Diagrams, Models and Magic

SoAH Research Platform Webinar

SoAH Research Platform: Diagrams, Models & Magic
A Live Zoom Webinar with Niall Kennedy, Simon O’Sullivan and Alexander James Pollard
2 June 2020 | 10.00 am – 12.00 noon

‘…this embodiment of cosmic memory in creative emotions…is the genesis of intuition in intelligence. If man accedes to the open creative totality, it is therefore by acting, by creating rather than by contemplating.’ Deleuze, Bergsonism, p111

‘…every diagram is intersocial and constantly evolving. It never functions in order to represent a persisting world but produces a new kind of reality, a new model of truth.’ Deleuze Foucault, p35

This event was organised with the practice of making art very much in mind. What is the role of thinking in anticipation of and through the processes of making artworks when what is at stake is the creation of the new? How does conscious understanding, knowledge, rational thought and language operate when what we seek is an event of a different order; one that can never be anticipated or known in advance? How is the artist to behave as an expression of that thought?

Niall Kennedy
Niall’s contribution will confront the question of what, for Deleuze, an artist is. He will argue, contrary to certain trends in criticism, that for Deleuze a visual artist, like other kinds of author, has an enduring and self-reflective personality. He will posit the Deleuzian artist as a kind of ‘limit function’ – one which modulates a complex relationship between, on the one hand, intelligence and intention, and on the other, chaos and randomness. He will consider the Deleuzian concept of the ‘diagram’ in relation to these ideas and will discuss what the employment of the diagram means for an art practice.

Simon O’Sullivan
Simon will introduce some ideas he has been working on – post-Fictioning – in relation to anamorphosis and writing. In particular he will be concerned with the possibility that fiction can enable a switching between different representational ‘levels’ and with the way a certain image function might disrupt more dominant signifying and symbolic orders.

Alexander James Pollard
Alex will present his graphic novel The Precognitive Painting Programme – a work in progress that began life in 2018 as a playful exercise in “mucking around with collage”. After cutting up and rearranging the science-fiction works of Philip K Dick he started to see the potential to turn these collaged re-configurations into a graphic novel that would help to develop our understanding of contemporary painting. Can the cutting-up, re-arranging and overwriting of existing science-fiction narratives help to fiction new possibilities that examine the role of the self, intuition, improvisation and cross-contamination in the fields of fine art painting and graphic novel arts? The presentation will include examples of collaged pages from his graphic novel and details of his process and methodology.


Niall Kennedy is a Visiting Teaching Fellow in the Department of French, Trinity College Dublin. In 2017 he completed his PhD in the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London, with a thesis on ‘Deleuze and the Author’. He specialises in contemporary French philosophy, particularly the philosophy of literature, film and the arts. Forthcoming publications include a book chapter, ‘The Intercessor or Heteronym in Gilles Deleuze and Fernando Pessoa’, in an edited collection to be published by Louvain University Press later this year. This chapter delineates a philosophical relationship between Deleuze and Pessoa with regard to literary and poetic creation. He is currently preparing a monograph, based on his PhD and examining the figure of the author in contemporary French philosophy, with particular reference to Deleuze.

Simon O’Sullivan is a theorist and artist working at the intersection of contemporary art practice, performance and continental philosophy. He has published three monographs, two with Palgrave Macmillan, Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought Beyond Representation (2005) and On the Production of Subjectivity: Five Diagrams of the Finite-Infinite Relation (2012), and, more recently, Fictioning: The Myth-Functions of Contemporary Art and Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press, 2019), co-written with David Burrows. He is also co-editor (with Henriette Gunkel and Ayesha Hameed) of Futures and Fictions (Repeater, 2017) and (with Stephen Zepke) of both Deleuze, Guattari and the Production of the New (Continuum, 2008) and Deleuze and Contemporary Art (Edinburgh University Press, 2009). His collaborative art practice – with David Burrows, Alex Marzeta and Vanessa Page, sometimes with others – comes under the name Plastique Fantastique, a ‘performance fiction’ that involves an investigation into aesthetics, subjectivity, the sacred, popular culture and politics produced through, performance, film and sound work, comics, text, installations and assemblages. Plastique Fantastique have performed and exhibited widely in the UK and abroad and are represented by IMT Gallery in London.

Alexander James Pollard is an artist exploring the potential of fictions in the fields of fine art painting and graphic novel arts (and their cross-contamination). Significant exhibitions include: Paleo Fauvism, Hop Projects, Folkestone (2018), Jungle, Celine Gallery, Glasgow (2017), WoW PAINTINGS, Young Team HQ, London (2016), Black Marks, Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh (2007), Counter Facture at Luhring Augustine, New York in 2007, Selective Memory – the Scottish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2005). He is currently a practice-based PhD candidate at Kingston University working on a project titled: The Precognitive Painting Programme and works as a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Painting and MA Fine Art at The University of Brighton.