For Rhizome (
August 1999
1 monde réel (1 Real World)
Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain
261 boulevard Raspil 75014 Paris

The rhizomatic French theorists Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) and Félix
Guattari (1930-1992) have given us an explanation of the machinic as a
fundamental operating principle of the rhizome's event-structure. For
Deleuze/Guattari, being is machinic and the discrepancy between organisms
and machines must be broken down into a comprehensive concern with
production. In short, for Deleuze and Guattari, there is no difference
between the category of the living and the machine in their epistemology
modeled on the rhizome.

In that cybertheory is particularly concerned with the way in which the
boundaries between human bodies and machines are being transgressed,
Deleuze/Guattari's machinic propositions are increasingly meaningful, and
thus under discussion within certain sectors. For example, the convergence
of the machinic production of desire, the rich potential of
technology-induced dream states, the aesthetic ability of art to re-simulate
machinic perception, and the lapsing efficacy of non-machinic energy is
implicated throughout the exhibit "1 monde réel" (1 Real World) at the
Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (from June 30th to November 14th,
1999) and its extenuation onto the web at
Indeed, there are several rhizomatic/machinic propositions and arguments
within arguments to be discerned in 1 monde réel, along with subtle
questions behind the axiomatic proposals concerning mechanical/bodily

1 monde réel, which was conceived of by Hervé Chandès, suggests that the
link between "the real" (the frenzied relegation of all aspects of life to
"value" and "meaning" that more or less sums up bourgeois society) and the
machinic imagination/desire of subjectivity (even if stemming from the
warehouses of Nintendo, Silicon Graphics, and SONY) of the machinic body
(even if it is less a matter of chimera than an issue of amplification)
resides in the productivity of computer-robotics. This is first exemplified
by a brilliant mobile installation of Rolf Fehlbaum's extensive toy robot
collection which was created by Diller + Scofidio, an architecture and
exhibition design studio from New York.

Circulating on automated rolling lanes (in and out of various views) within
a vast, multiple-forked, video surveillance zone enclosed in transparent
plastic is Fehlbaum's extensive accumulation of toy robots from the 1950s to
the 1980s. This robo-operative anthropomorphic roll-up suggests to me a
narrative tension between posthuman subjectivity and the automated spectacle
as a pre-programmed precision performs inflexible automated opperations on
Fehlbaum's robot collection. This yields a wonderful intellectual aftermath.
By dramatizing connections between retro-futuristic style and
computer-robotics, Diller + Scofidio + Fehlbaum draw on the euphoria of
machinic make-believe (with its timeless passions and sleepless obsessions)
but Diller + Scofidio + Fehlbaum also = a less euphoric (but horridly
fascinating) sublime cogency for techno-selfhood in lieu of the
info/robomation age where surveyed selfdom has become (supposedly)
non-problematic in postindustrial settings.

Indeed, through Diller + Scofidio + Fehlbaum's apparatus, many intelligent
visceral questions are raised concerning the productive interface between
body/mind/machine/culture. For example, should belief in the bodies
"obsolescence" be theorized as automated cultural enervation or as a
refutation of technocratic domination because the intractability of the
flesh is no longer so pivotal an issue when the flesh is no longer the
exclusive grounds for machinic subjectivity? However one may choose to
anticipate that question, clearly Diller + Scofidio + Fehlbaum's incessant
machinic circulation suggests that one challenge of the new computer era,
with its round-the-clock time zone, is dealing with a shift away from soley
sensual definitions of being via a rather monolithic and repetitious vision
of the machinic - a vision/aesthetic of the machinic which seems to hover
over the exhibition as a great truth that cannot be questioned but only
tampered with.

This rather monolithic understanding of the machinic (clearly at odds with
Deleuze/Guattari's vitalisticly open proposition) was encouraged by the
pairing of Diller + Scofidio + Fehlbaum's mechanical robotic go-round with
the other dominant piece in the show - Chris Burden's massive "Medusa's
Head" (1990). "Medusa's Head" is an autocratic industrial planet covered
completely by a web of miniature train tracks which get swallowed up into
tunnels and loop over tiny aqueducts. Again we have the in-and-out playhouse
automated and made sententious.

In attempting to overcome this monolithic understanding of the machinic I
applaud Hervé Chandès exploration of this issue of contemporary machinic
time/space by extending 1 monde réel onto the web at Indeed, this site is exemplary of the way
in which art spaces may best utilize the web in enhancing their grounded,
off-line exhibitions. Here Matthieu Manche plays with the idea of a virtual
fashion show in lieu of mutation, Gai Guà-Qiang presents documentation on
"Projects for Extraterrestrials" and Valéry Grancher presents his project
"Longitude 38°": - a project based in a lunar crater. Singaporean artist
Gwek Bure-Soh also explores machinic issues of vision through the use of
quick cams.

If in cyberspace our ontology drifts vis-a-vis how personal subjectivity was
once recognized, 1 monde réel's central oscillating idea of a machinic
post-industrialization which imploded the real into the imaginary leads us
right up to that mercurial cyber-hypothetical assertion in the air today
that straightforward physical embodiment of subjectivity and machinic
dis/re-embodied of subjectivity through machine assistance/circumvention are
no longer two kinds of mental spaces but only one: the one real world. Might
it be that by entering the repetitions of the Deleuzeian/Guattariian
desiring machine the subject is dissolved in the swirls of repeats which at
the same time further license subjectivity through an extension of motorized
possession and transcendental mechanisms? In the machinic sense of
subjectivity, 1 monde réel carries the intertwined dimensions of the
symbolic and the functional. Therein lies the potential of long-term
subjective change through the machinic, a change which will undoubtedly have
multitudinous implications in an age where every user may become a server to
all other users.