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A Multiplicities Glossary

A Multiplicities Glossary. Collaborating on Landscapes, Technoid Natures, and Symbioses

To collaborate on anything is to confront the fact that words mean different things to different people. Language is not natural or neutral; terms have a history, terms reflect hierarchy and power. This has been an urgent problem for collaborative work in the arts, in activism, in research. The German word Deutungshoheit (“interpretive dominance”) points at this predicament. It proposes a territorial approach to language itself; language is revealed to be a site of hierarchical power relations, a contest in which some perspectives dominate and others are obscured or repressed. But what if we don’t want to compromise the diversity of language? What happens when we acknowledge that every definition is also a reduction? We want deterritorialized terms: we want the various, the multiple, and the diverse to be the marrow of collaboration. So how can we conceptualize collaborative work on the basis of appreciating these differences?

As the editors of a publication series that relies heavily on collaboration, this question has become increasingly important for us. In our research, the definition of words holds a significant authority, which directly or indirectly affects all contributions. The problem renders itself as an asymmetrical proportion of authority through authorship. How do we deal with a situation where an emerging media artist from India, a white German designer, and a Black trans DJane from the USA all work on ‘landscapes’? For us, as editors, this is not just a question of avoiding confusion. It is a question of establishing fair and equitable agency regarding definition and terminology, and of dismantling exclusion. Through the lens of multiplicity, we can better observe this predicament and ourselves in it, and we can conceptualize and formulate a response, or rather a collaborative multitude of responses.

Multiplicity is a refrain in the geophilosophy developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, well-known for their conceptualization of non-hierarchically distributed networks as a rhizome. Conceptually related to the rhizome, multiplicity offers a way out of the idealist assumption that every being reflects a certain ideal form. [2] Deleuze and Guattari position themselves against idealism’s enforced unity and they resist the reduction of beings to mere individuals. To us, multiplicity offers a versatile tool or orientation to navigate collaborative thoughts and work.

href zine is driven by a wide variety of voices, positions, and perspectives. Each issue contains contributions from artists, activists, researchers, writers, models, and many others; the contributions take the form of essays, renderings, drum ’n bass sets, screenshots, playlists, photographs, installations, and more. While we as designers and editors create a common ground in the form of a written introduction, the contributions are not meant to „fit in“. The differences make the zine interesting. As editors, we might initialize the publication as a process, but only a few entries in, the editors’ position has already turned into a bulky body of thoughts, work, images, and words.

Taking the approach of assembling instead of unifying is inherent to a collaborative format. We call it a ‘Multiplicities Glossary.’ Each issue announces three topics: this second issue discusses landscapes, technoid natures, and symbioses. These terms remain dominant and present throughout the whole zine. In order to distribute authority/authorship, we invited each contributor to define these terms from their own perspectives––an approach that resonates with Deleuze/Guattari’s multiplicity concept.
(Quantitative and Qualitative) Multiplicity

Multiplicity is part of Deleuze/Guattari’s broader departure from the traditions of Platonism. Against idealism’s false unities, they pose, in effect, two kinds of difference: “quantitative” and “qualitative” multiplicity. Quantitative multiplicity names differences of degree, juxtaposition, and a certain order. Qualitative multiplicity refers to differences in kind, fusion, and organization. These two multiplicities are themselves always entangled. Each describes a perspective, ‘true’ in its own way, just as reality can be described through both science (quantitative multiplicity) and poetry (qualitative multiplicity). [3]

How does the glossary change when it is built around considerations of multiplicity?

The traditional glossary offers a list of related words in alphabetical order, along with brief explanations. A “Multiplicities Glossary” gathers the knowledges of multiple contributors about each term. Instead of reducing these knowledges to a flattened unity—one definition of ‘landscape’, for example—this alternative glossary boasts a wide-ranging, fuzzy blob of differences. Instead of one static landscape, we find a range of possible landscapes: landscapes “swinging between the natural and cultural”, “the landscape as lack”, technoid landscapes, “landscape as time and place”, a screenshot landscape, “matter of coexistence”, “different geological processes”, “mixtures”. [4]

Sources

[1] Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari: A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. (1987) University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London. pg. 32

[2] Edward Thornton: Two’s a crowd. Published in: Aeon. (2018) Online accessible via: https://aeon.co/essays/a-creative-multiplicity-the-philosophy-of-deleuze-and-guattari [Last accessed on 15.12.2020.]

[3] Nicholas Tampio: Multiplicity. In: Encyclopedia of Political Theory (2010) Online accessible via: https://faculty.fordham.edu/tampio/Tampio%20-%20Multiplicity.pdf [Last accessed on 15.12.2020]

[4] A Multiplicities Glossary. In: href zine – Landscapes, Technoid Natures, Symbioses (2020) Online accessible via: https://href-zine.net/technoid-natures.html [Last accessed on 15.12.2020]

Contributors A Multiplicities Glossary

Anaïs Nishe
Anna Tokareva
Cássia Vila
Charlotte Rohde
Diann Bauer
Digital&Dead (interviewed by Wade Wallerstein)
Fara Peluso
Galen Tiptonİpek Burçak
Iulia Radu
Jordana LeSesne
Julian-Anthony Hespenheide
Leila Kiraz
Léna Lewis-King
Luz Ferrari
Marc-André Weibezahn
Mariana Basso & Luiz Zanotello
Nicolò Cervello
Nitish Arora
Raquel Villa
Shorouk El-Zeftawy
Victor Artiga Rodrìguez


Lotta Stöver is an emerging artist/designer and student of Digital Media at the University of the Arts, Bremen. Her works are informed by new media, technologies, research, and simulations. Driven by a strong interest in the intersections and interdependencies of all phenomena and matters aligning, disobeying, transforming, and mutating along with (new) techno-*-logies, her works take the form of installations, electronics, and publications.

Nathalie Gebert works in the fields of new media, art and feminist theory. Her work revolves around installations and research on the relationships between technologies, non-human life and techno-feminism. Using experimental methods to reinvent ways of inter- and intraspecific communication, she explores the individual properties, history and potential of materials.