AKI Research

Within the AKI Academy of Art and Design, University of the Arts ArtEZ, there are currently three research programmes active, which are listed below. Following the (preliminary) structure of the ArtEZ Graduate School, we can organize these initiatives along the lines of studio centred, lab-based and hub oriented activities. The odd one out is the Annual National Deleuze Conference, and its preceding activities, which is a more formal academic event. The hub oriented research program “The Material Image” is in development to become a master program, as well as the lab-based research program “AKI Bio Matter’s”. A third (studio-centred) program “Reality Studio’s” will be added in a later stage, yet it is currently fully operational as a didactic concept in the bachelor program.

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May 17-18, 2017
The Sixth Annual Lowlands Deleuze Scholarship Conference will take place on 17–18 May 2017 at the AKI Academy of Art and Design in Enschede, part of ArtEZ University of the Arts, the Netherlands. The Conference’s scientific committee includes Rosi Braidotti, Rick Dolphijn and Sjoerd van Tuinen. The conveners of the event are Marc Boumeester (AKI) and Andrej Radman (TU Delft). Previous editions revolved around the following central themes:

2012 University of Utrecht;
2013 Delft University of Technology: Affect;
2014 Erasmus University Rotterdam: Passions;
2015 Radboud University Nijmegen: Aesthetics;
2016 University of Amsterdam: Ecologies.

The 2017 edition titled A Grin without a Cat will be devoted to the concept of pedagogies. It starts from the premise that what we learn is inextricably linked to how we learn it. Dichotomies such as content and form, figure and ground, or inside and outside, serve no purpose. It is the task of educators to integrate de-stratification and immanent approaches into pedagogical practices that should include the design of education itself. Papers concerning these and related issues will be presented at the conference.

Of special interest are papers exploring the intersection of education and semiotics. It is neither the materiality of the sensuous body, nor the incorporeality of signs, which render meaning, but a space of reciprocal determination. Deleuze calls this intensive space, or spatium, the ‘body without organs’. BwO is not the body, but the very process of de-re-territorialisation, i.e. embodiment. Here comes the formula, a prescribed pedagogy if you will: ‘To make the body a power which is not reducible to the organism, to make thought a power which is not reducible to consciousness.’

The conference is preceded by a cluster of Deleuze events, which unites scholars, philosophers, students and artists. The sessions had their kick off on Monday the 26. September 2016. Invited speakers were Prof. Dr. Julieanna Preston, Filip van Dingenen, Dr.ir. Andrej Radman and Dr. Marc Boumeester.

The seminar is followed up by regular meetings of the Deleuze reading group under the lead of Agnieszka A. Wolodzko. In her programme Deleuze’s apprenticeship, she will not only introduce the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze (and Félix Guattari), but elaborate on the multiple connections and uncomfortable lines of what drives thinking and creativity.

See also: Deleuze Website
AKI ISSUU Library: Conference booklet

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Research Master programme



Based on the succession of explorations into the nature (static) and effect (moving) of ‘the image’, the research master ‘The Material Image’ will endeavour into the uncharted territories of’ the image’ as independent affective force.  Whereas the static image has been a rich ground for the determination and ‘deutung’ of the image, the moving image has freed the way for the recognition of the image as an independent force, capable of acting in a different capacity. Philosopher Slavoj Žižek paraphrases a scene from The Matrix when he refers to ‘the third pill’ as being the alternative to this duality.[1] Cinema should be regarded as something completely new, neither reality nor fantasy.[2]

As a second step to make way for a slightly higher level of abstraction, art historian W.J.T. Mitchell makes a plea for the ‘recognition’ of the will of images when he writes: ‘Images are like living organisms; living organisms are best described as things that have desires (for example, appetites, needs, demands, drives); therefore, the question of what pictures want is inevitable.’ [3]

Based on this epistemological chain of understanding the static and the moving image, this master program will be centred on the search into the material image in the condition described by media theorist Mark Deuze’s concept of a life lived not ‘through’ but ‘in’ media. Here, the alterity of all that is physical is subjugated to our individual perception and assumed neutrality; the closest we might come to a ‘moment of objectivity’ is through an accumulation of all mediated notions. Mark Deuze explains: ‘The whole of the world and our lived experience in it can indeed be seen as framed by, mitigated through, and made immediate by pervasive and ubiquitous media.’ [4]

In order to perceive these reflections in a productive framework, we shall focus on affective capacities of media, rather than on their inherent properties. This is an important step in the ‘emancipation’ of the desire of the medium because it shifts the hierarchical relation of the dominant human creator and the obedient medium toward a flat ontology in which both medium and ‘the human’ are able to express their desires on an equal affective footing.

Philosopher Baruch Spinoza considered ‘affecting’ and ‘affected’ as being one force, drawing affect closer to proto-action.[5] Proto-action can be seen as the aptitude for creating a capacity for affective interaction, for aligning an affording constellation that allows for singularity. Architectural theorist Sanford Kwinter describes singularity as ‘those critical points or moments within a system when its qualities and not just its quantities undergo a fundamental change’.[6] Proto-action is the state before this threshold experience; singularity is a threshold experience.

Desire is a mode of existence that strives for its own autonomy and emergence without a foundational point of departure or a teleological destination. Based on this definition, it should be possible to measure the tendencies and drives that interact between the human and the nonhuman. Psychoanalyst Félix Guattari explains the concept of desire as ‘everything that exists before the opposition between subject and object, before representation and production’.[7] The concept of desire depends on its incapacity to be fulfilled. In the synthesis of a work, a surplus is generated that is more than can be anticipated or measured on the basis of the sum of the elements. This is a desire of plenitude. Deleuze and Guattari add: ‘There isn’t a desire for power; it is power itself that is desire. Not a desire-lack, but desire as a plenitude, exercise, and functioning, even in the most subaltern of workers.[8] In our interpretation, a desire of plenitude is produced continuously and therefore has no predetermined dimensions.

Within the programme, participants define their research questions based on, but not determined by their respective discipline. Through collaborative and individual work, a question will be formed revolving around, that would retain much of its force by not answering it completely. This programme is currently under construction and will be launched in 2018-2019. A pilot version will be setup to test the premises and its ‘methodology’ (rather; its heuristics), this pilot will be undertaken in the fall of 2017 in collaboration with Delft University of Technology, Zhejiang International Studies University and the Chinese Academy of Art, Hangzhou. For more information please write to: m.boumeester@artez.nl

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Artistic Research program 2017-2018

With the new biotechnologies such as cloning, tissue engineering, DNA editing and the research on microbiome our old understanding of what is life and living bodies, nature and culture have stopped having any fixed meaning and relevance. Artists known as bioartists and biodesigners have begun to use living matter as a form of visual speculation but also hands-on manipulation, actively participating in shaping an understanding of what life is and what living bodies might be and do. In other words, rather than representing the reality, bioartists invent a reality. AKI BIO MATTERs artistic research program follows bioart’s movement to learn how to think and create when your medium is alive.

Introduction The use of living matter in art is nothing new. Artists have been working with living bodies already since the beginning of the last century. However, art’s experimentation with life and living matter has gained a new significance and unexpected roles. Known as bioartists and biodesigners, they have been entering bioscientific institutions and laboratories in order to collaborate with scientists and learn to use their tools and protocols in the artistic practice.

The unique non-goal/profit oriented attitude toward experimentation, questioning and invention makes artist to gain a new role. Bioartists became a biophilosophers, bioeducators, bioactivists and biostorytellers of the new brave world where biology, technology and philosophy are not separate from each other.

However, with the new medium and possibilities, the old worries came. If art creates life, is it also responsible for it?  If bioart is not a simple representation of scientific findings, but an actual generation of realities, what becomes the role of art? These questions concern thus not only the status of art with regard to science and philosophy but also the methods, tools and implications of art’s present and future practices with living matter. AKI BIO MATTERs will thus exercise within lectures, workshops and hands-on engagements the capacities and agencies of art working with living matters.


We will face with the art and science relations and practices of living matter manipulations in a manner that hands-on practice is never separated from instant processes of thinking. We will experience and discuss what is actually happening in the labs within wider Do IT Yourself biology and bioart scene and what are the challenges of living matter manipulations. The aim of AKI BIO MATTERs will be to create spaces of thinking while doing, and doing while thinking with the living matters.

The course begins with:

Bioart Lab Week – Human Microbial Condition on 02.10.2017 till 06-10-2017

With the introductory lectures into bioart and the workshops by the guest bioartists Raphael Kim – a biohacker and a researcher, interested in DIY biology, micro-organisms, speculative futures and bio-digital interfaces https://biohackanddesign.com/

Course continues for one day a week with lectures, workshops, excursions; on an extra day, the individual guidance, discussion and consultation will be provided.

Possible lecture topics may include – detailed schedule, reading lists and case studies to be announced:

Posthuman lab – human enhancement or disenchantment?; Nonhuman lab – on plants and alien ecologies; Microbiome lab – on bacteria and agency of multiplicity; Food Lab – when art can be eaten; Biopolitics lab – on commodification of life.

Results: Students will produce their own living art and learn how to write a sound artistic research proposal for working with living matter. They will learn new artistic and theoretical methods of dealing with living matter. The interdisciplinary and open form of the course with guests bioartists conducting workshops and lectures, but also excursions to important in the field institutions and galleries will prepare students for the dynamic and plural field of bioart, biodesign and DIY biology. After the course, students know major bio art works, DIY biology tools, and artistic and philosophical influences, problems, issues and discussions when working and creating with living matters. They are familiar with the existing practices in the field of bioart and possess necessary knowledge/tools of how to develop their bioartistic research further.

Lecturer: Agnieszka Anna Wołodźko. More information: a.wolodzko@artez.nl


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[1] The Matrix, directed by Andy Wachowski (1999; Hollywood, CA: Warner Bros.)

[2] As Žižek explains: So what is the third pill? Definitely not some kind of transcendental pill which enables a fake fast food religious experience, but a pill which would enable me to perceive not the reality behind the illusion, but reality in illusion itself. […] Our fundamental delusion today is not believing in what is only a fiction, to take fictions too seriously – on the contrary, it is not taking fictions seriously enough. Slavoj Žižek in The Perverts Guide to Cinema 1,2,3, directed by Sophie Fiennes (2006; Virginia: Amoeba Film).

[3] Thomas Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005), p. 11.

[4] Mark Deuze, Media Works (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2007), pp. 12-13.

[5] Benedictus de Spinoza. A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works, trans. Edwin M. Curley (Princeton and Chichester: Princeton University Press, [1677] 1994, p. 154.

[6] Sanford Kwinter, Architectures of Time: Toward a Theory of the Event in Modernist Culture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), p. 13.

[7] Félix Guattari, ‘A Liberation of Desire’, in Soft Subversions: Texts and Interviews 1977-1985 (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009), p. 142. He continues: ‘It’s everything whereby the world and affects constitute us outside of ourselves, in spite of ourselves. It’s everything that overflows from us. That’s why we define it as flow. […] [W]e speak of machines, of “desiring-machines”, in order to indicate that there is as yet no question here of “structure” – that is, of any subjective position, objective redundancy, or coordinates of reference. Machines arrange and connect flows. They do not recognize distinctions between persons, organs, material flows, and semiotic flows.

[8] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, trans. Dana Polan (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), p. 56. ‘Being an assemblage [agencement], desire is precisely one with the gears and the components of the machine, one with the power of the machine.  And the desire that someone has for power is only his fascination with these gears, his desire to make certain of [sic] these gears go into operation, to be himself one of these gears—or, for want of anything better, to be the material treated by these gears, a material that is a gear in its own way.’