the American "earthworks artist" Robert Smithson (whose most famous work, Spiral Jetty, is in the Great Salt Lake).
For now, I want to turn to the issue/question of ekphrasis. As Ziarek observes, much of Archaeologies of Vision is devoted to the question of ekphrasis, the literary or discursive genre in which a verbal text describes or evokes a visual work of art -- as the subtitle says, the book concerns "Foucault and Nietzsche on seeing and saying." (I acceded to the editor's advice to reverse the chronological order of the names.) Specifically, I worry, explore, question, read and reread some of the ekphrases that these two thinkers produced. Although Foucault's essay on Las Meninas is well known, as is his little book on Magritte, there are many other accounts of painting scattered about in his writings, both in single books and in the many interviews and essays in Dits et écrits. A few have noticed Nietzsche's description of Raphael's Transfiguration, but he has much more to say about Raphael, Claude Lorrain, Dürer and others. I did not at first realize that it was this questionable genre of ekphrasis that was the nerve of the book, its obsessive line of flight. It is, I see in retrospect, my own gesture toward multiplicity, for I attempted to account for as many of these ekphrases as I could, extrapolating sometimes from a few sentences here or there, and occasionally adding a few of my own that seemed to amplify the practice of Nietzsche or Foucault. Sometimes I saw points of contact, contrast, or variation, as with Nietzsche's Greek theater and Foucault's Panopticon as diagrammatic structures, or Nietzsche's lordly naming of Raphael's hovering Christ as Apollo and Foucault's analysis of the floating image of the pipe in Magritte in their shared concern with the phantasm. I eventually saw that I was following Deleuze's suggestion that we must read Foucault diagonally, experimentally, seeing the entire project across essays and interviews as well as the more celebrated books. I was choosing an angle, a perspective, a line of flight marked by a series of crossroads, intersections, of word and image, as Foucault explains in his review of Panofsky. I began to wonder how philosophical textual practices were related to images, or what sort of thinking happens in the crossings or chiasms generated by this practice. It was a revelation to find that Foucault had added an illustration to the second edition of the History of Madness, Frans Hals's seventeenth-century group portrait of The Regentesses of the Old Men's Almshouse, but that nowhere in the text had he mentioned these cold, frightening figures dispensing judgment, and gazing with steely, merciless eyes. Instead, Foucault referred in an interview to a brilliant ekphrasis by Paul Claudel, a Christian thinker whom some might be surprised to find Foucault celebrating. As Foucault says in his Las Meninas essay, there is an infinite relation between what we say and what we see, and that essay itself, I argue, needs to be read not only as an ekphrasis but as a commentary on that practice. There is a crack or a rift between seeing and saying as well as a rich interplay of the two that itself varies with different visual regimes. It is this rift itself that can operate as the opening for various practices of writing, marking, depicting, and image-making, including some of those focused on the production of multiplicity.
What's interesting in ekphrasis is the gap, the "infinite relation." It's a "hole" in Technik, one perhaps that is constantly being covered over -- by writers, docents, audio guides in museums, new internet technologies -- and yet which is continually opening up again. It's not just the case that Nietzsche and Foucault favor an art of multiplicity, although on the whole they do. It's also that their practice of ekphrasis exhibits and reflects on the gap, the infinite relation, of what Deleuze will call discursivity and visibility in his commentary on Foucault. Nietzsche marks this edge in his description of Raphael's Transfiguration when he renames the floating Christ as Apollo. In his essay on Magritte Foucault understands the celebrated "this is not a pipe" painting -- its actual title is Les deux mystéres (The two mysteries) -- as a disassembled calligram, so that there is an abyssal relation between his verbal account of the painting and the painting's internal play of word and image. In Foucault's best known ekphrasis, that of Velazquez's Las Meninas, he forces us to think the ekphrastic genre by explaining his own initial protocol of proceeding without the use of proper names. He performs the fiction of the lecturer and docent in insinuating the first person plural, the "we," with whom the reader/auditor/spectator unreflectively identifies, before questioning the possibility of that "we" construction when the painting is summoned up again in "man and his doubles."
Archaeologies of Vision explores the question of ekphrasis as the gap or the edge between seeing and saying. A fuller philosophical inventory of this question, one that I hope to elaborate, would focus on a much wider body of texts than those of Nietzsche and Foucault. It might begin with Homer's celebrated description of the shield of Achilles in the Iliad, an ekphrasis of an impossible work of art purportedly composed by a blind man. As this canonical example suggests, absence and distance are there from what we take to be the beginning of this genre, and variations on the theme are played by such ancient art writers as Philostratus and Pliny. The question of the absence of the work is thematized by Diderot in his Salons (meant to be read by those who could not see the pictures he was describing), and by August Schlegel in Die Gemälde, a dialogue about the paintings in the Dresden Gallery (one of Nietzsche's main sources). Schlegel's characters discuss the paintings from a distance, not in the gallery, but out on the Belvedere overlooking the river, in order to exacerbate the "infinite relation." Derrida's Memoirs of the Blind is a detailed examination of the chiasmatic relations of seeing and saying.
If Ziarek is right -- I extrapolate from his remarks -- then I have produced a guidebook -- a Cicerone, the title of Burckhardt's guide to Italian art that Nietzsche admired so much -- a guidebook to the ruins of a rather pervasive agon between monocular and multiple vision. It is limited to a rather specific slice of thought as it emerges in Nietzsche, Foucault, and some of their antagonists, interlocutors, and sources. Like Burckhardt's guide, and unlike Hegel's, mine aims at being more archaeological and geographical than at exhibiting a dialectical and historical development. In that sense it is not a brief for contemporary art. If it does not pose the question of whether contemporary art of the multiple can free us from the reign of Technik, as Ziarek says, it also does not buy into those metanarratives, whether Hegelian or Heideggerian, in which the possibilities of human authenticity and the fate of thinking pivot on the question of whether contemporary art can be truly poietic, whether the art to come will fulfill a certain promise. Nevertheless, I agree with Ziarek that there are limitations, call them if you will technological, that structure Nietzsche's and Foucault's engagement with the visual. As I suggest very briefly in the Preface to Archaeologies of Vision, for all of Nietzsche's brilliant account of the structured double vision of the tragic theater and of Foucault's sketch of the diagram of the museum, both could do more to thematize the limitations of the grid of gallery or museum.
Thinking about such places for art brings me back to Ziarek's question about contemporary art and of an art to come. Heidegger's discussion of place, site, and spatiality is productive here. What is the place of thinking, he asks, as he questions the bridge in "Building Dwelling Thinking," or the Greek temple in the "Origin" essay. In writing about poetry, he asks what and where is the Ort that grounds the Erörterung? Some places and sites, he thinks (however naive and selective we might find his limitation to the Greek and German canon), resist enframing or Gestell. These have the power of origin-ality.
Ziarek's question, then, is: what is art as affirmative site? I have already tried to blur the distinction between "affirmative" and "productive," suggesting that the sense of the diagram at work in Nietzsche and Foucault, and thematized by Deleuze, is already the conception of a productive matrix. I hesitate to make a global assessment of the arts today in asking (a modified version of Ziarek's question): what are the most promising forms of contemporary art? I can only indicate one area which I find rich in possibilities for thinking. Elsewhere I've begun to articulate some of the categories and distinctions that could constitute a geoaesthetics, in a variation on Deleuzian geophilosophy, which in turn refers us to Nietzsche's question about the Sinn, sense or direction, of the earth and his concept of an architecture in "the grand style." Foucault's archaeology allows us to distinguish significant types among sites. So we can discriminate some of the major forms of landscape art or of the garden (which Kant and his contemporaries thought of as a major art): the renaissance garden of similitudes, allegories, and resemblances; the classical garden like Versailles that exhibits a centralizing principle of power; the English garden of the era of man and his doubles, which while purporting to situate human beings in a natural world denies and yet reveals its own framing activities.
I have named two projects that pose questions about the genealogy and prospects of art and they may at first seem unrelated. On the one hand, an inquiry into the necessary and productive absence of the image in the practice of ekphrasis; on the other, an attempt to understand the diagrammatic character of what is variously called earth, land, or environmental art, including the more traditional classifications of landscape architecture or design, and garden art. These two directions, I suggest, are two distinct ways of coming to terms with what, for lack of a better term at the moment, I will call the real (after Lacan). The first investigates the escape or absence of the real, despite the multiplication of the symbolic or discursive; the second concerns the ways in which art attempts to let the real emerge by diagrammatic constructions of the earth. Not so far from Salt Lake City (where Ziarek and I discussed these questions at a 2005 symposium of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty extends into the Great Salt Lake. It suggests the inevitability of entropy (which can be construed as sheer multiplicity), the primacy of the geological, and the ruins of industrialization and globalization. As I've argued elsewhere, Smithson's work can be seen as a Heideggerian disclosure of world and earth. We can say with Ziarek that this work productively enacts a tensive relation of waste, industry, nature, and the residues of several historical worlds (Native American, nineteenth-century industrialism, and the more recent art of the multiple). Or with Foucault we can attempt to articulate the diagram (his version of the Heideggerian Riss) by which this work institutes itself. In many ways this is an art of Technik, but it does not follow that it is only reactive. It could be called tragic because it reveals entropy, death, and dissolution; but Heidegger and Ziarek certainly follow Nietzsche in seeing tragedy as affirmation.