Tero Nauha an Advent of Performance Thinking
Conference Presentation

Tero Nauha an Advent of Performance Thinking

Performance documentation: Tero Nauha – An Advent of Performance – NPT, Turku – 07.10.2017 youtu.be/dBneBbaSwnc

At first you hear a voice of a man introducing himself. Then the voice continues to say, that it is a voice pressed on matter that is called plastic, a vinyl plate. The voice is groovy and delicate like a 12” record. The record is like a mannequin or a doll filled with sawdust, simulacra. Then the voice continues to elaborate on the first recordings pressed on shellac, the material produced from the excrement of the female lac bugs from India. After a while the voice introduces his colleague Lev Theremin, and the presenter plays with the vinyl record Theremin. The recorded voice on the vinyl provokes us, that it thinks, too. He says that the speed of his thinking is the speed of cutting of the vinyl. It is a nonhuman form of thought, which is not very reasonable nor does resemble human thinking. It is kind of advent of thought.

In The Order of Things, Foucault writes on Don Quixote as the ‘hero of the Same’, and how on his journey he is about to realize that encounters with people, places and things do not resemble the chivalric romances he has read about. Don Quixote: “reads the world in order to prove his books,” while the written text is not telling the truth, on the contrary all the contingencies rather “resemble the action of sorcery, which introduces difference into the indubitable existence of similitude by means of deceit” (Foucault 2002, 52–53). The similitudes and resemblances are deceptive visions of madness, where things “are no longer anything but what they are, words wander off on their own, without content, without resemblance to fill their emptiness […] analogies are always proved false […] written words and things no longer resemble one another. And between them, Don Quixote wanders off on his own.” (Ibid.) While wandering, it is clear that this is the book, he has not yet read, or the truth he has not yet recognized, “since he is the book in flesh and blood” (ibid.).

The voice that is being heard is the ‘flesh and blood’ of the vinyl record, where the deceit and make-believe are not only the proofs of the resemblance, but also how the voice wanders off into ‘fictioning’. Seen from another point of view, this voice and the mesmerising sound of the Theremin are planes of consistency, where they are never alone. Like the record says, in order to produce shellac, the material for the first records, required thousands and thousands of lac bugs. What I am after, here, is not only to look at the agencies of these lac bugs, or other live beings, but to look at the material, immaterial and metaphysical alliances we create and re-create in the performance. A performance is not a ‘family novel’ huddled around filiation, but it is a consistency with heretical and deceitful alliances. The alliances create fictioning which has the same formation as fabulation, which can never be created alone, the fabulation is a practice of alliances, and their differential perspectives.

Fictioning is the demonic recurrence of thought in performance, which still expresses itself as indeterminate and polyvocal. It is in superposition with a ‘proper’ thought of philosophy and theory, but ontologically indeterminate. Fictioning has no connection with true or false, but with virtual and the actualization of the virtual. It is not a reasonable act or in a resembling correspondence with the world. Like fabulation, it is “created ‘along with’ the act that runs through them” (Deleuze 1991, 106). Simon O’Sullivan writes in his proposition for fictioning as ‘myth-science’ that:

fictioning inserts itself into the real in this sense—into the world as-it-is (indeed, it collapses the so-called real and the fictional), but, in so doing, it necessarily augments and, indeed, changes our reality (not least as, again, it summons an audience that is appropriate and adequate to it). This is fictioning as mythopoesis: the imaginative transformation of the world through fiction. (O’Sullivan 2015, 86)

The fictioning is the interval between durations, where intensities and rhythms take place. It is a way to emerge from singular duration to recognise the multiplicity of durations — or perspectives surrounding us. The creation as fabulation is the capacity to emerge from the enclosure of a subjectivity. (Deleuze 1991,104) Ilona Hongisto writes in her recent book Soul of Documentary (2016) how the compositional modality of documentary cinema:

occupies the space in between people who tell stories and the documentary camera that observes these fabulous acts. The relationship between the two creates documentary visions that undo the antagonistic dichotomy between the true and the false. (Hongisto 2015, 67)

Fiction is a possible memory which creates possible worlds, but fictioning has no rules of resemblance, truth or potentiality. It is virtually unlimited, polyvocal and indeterminate. A Theremin thinks not in resemblance of human thought, even though the flash of reason forces us to perceive that this may not be possible, since Theremin has no consciousness. Fictioning is an actualization of the virtual and it is dependent on the advent of thought, similar to the ‘dark precursor’ by Deleuze, a precursor of thought, which “no longer announces anything, it is neither absence or presence” (Laruelle 2000, 186). There is always the ‘flash of reason’, which insist that we perceive things existing in certain ways. The precursor of this event is the advent of thought. The flash of reason, is part of the apparatus of the event which affects the superposition of different registers. Similarly, with the two-slit experiment,[18] where: “in any attempt of a pictorial representation of the behaviour of the photon we would, thus, meet with the difficulty: to be obliged to say, on the one hand, that the photon always chooses one, of the two ways and, on the other hand, it behaves as if it had passed both ways” (Bohr 2010, 51). Fictioning is only an advent of thought, but still an essential part of the artistic practice as an indeterminate ‘two-slit experiment’. There is no way to determine what fictioning would be, but only that fictioning leaves different traces than fiction—a different unfolding of events.

Following the perspectivist approach ‘fictioning’ is not a product of imagination, but rather “the entry into thought of (real) experience […] an experimentation with the imagination or an ‘experimentation with thought itself” (Viveiros de Castro 2014, 188). A fictioning is an experiment of ‘another’ thought, but in the “diverging of perspective”, as the anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro writes on the Amazonian indigenous thought as perspectivism (ibid.). Perspectivism is founded on the acentric network where “world is inhabited by different sorts of subjects or persons, human and non-human, which apprehend reality from distinct points of view” (Viveiros de Castro 2015, 195). A perspective is a capacity to occupy a point of view, but in the acentric plane or network. It is a capacity to actualize something from a point of view. Anything that possess a soul, is a subject, and then capable of having a point of view; every point of view is a subject, but an entangled one (ibid. 244). Deleuze (1993, 19) writes in his book on Leibniz that “[s]uch is the basis of perspectivism, which does not mean a dependence in respect to a pregiven or defined subject; to the contrary, a subject will be what comes to the point of view, or rather what remains in the point of view.” The argument here is that thinking is not human, in other words, ‘human’ is not central for thinking, but that thinking depends on perspectives without a central point of view. A thought is an intensity, force or attraction—a multiplicity with a consistency. The argument leads to performance thinking, where the human is not central for ‘thinking’ but performance thinks in intensities, forces, attractions and movements, before the constitution of subjectivity. What is thinking, if everything thinks, as John Ó Maoilearca (2015, passim.) asks us?

Through the perspectivist approach fictioning is regarded as ‘performance thinking’. It differs from performance as thinking which functions through reflection, and creates concepts, manifestations, denotations and significations. We may recognize what performance as thinking would be. It relies on common sense and good sense. Common sense “contributes the form of the same,” and “good sense determines the contribution of the faculties in each case,” as Deleuze (2004, 169) writes. Performance as thinking has certain functions, which define the intensive connections with corresponding thought, extensions, concepts and objects.

The argument of performance as thinking is based on recognition, common and proper. The world is properly human and sufficient. This is what Ó Maoilearca calls philosophising in art, where it presumably has more to say about reality, being or the world by using philosophical gestures of thought. In an interview with Philippe Petit, Laruelle claims that intellectuals use a particular way of thinking that is generally reducible to philosophy, and he calls this the philosophizability of the world. It is the “Principle of Sufficient Philosophy […] that philosophy postulates that it can give meaning, reality and truth […] to everything that appears, and even give meaning, reality and truth to the Real. Philosophy postulates a universal philosophizability” (Laruelle 2015, 43–44). These operations are peculiar, since a gesture of philosophy and philosophizing always takes place “too late […] and too early, but it never truly coincides with the birth of things” (ibid.). The actualization of a thought, is already a past where the past present is prior to the present present.[19]

Deleuze (2004, 166) asks if we know what it means to think, in other words, we presuppose that “thought is the natural exercise of faculty […] that there is natural capacity for thought endowed with a talent for truth or an affinity with the true, under the double aspect of a good will on the part of the thinker and an upright nature on the part of thought.” Common sense is regarded as the universal principle safeguarding that we know what it is to think. This is what Deleuze calls the ‘Image of thought’, where the model of the Image of thought is recognition. Thinking is not a faculty, but a unity of all other faculties and modes, which from this regard: “aligns with the form of the Same in the model of recognition” (ibid., 170). Thought is naturally upright, and this model is the sovereign definition of what it means to think on a universal and rational level. It culminates in the faculty of recognition expressed as “I think”.

This is the philosophical labour, something that artistic research and performance as philosophy do as well. It is the moment of recognition or rediscovery of ‘the State’. Deleuze (2004, 171) argues according to these premises of thought the faculty of recognition culminates into a form where objects and stuff are the correlation of the ‘I think’. Then, can such forms of thought never think about the new, where it “remains forever new”, whereas what is established and recognised “was always established from the outset,” and therefore “[w]hat becomes established with the new is precisely not the new;” the model of the recognition is not the model of the new but “‘philosophical labour’ […] marked by this indelible model of recognition” (ibid., 172). We only retain elements from the object, or the extension, that interest us, which is not the object plus more but the object minus something (Deleuze 1991, 24).

The mode of thinking, in which artistic research is planned as philosophical labour is founded on the general representation of ‘I think’—the source of the elements and the unity of faculties: “I conceive, I judge, I imagine, I remember and I perceive,” which leads to differences becoming “object of representation always in relation to a conceived identity, a judged analogy, an imagined opposition or a perceived similitude” (Deleuze 2004, 174). The philosophical labour of the ‘I think’ grasps through “recognition, distribution, reproduction and resemblance”(ibid.). In other words, ‘this is that’. Denotation as a form of making sense.

Instead of common sense, Deleuze (2004, 175) argues that thinking is evoked by anomalies, strangeness and enmity, that “thought is primarily trespass and violence, the enemy, and nothing presupposea philosophy, everything begins with misosophy,” — μισόσοϕος, hating wisdom. A true critique of the images of thought—recognition, resemblance and representation—leads in into a fundamental encounter. What then is performance thinking, if it is not based on truth or common sense, and if non-philosophy would regard performance thinking as non-philosophical and that performance performs thinking? Like the voice on the vinyl record or the wanderings of Don Quixote, we encounter anomalies, strangers and misosophy from the perspectivist points of view, based more on alliances of larval subjects than identities, truth or meaning. We encounter thinking as inhuman.[20]

But does performance thinking exist at all, or how performance thinks without being philosophy of or about the performance? Performance thinking is to acknowledge how performance thinks in forms and modalities, which do not resemble philosophical image of thought—common sense and good sense. We should approach performance thinking as a ‘non-existent object’—which may be known, without having any essential property of any entity (Meinong 1972, xxix).

The hands are moving gently around the antennae of the Theremin in order to alter the pitch or volume. It is a rather straightforward task to explain what is happening in sufficiently reasonable, but in rather technical terms. We may also regard it as romantic or esoteric knowledge that the performer is here after. Intensity and movement is how Theremin thinks, or how performance thinks with Theremin. Performance thinking as actualization is in the ‘becomings’. The vinyl record has been cut and therefore has the attributes of ‘cutting’ in becoming. The vinyl record is like a flat animal with a point of view in the perspectivist world, where anybody is not a possibility or potentially a body, but bodies are “assemblages of affects or ways of being” (Viveiros de Castro 2015, 257). According to Viveiros de Castro (2015, 263) if a canoe has perspective, then why not computers—or a Theremin and a vinyl record? Performance thinking is not actualized in sufficiently reasonable terms. The gestures of performance thinking have consistency. Performance thinking does not necessarily exist, but it insists.


18) The double-slit or two-slit experiment was originally performed by Thomas Young in 1801, but it has since become one of the key experiments illustrating the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, which do not follow Newtonian physics. It defines how light can display characteristics of waves and particles at the same time, or where electrons seem to have appeared at two separate positions at the same time. While addressing momentum and position in this experiment, Richard Feynman has written that in relation to the uncertainty principle of Werner Heisenberg, he “recognized that if it were possible to measure the momentum and the position simultaneously with a greater accuracy, the quantum mechanics would collapse” (Feynman 2011, np).

19) “Each past moment is past at the same time, as the present is past, that past and present is immediately past, or ‘past in general’” (Deleuze 1991, 58).

20) See more on the inhuman though by Katerina Kolozova (2015) or Nina Power (2017).


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Power, Nina. 2017. “Inhumanism, Reason, Blackness, Feminism.” Glass Bead: Site 1: Logic Gate, the Politics of the Artifactual Mind. www.glass-bead.org

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Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2015. The Relative Native: Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds. Chicago: HAU Books.


Tero Nauha is an artist and a postdoctoral fellow at the Performing Arts Research Centre, Theatre Academy, Uniarts Helsinki. He is a member of the Academy of Finland funded postdoctoral research project How to Do Things with Performance?. He defended his doctoral research on schizoanalysis at the Theatre Academy of Uniarts Helsinki in January 2016. In 2015, he published his first fiction novel Heresy & Provocation. teronauha.com/howtodothingswithperformance.wordpress.com.