Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Fragile Afterlives Of Music, Words, And Images

Fig. 1. Edouard Manet - Gare Saint-Lazare (1873)

'The young man will smile on the canvas for as long as the canvas lasts. Blood throbs under the skin of the woman's face, the wind shakes a branch, a group of men prepare to leave. In a novel or film, the young man will stop smiling, but he will start to smile again when we turn this page or that moment. Art preserves, and it is the only thing in the world that is preserved. It preserves and is preserved itself (quid juris?), although it actually lasts no longer than its support and materials - stone, canvas, chemical colour, and so on (quid facti?). The young girl maintains the pose that she has had for five thousand years, a gesture that no longer depends on whoever made it. The air still has the turbulence, the gust of wind, and the light that it had that day last year, and it no longer depends on whoever was breathing it that morning. If art preserves it does not do so like industry, by adding a substance to make the thing last. The thing became independent of its "model" from the start, but it is also independent of other possible personae who are themselves artists-things, personae of painting breathing the air of this painting. And it is no less independent of the viewer or hearer, who only experience it after, if they have the strength for it. What about the creator? It is independent of the creator through the self-positing of the created, which is preserved in itself. What is preserved - the thing or the work of art - is a bloc of sensations, that is to say, a compound of percepts and affects.

Percepts are no longer perceptions; they are independent of a state of those who experience them. Affects are no longer feelings or affections; they go beyond the strength of those who undergo them. Sensations, percepts, and affects are beings whose validity lies in themselves and exceeds any lived. They could be said to exits in the absence of man because man, as he is caught in stone, on the canvas, or by words, is himself a compound of percepts and affects. The work of art is a being of sensation and nothing else: it exists in itself.'

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guatarri