The piece began construction on Thursday December 13th 2007 and was worked on each night until Monday, December 17th. The piece was be taken down soon after, and no part of it was permanent. The following documentation contains the ideas preceding its development and then documentation of its growth.
I will create an installation piece that will introduce a network of twine to three trees in Kogan Plaza [note: In execution, the project actually took place in the park across from the Academic Center in GWU, and spanned in time on one tree]. The piece will push for rhizomatic thinking. In the crossroads of an intellectual environment, many will stop and consider the work, looking at the trees in a different way, and how each of the branches can be interconnected. The idea of networks and interconnections is important since it encourages more flexible and open thinking to urge building connections.
Deleuze and Guattarri wrote A Thousand Plateaus as a response to the philosophic thought widespread in Europe in the late 20th century. They wanted to encourage a new way to think, a more open flexible way, a rhizomatic way of thinking, rather than arboreal. I will take that idea literally and present it in the form of an installation piece that will be seen by most students around campus.
There are three trees in a row in the center of Kogan Plaza, on the clock tower side, by the benches. The tree furthest sound is the smallest of the three trees and the two remaining are about the same size. Twine will be tied around a branch, then tied to connect it to another branch, not pulling the branch, but just to show that the two are joined by this line in space. This pattern will repeat throughout the form of the tree, and will resemble a mix between a lattice structure and a spider web. The south tree will have the least amount of lines connecting, and the one furthest north will have the most. The installation will put up at night and remain up for at least a day.
To recap, the project will be an instillation of lattice twine in three trees in Kogan plaza for an audience of students in order to represent the urge and importance of rhizomatic thinking evident in 1000 Plateaus.
I will first describe in detail the concepts behind the artwork, the poietic side, and then I will address how the piece will be successful, focusing more on the esthetic side.
The core ideas in the project and its structure were inspired by a literal interpretation of some of the concepts in A Thousand Plateaus, namely that of the rhizome and the arbor, milieus and consistency. It is evident that there are two major parts to the installation. The twine, and the tree, are both earth tones blending into one another. The twine will represent the tree as a rhizome, where “any point can be connected to another” which “is very different from the tree or root, which plots a point, fixes an order.” The interaction of them expresses the concept of how “milieus pass into one another; they are essentially communicating” ( Deleuze and Guattari 313). Seeing the twine as one milieu, and the tree as another milieu, it is evident they are interacting because the twine creates lines in space between points of the tree. There is a code from the milieu of the twine to that of the tree, and vice versa. The result is that a rhythm is created between the tree and the twine, and “when the rhythm has expressiveness” there is a territory (315). The territory is an action, and the goal of the piece is to express the concept of the push for the rhizomatic thinking. Consistency is the “manner in which components of a territorial assemblage hold together” and the components are held together by a “formalizing, linear, hierarchized, centralized arborescent model” (327). Literally this is represented in the project, as the tree is the basis for the network of lines.
Now I will address the way in which the piece will be received, and how I have tried to affect the perception of the piece by its form and context. In his discussion of narrativity in music, Nattiez claims “one is tempted to speak of musical narrative on the account of the existence of this syntactical and temporal dimension of music,” referring to techniques of continuity in music (Nattiez 224). Having three trees, I ill signify the growth of the rhizome structure over the tree using a technique of continuity. Using the smallest tree as an implied start point, the rhizome structure will be smallest there and then larger and larger. It could be interpreted as a decay of the rhizome structure, but since the smallest tree is tied with the smallest rhizome structure, and the existence of a single direction in time, I am relying on the assumption that viewers will also begin with the smallest, as the start to the piece. This is not a mistaken assumption, which is evident in drawing a parallel with music, that “for the listener, any ‘narrative’ instrumental work is not in itself a narrative, but the structural analysis in music of an absent narrative” (249). It is in the interpretation, the esthesic process, in which the narrative is applied to the work. Using a simple technique of growth, I imply the parallel growth of the rhizome.
How will this piece encourage the rhizomatic thinking? There is no way to specifically guarantee this, but in showing how the limbs of a tree can be connected in the context of Kogan Plaza I hope to reach this goal. The tree is still present, as a “myth hides nothing: its function is to distort, not to make disappear” (Barthes 12), the tree will be shifted in some way, and the question in the minds of the viewers will be why a tree would be distorted in such a way. Keeping mind that “the knowledge contained in a mythical concept is confused, made of yielding, shapeless association” I will use the time and place of the piece to push for thinking along the more thoughtful artistic interpretation. Kogan Plaza itself is a central part of campus; people are constantly moving in and out of it. It is an intellectual environment, on a college campus. Because of this when people see the twine deliberately placed on the trees they are likely to think, this is something new, done by someone younger, perhaps in some sort of rebellion. It is probably a students work, as it is right in campus, across the street from the art building. So it probably signifies something. The net structure itself will allude to the structure of tessellation, of webs, and repeated patterns that imply connections between objects.
I have seen other projects around campus, it is evident they are art projects because they have a deliberate quality, they were meant to be placed how they were. Because I approach them during my day, perhaps lost in thoughts, I find the pieces encourage me to think not only of the piece, but its context, and my interaction with it. Using the context of these works as a context of my own, I hope to encourage the same thinking through my piece. When students or professors walk by the installation in Kogan, or as they stare at it when they sit, I hope to instill in their minds the concept of the rhizome, of the possibilities of connections of a web in space.
Realizing the Project
The Three Trees in Kogan Plaza
Using the twine, knots will be tied with various numbers of strands, from two to five
Each strand will be tied to a branch
The smallest tree furthest south will receive the least of these connections, the one furthest north will receive the most
Strands of twine will be cut and added as needed between more branches or between lines to create a network or web
The piece will remain up for at least a day
Scissors will be used to cut the twine and dispose of it
Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York: Hill and Wang, 1972.
Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.
Nattiez, Jean-Jacques. Can One Speak of Narrativity in Music? Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Vol. 115, No. 2 (1990), pp. 240-257.