Once you have disabused yourself of the notion that a body stops (or starts) at the surface of the skin, discovered that an interface is less like a screen but more of a sieve, and dis-assembled an event so that it is no longer contained within the spatio-temporal envelope of its arrival but, instead, bleeds through its peripheries in all directions (futures, pasts, and meanwhiles), then the lessons of this book will have been reached by purposefully and generatively shaking free of the readymade shapes of its three constitutive features.
Over the course of this text’s production (in the midst of international zoom meetings, countless emails, mishaps with spam filters, technical breakthroughs and breakdowns, translational and image-resolution challenges, a worldwide pandemic, and more), the frame-up of ‘affects-interfaces-events’ has been relayed often enough to have become, among us, one single bloc of sensation. Like any oft-repeated phrase or portmanteau-word or slogan/brand/rallying cry, in its repetition as singular designator of a highly particular aggregation of incorporeal and material processes, it is sometimes easy to lose hold of the remarkability that the composition AFFECTS-INTERFACES-EVENTS weaves together as it slips off the tongue and into ordinary speech, into everyday conceptualizing and theorizing, as it nestles in and among mundane practices of human and other-/more-than-human comportment with technologies.
Combined these chapters offer what might be one of the most sustained reckonings yet with Deleuze’s postscript on societies of control (now thirty years on) as told from the human/nonhuman standpoints of the modulating sieve, the coils of the snake, the moment-by-moment re-balancings of the surfer, the vacuoles of non-communication. One can read Deleuze (and Foucault’s) history of socio-political formations as emphasizing slightly different registers of affect/interface/event: following from sovereign societies as the modulations of affect drew direct lines of consequence from the body of the sovereign to the physical bodies of their subjects (‘affectio’, as body-to-body contact/impingement) and, then, the transition to disciplinary societies as intertwined power-desire moved through continuous lines of variation to form the encasements and subsequent internalizations of mechanisms of surveillance (‘affectus’ as passage within/between intensities) to, finally now, the sheer-everywhere-at-once-ness of the environmentality of cybernetic feedback and control (affect as immanence). These three registers of affect—encounter (with), transition (between), plane (of)—are the Spinozist lenses through which a great many of the contributions to this book can be grasped. Their insights give us an incredibly potent array of angles onto the challenges and opportunities of our contemporary moment.
In their array, this collection works to defamiliarize much of what we think and feel that we already understand about interfaces/affects/events: as either a whole bloc or in their singular-plural shapes. The chapters reveal how interfaces—ubiquitous, mutable, mobile—have come to move alongside (in real-time) and quite often ahead of the tempos of the living and the non-living. Insinuating themselves with the proprioceptive as well as the insensible, the interface is never merely a kinaesthetic prosthesis or an elasticizing skin but, more so, a texturizing weave of entrainments, opacities, signaletic materialities, rhythms, and speeds. In their contemporary intersection with interfaces, events turn increasingly anticipatory (albeit always open to re-negotiations with the aleatory), often nudged along by algorithms that detect and then forecast—with aims to dictate and/or disrupt the micro-routines of bodies-machines-environments. Through all of this, affects swerve, stick, and smear as oversaturated ambiances, sensations, and intensities come to sludge together, continuously interlacing (loosely or tightly knotted) points/lines/fields of variation: akin to thickening atmospheric swathes or palpable palimpsests, as slabs or layers of encounters swarm, accrete, fold, slough off, crack, peel back.
This, perhaps then, provides a glimpse into to why this book’s cover image—a vivid patch of Erin Manning’s deep blue indigo quilt-work “Collective Fabulations: Propositions for Social Dreaming” with its unevenly stitched-in garments, its wound-like gash, its haptic crinklings, its embedded-networked sensors for registering bodily shiftings—offers up such a resonant visual analogue to the ways that these chapters fold and unfold their contents. Smooth and striated, pieced and layered, multi-colored and multi-textured, quilts are in and of themselves events, affects, and interfaces: of fabric and labor (often collaborative), of comings-into-patterns of coherence through an assemblage of skill and intuition. Frequently given as gifts, quilts can draw together intimacies of cherished fragments from one’s lived history and cast them forward into another’s future. What can a quilt do? What happens when we pause to consider the ways that an image of feeling-thought can itself be quilted, when there is a generative overlap of compositional features that perpetually settle and unsettle, that raise questions about what counts as fit and what’s “unfit”? In the same ways that a quilt can lift up and fall around, initiating an infinite series of enfoldings and unfoldings, providing affordances for multiple postures, readjustments, and nestlings—what happens when quilted feeling-thought, to put all of this into a single word, imbricates?
Is it any wonder then that Imbricate! Press could not be more delighted to have this volume as the inaugural release for our open-access (and physical) book imprint? This is the kind of book that rearranges the distribution of the insensible alongside the sensible, and, best of all, it offers its readers the conceptual tools for taking their own paths (and quilting together their own patchwork) toward the discovery, disabuse, and dis-assembling of affects, interfaces, and events.