Lomo-FI (v.):
To Expose the Haecceities that Pose for Your Lomography Camera [1]

Google+ Alexander Monea
Bowling Green State University


[1] Gilles Deleuze's long and palpable ambivalence about the possibilities of photographic art has created a paucity of scholarship on photography, and film-based photography in particular. In Francis Bacon, Deleuze examines minute details of the practices of a single painter while offhandedly describing photographic practices as a whole. While Deleuze's arguments are apt in terms of the practice of institutionalized photography, they fail to take into account the possibilities of alternative photographies and to envision the technological advances that now allow for more direct, artistic intervention by the photographer in all levels of photographic production. One such alternative photography is Lomography, a relatively new practice that emphasizes the employment of chaos, quirk-filled cameras, experimentation with non-representational images, and, as I will argue, the attempt to capture haecceities. Lomography is thus capable of performing the role that Deleuze jointly assigns to philosophers and artists.

[2] Before moving into an examination of Lomo cameras, Lomographers, and Lomography, this paper will take an extended – but necessary – detour that attempts to isolate the exact nature of Deleuze's qualms with photography. First, I will examine the role that Deleuze assigns to the philosopher-artist. Deleuze's objections will only be understood after an examination of this role, and further, understanding this role is essential to evaluating whether or not alternative photographies are capable of fulfilling it. Second, I will articulate a practice of institutional photography and make the case that it is this element, and not the whole of photography that Deleuze denigrates. In order to cement the connection between Deleuze's critiques and institutional photography, I will overview some of the recent theories of alternative photographies that escape Deleuze's condemnation. Finally, I will examine Lomography, trying to build a case, with selected Lomographs as supporting evidence, that Lomography is able to fulfill the role of philosophy-art.

The Philosopher-Artist

[3] Before we can understand Deleuze's ambivalence towards, and sometimes condemnation of photography, we must examine what the function of art and philosophy are for Deleuze.[2] Ian Buchanan (2000) argues that the primary task of Deleuze's oeuvre is finding a way to move from inadequate to adequate ideas, which might best be considered a use of the empirical to account for the abstract, immanent, or transcendental without falling into dualism, dialectical synthesis, or idealism. Deleuze and Guattari make this same argument in different terms when they advocate a hyper-abstract and 'anexact, yet rigorous' philosophy (1987, p. 367). As Buchanan demonstrates, such a philosophy is comprised of three elements: philosopher, plane of immanence, and concepts (2000, p. 47).

[4] The philosopher is a conceptual persona put on by the person philosophizing through the development of an original style,[3] who employs concepts to allow for an unmediated experience of what Deleuze alternately terms the 'event,' or 'haecceity,' that exists on the plane of immanence. In the everyday, or what Deleuze terms the actual, we only ever experience these things through the mediation of the body, which serves as a framing device and organizes sensation into perception for our contemplation. For Deleuze, this mediated experience of haecceities through perception constitutes an 'inadequate idea,' and the unmediated experience of them through concepts constitutes an 'adequate idea.' But, more than simply being 'adequate ideas,' concepts are our means of moving from inadequate ideas to adequate ideas, and thus represent a process of raising an 'amalgam of perceptions' to a 'higher power' (Buchanan 2000, p. 61). This unmediated experience of the concept makes the 'mediatedness' of our everyday perception more apparent to us, and affords us the potential to mediate differently, to change, or even to set off on a path of becoming. Before we can understand how this process of conceptualization works though, we must first take a look at the notions of haecceities and perception.


[5] In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari develop a notion of what exactly it is that fills the plane of consistency. Their answer: haecceities. Haecceities have their own perfect mode of individuation separate from (but not contrary to) that of the subject, thing, substance, or person. Deleuze and Guattari describe haecceities as consisting "entirely of relations of movement and rest between molecules or particles, capacities to affect and be affected" (1987, p. 261). They go on to note that in the realm of the virtual, everything is haecceity (1987, p. 263). So, for example, a date, a city, a multitude, a person, a painting, a season, a minute, a life, are all haecceities in their virtuality.[4] Each has a specific relation of movement and rest between particles, involves a specific trajectory influenced by its singularities,[5] and each has the capacity to be affected (have its trajectory altered or be pushed into a bifurcation) and to affect (similarly, to alter another haecceity's trajectory or push it into a bifurcation) (Deleuze & Guattari 1987, pp. 261-263).

[6] Haecceity, then, is that part of a multiplicity in the virtual realm that corresponds to a particular actualization (although this correspondence is isomorphic at best, and of course the virtual multiplicity remains heterogeneous to its actualization). Haecceity carries the multiplicity's reserve of virtual potentiality and all its capacities to affect and be affected at once alongside an actualization. It is a way of going, a rhythm, which can be thought of as having frequency (speed/duration) and amplitude (intensity/affect).[6] In the actual world haecceity is a way of unfolding and extending, a process of assemblage, and sometimes stratification and segmentation, or intensive subjectivization, as well as the subsequent introduction of lines of flight from which the whole stitch-work can be untied, destratified. In the virtual world, haecceity can exist as an attractor (i.e. singularity), or a constellation of such attractors, that influences the productive processes of desire. And finally, in the realm of the actual, haecceity is that trace of virtuality persisting in and alongside every actualization, which can be teased out and pursued by the groping hands of the philosopher's haptic eye.

[7] For Deleuze and Guattari, the body, in its longitude and latitude, is "the only practical object of schizoanalysis" (1987, p. 203); or, to put it differently, schizoanalysis[7] must uncover the frequency and amplitude of a haecceity, and only then will it have any idea of a particular actualization's thisness, its way of going or unfurling, its ebb and flow, the (de-)(re-)territorializations it entails, and its capacities to affect, be affected, and transduct affects. Further, it is only through a process of uncovering haecceities that we can move towards the Body without Organs. The line of flight always runs past haecceity towards the absolute deterritorialization that reveals the Body without Organs.[8]

Percepts as Inadequate Ideas

[8] Deleuze draws heavily on Henri Bergson's arguments in his Cinema books to develop a theory of perception. He distills this theory well when he writes:

The thing and the perception of the thing are one and the same thing, one and the same image, but related to one or other of two systems of reference. The thing is the image as it is in itself, as it is related to all the other images to whose action it completely submits and on which it reacts immediately. But the perception of the thing is the same image related to another special image which frames it, and which only retains a partial action from it, and only reacts to it mediately. In perception thus defined, there is never anything else or anything more than there is in the thing: on the contrary, there is 'less'. We perceive the thing, minus that which does not interest us as a function of our needs. (Deleuze 1986, p. 63)

Before looking at one of the key elements of this theory – determining interest as a function of needs, or the motivation for the subtraction – it is important to understand just how this subtraction works. For Deleuze this subtraction of the elements that interest us from the image in its entirety is just the first step. Next, all of the unselected elements of the image are "incurved and reorganized so as to surround the subjective image, or perception proper" (Buchanan 2000, p. 62). This image then is presented to us with limited zones that hold our attention, while remaining surrounded by the rest of the image elements. The result of this is that we consciously perceive only the selections that have been deemed interesting, while the rest are preserved unconsciously and operate on the body through affect (p. 62).

[9] While it is becoming clearer how this could result in an inadequate idea or a mediated perception (only a select few elements of the image are consciously perceived), the picture becomes fully clear when we better understand this 'interest'. According to Deleuze, we are only able to perceive in a reliable way through the specialization of our 'receptive organs'. This specialization though comes at a cost, since this very specialization (intended to provide reliability and homogeneity) also relegates these organs to rigidity. We are no longer able to consciously choose how to determine interest, since the process has become fully automated and standardized. This ensures that we will always only perceive a subtraction from the image, and further, this element of the image will be, if not always the same, then at least always selected by the same process. Finally, this same process leaves our body constantly open to a barrage of affects from the elements of the image that never quite make it into conscious perception (Deleuze 1986, pp. 65-66). This leaves us constantly reacting to the image unconsciously, which by Spinoza's very definition can only beget an inadequate idea.

Haecceities as Adequate Ideas

[10] Brian Massumi tells us that there are two programs for getting at haecceity. The first is that of the philosopher, who traces lines of segmentarity, sniffs out traces of the virtual, and follows lines of flight back to the haecceity on the plane of consistency to discover its conduction of desire, its frequency and amplitude. The course of philosophy is a movement from the actual to the virtual, an investigation of intensity. The second program is that of the artist, who, rather than moving from the actual to the virtual, does the opposite. The artist is meant to uncover a haecceity, to feel it out with the groping hands of her haptic vision, and then engage in a process of (re-)actualization that will contain as large of a trace of the virtual as possible as a "contextual excess or remainder" (Massumi 2002, p. 252). It is through this excess of virtuality that the audience or reader will be led to the haecceity, and the more intense it is, the better chance there is for the audience or reader to be able to follow.

[11] It is precisely this (different and re-)actualization of a haecceity that Deleuze means by the term 'concept,' as well as by 'art'. Buchanan tells us that sense is 'aliquid,' that "it has no physical or mental existence" (2000, p. 78). It is an impassive element that exists only in use or conjunction; "it does nothing, and can only be inferred" (p. 78). It "inheres or subsists" in an expression without ever merging with it, all the while bearing no resemblance to it, and operating on the level of bodies and things, rather than language (p. 78). It can be extracted through the delineation of singularities, and it is this that is the first step to producing a concept. The delineation of a constellation of singularities, or a haecceity, is the goal of the concept. However, the concept's ultimate goal is to raise the process of delineating the haecceity from a passive to an active process (p. 78). Rather than experiencing the haecceity solely through its unconscious affect on the body, the concept means to bring us to a conscious experience of the haecceity, and thus to an adequate idea of it.

[12] Here, the goal of the concept and the goal of the work of art are the same. It becomes apparent that the artist is always a philosopher first, in that she must get back to a haecceity before actualizing it anew, and, similarly, a philosopher is always an artist, in that she must build a new concept linked to the recovered haecceity (Massumi 2002, pp. 248-252). It in this way that Deleuze blurs the distinction between the two practices and leaves us with the 'philosopher-artist'. There is ample evidence of this in the literature, as Deleuze holds up writers (Melville, Kafka), painters (Klee, Bacon), musicians (Messiaen), and film auteurs (Eisenstein) as often as philosophers as examples for this process. However, for expediency we will here treat philosophy as the practice of getting to haecceity and art as the practice of leading others back to it, knowing full well that they are only two sides of the same process (philosophy-art).

[13] Perhaps the most instructive example of the process of philosophy-art that Deleuze gives for our purposes is the program that Deleuze isolates in Francis Bacon's work. Deleuze readily praises Bacon as an exceptional philosopher-artist, perhaps more thoroughly than any other save Kafka. As I will argue below, Bacon's is a very similar program to the one Lomography employs in order to practice philosophy-art.

[14] Bacon first plays the part of the philosopher in his use of what Deleuze calls the 'Diagram' to expel all of the clichés that invest his canvas, or, to put it differently, as Bacon creates his Diagram he is following a line of flight that deterritorializes his canvas. This is what Deleuze means when he says that the canvas is invested with clichés (2003, p. 12): it is already continually coded and overcoded, (de-)(re-)territorialized by artistic institutions, bodies of artistic knowledge, language and affect, by the painter's own psychological and subjective stratification, etc. By ridding his canvas of clichés, Bacon is deterritorializing it. Throughout his construction of the Diagram, he follows a line of flight that eventually leads him to the haecceity of his painting. Bacon refers to this process as drawing the Figure. [9]

[15] In allotting such an important role to the Diagram, which for Bacon represents the task of philosophy in its entirety, it is important that we look at the specific methods of deterritorialization that Bacon employs and how they function. Deleuze describes Bacon's creation of the diagram as the expression of manual traits, as the introduction of a bit of chaos. "It is here that the painter works with a rag, stick, brush, or sponge; it is here that he throws paint with his hands," Deleuze writes (2003, p.82). The creation of the diagram constitutes the injection of the "irrational, involuntary, accidental, free, random," and the "nonrepresentative, nonillustrative, nonnarrative" (Deleuze, 2003, p. 82). The diagram is an a-signifying and synesthetic sensation. It is a violent chaos from which (and only from which) the most perfect order and immense information can arise[10], a chaos that already contains the germ of order or rhythm (Deleuze, 2003, p. 83). This construction of the diagram is thus doubly necessary. It performs the task of the philosopher by dispelling the actual (i.e. clichés) and relocating a haecceity in virtuality, and it sets in motion the development of that germ of rhythm into a full actualization. This actualization will eventually create a refrain (or grouping of refrains into a complex refrain) capturing as much of the haecceity's affect as possible (i.e. a large trace of the virtual).

[16] It is important to note that the diagram does not proceed by total chaos. It requires a controlled chaos and an intimate knowledge with the figurative clichés that fill the canvas at the process's start. When Deleuze and Guattari specifically mention the creation of a diagram in A Thousand Plateaus, they argue that it only comes about through "a meticulous relation with the strata" (1987, p. 161). It is only by becoming intimately familiar with the lines of segmentarity on a strata that a philosopher can tease out a line of flight, de-conjugate flows, uncover the affective intensity beneath the actualization emanating from the Body without Organs. They further note though that this is not a wild destratification. You can botch your line of flight and set a corrupted Body without Organs as your limit if you move too fast or if you are unfamiliar with the strata you are deterritorializing (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, pp. 160-161). They write, "If you free it [the BwO] with too violent an action, if you blow apart the strata without taking precautions, then instead of drawing the plane you will be killed, plunged into a black hole, or even dragged toward catastrophe" (1987, pp. 160-161). This is the danger of 20th-century art, particularly abstract expressionism, which Bacon knows all too well. You must mix chance with control, you must ride chaos to create potential, but you must maintain your grip, keep at a speed, and get off at the right stops. If you give over to wild destratification and chaos you will botch the whole project, plug up all your intensive flows, and produce a dead nothingness that inspires only resentment and bad conscience.

[17] For Deleuze, as for Massumi, the fundamental task of the artist is expressed best by Paul Klee's famous formula: "Not to render the visible, but to render visible" (qtd. in Deleuze, 2003, p. 48). This dictum essentially means that true art must render a haecceity (the invisible) visible. This is largely done through the construction of refrains[11]. These refrains have two key functions: first, they are territorializing forces, i.e., they work to capture a particular affect and fold it into the actual world. The refrain is the actualization of an affect into a concrete and repeatable territoriality and/or singularity, which is also capable of (de-)(re-)territorializing other refrains and territorialities. Second, the refrain is also a presentation of an absolute deterritorialization. It is the site of an irruption of the virtual into the actual, a site of affect (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, pp. 300, 312, 317).

[18] What Bacon actually paints, or captures in a refrain, is the movement from a structure, which for Bacon is a field of color, towards a Figure, along with a subsequent movement from the Figure towards the structure, which all together creates a certain tension in the painting. Finally, a contour is introduced that alters the form of both the Figure and the structure. The Figure is then contracted or dilated as it slips through a black hole, and engages in a series of becomings or 'screaming transformations'. The Figure then returns through the contour and finally fades out to infinity (Deleuze, 2003, pp. 28-29). One interpretation of this articulation might be that the Figure and the structure are in mutual presupposition, are territorialized and stratified. Bacon puts them into a series of becomings, or, a series of deterritorializations and reterritorializations, that eventually allude to a limit at which an absolute deterritorialization and full flight to the Body without Organs is achieved.

[19] Cézanne tells us that the Figure is really a refrain for sensation, or, as Deleuze calls it, "the sensible form related to a sensation" (2003, p.31). And sensation itself is nothing other than a delivery-mechanism for affect. Deleuze notes this when he writes that sensation "acts immediately upon the nervous system, which is of the flesh," (2003, p.31). Theorists like Massumi and William Connolly have similarly (and extensively) written on the ways in which affects are at work directly on our bodies non-, pre-, or infra-consciously (Massumi, 2002; Connolly, 2002). We also know from Deleuze that the color system is directly active on the nervous system, which again hints that colors are similarly cointensive with affects (2003, p. 45). What all of this means is best summed up by Deleuze himself, when he writes that in Bacon "there are nothing but affects" (2003, p. 35). In short, Bacon is rendering a haecceity visible[12] by capturing its affective resister in a series of refrains. These affects move through simple refrains (actual sensations and colors isomorphically linked to virtual affects), which are then gathered into complex refrains (the Figure, the structure, and the contour).

Deleuze and Photography

[20] Damian Sutton, who is perhaps the preeminent Deleuzian theorist of photography, argues that, "It is the notion of the instantaneous image, which appears to seize the empty grain of the passing moment, that has become the mythological entity around which photography's popularly understood relationship with time revolves" (2009, p. 59). Sutton follows Henri Bergson in his explanation that perception and memory are entangled. For Bergson, perception is always imbued with memory, just as memory needs some perception to slip into in order to be preserved (Bergson 1986, p. 67). This is why memories so often attach to specific objects present in perception at their manufacture, since it allows the memories to seize and preserve the very event of their creation. Sutton tells us that:

The photograph offers itself up as an ideal body into which perception and recollection slip, first as an object that records the past and second as an object that mimics visual perception itself. [...] This easy connection of perception to the photograph is symptomatic of the becoming-mad of depths, a seduction of the intellect that enjoys the nostalgia of memories stuffed into a shoebox or a stack of photographs. (94)

The nostalgia we experience in the face of a memory of the (distant or lost) past can alternately be experienced as a reverie, or as a certain sickness or vertigo, which is what Deleuze described as experiencing a 'becoming-mad of depths' (Sutton 2009, p. 26). Sutton presents the history of photography as an institutionalized obsession with the becoming-mad of depths (p. 93).

[21] This institutional photography is obsessed with what Susan Sontag (1978) has labeled 'melancholy objects.' The photograph as melancholy object is a constant presentation and reminder of death and things past, as well as an "invitation to sentimentality" (p. 71). For Sontag, these photographs occur through a "quasi-magical, quasi-accidental" interaction between the subject and the photographer, whose intentions are only a negligible factor, since the automation of the camera usually produces "a result that is interesting and never entirely wrong" p. (53). This understanding of melancholy photographs coming about by chance in the amateur shot, however, is a relatively new development in photographic theory that has been cemented by photoconceptualism's aspiration to the "brutishly amateur" and the "utterly dumb, hapless picture" (Krauss 1999, p. 295). In actuality, Sutton (2009) demonstrates that the melancholia and becoming-mad of depths characteristic to institutional photography find their roots in Eugène Atget, or, more aptly, a string of theories of his work that moves from Walter Benjamin, Berenice Abbot, and Pierre Mac Orlan to Roland Barthes, Christian Metz, André Bazin and Sontag. This line of theory was cemented into practice through the photography of Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, and Lee Friedman (Sutton 2009, pp. 97-98).

[22] Atget's photographs of Paris backstreets and boulevards presented Benjamin with a time and place that had been lost to him. For Benjamin, these photographs were filled with a persistent aura that clung to their objects, signifying an accrual of time and ritual, even and especially after the disappearance of their subjects. This aura allowed one to continually experience the life and witness the death of the photographs' subjects. This is most concrete in his account of the photograph of Karl Dauthendey's suicidal wife, who gazes out, alive, unaware of her suicide, yet already dead, inescapably so. She is fixed in a state of limbo, of living death (Benjamin 1980). Even in his declaration of the death of the aura brought about by mechanical reproduction, Benjamin still clings to this trace of the aura in the photographs of dead loved ones (1936). This very same melancholic understanding of the photograph as a presentation of living death was articulated by Berenice Abbot (1964), largely responsible for the popularization of Atget, who had died and was relatively unknown when she began showing his photographs, and to Pierre Mac Orlan (1989), who wrote the preface to the first monograph on Atget. [13]

[23] From here it is but a small leap to Roland Barthes's (2010) understanding of photography, developed in response to the overwhelming power of a photograph of his recently dead mother. In an examination of a photograph of Lewis Payne, one of the four men hanged for the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln, just before his execution, Barthes articulates the same sense of living death and melancholia that Benjamin had in contemplation of Mrs. Dauthendey (pp. 94-96). Christian Metz furthers this argument by positing that the photograph always constitutes a living death, even when it doesn't depict a dead loved one. For Metz, the snapshot instantly freezes a fragment of its subject in time, and a time that has since past and never will be again. It is thus that a photograph is always the presentation of the living dead, and it is only film that "gives back to the dead a semblance of life" by animating the image in time (Metz 1985, p. 84).

[24] By institutional photography, then, I mean this practice of melancholy photography that aims for the perfect representation and preservation of a perception, or the capture of living death. This photographic practice is most evident now in forensics, documentaries, and family, school, graduation, wedding, etc. photos, but also exists more subtly across the entire field of photography. Mass-market cameras are now fully-automated for point-and-shoot accuracy that guarantees the amateur photographer the best chance of capturing a perfectly representational image, while professional cameras are packed with added features (light/exposure meters, image stabilization, low apertures, SLR screens, etc.) all marketed as being able to take the 'perfect' shot. This ideal image is one of discrete and stationary objects, of objects outside of motion and time, frozen in instantaneity and mapped spatially.

[25] For Deleuze, resemblance can either be the producer or the product. He writes that "resemblance is the producer when the relations between the elements of one thing pass directly into the elements of another thing, which then becomes the image of the first—for example, the photograph, which captures relations of light" (2003, p. 94).[14] Deleuze does note that there are margins of play, loose resemblances that are altered in the operation of the camera or transformed in the development and print-making phases, but ultimately he argues that photography only escapes the confines of resemblance in the productive process in miraculous circumstances. Buchanan reminds us that, "Deleuze's primary assertion relating to representation is that we must find the means of escaping its clutches" (2000, p. 33). This is because any representational practice cannot but duplicate the inadequacy of the perceptions with which it forms a one-to-one correspondence. It is no surprise then that Deleuze would condemn photography.

[26] Sutton notes that Deleuze's understanding of photography rests solely on his persistent belief that the photograph exists as a slice of space and time "preserved as if in amber" (Sutton 2010, p. 310). In short, Deleuze understands the photograph as being perfectly representational and immobile (both in time and space). It is this understanding of the photograph that leads Deleuze to oppose it to lines of flight, deterritorialization, and intensity (Deleuze & Guattari 1986, p. 86), and by extension ... philosophy-art. Were Deleuze's understanding of the photograph necessarily based on its very ontology, then his condemnation would be well deserved[15]. However, photography has been understood much differently by a number of theorists, and articulated as a much less rigidly representational practice (esp. outside of its institutional program). While this obsession with the becoming-mad of depths stretched from the 1930s to the late 1980s, it has been shaken rather recently by the introduction of digital media and the Internet (Sutton 2009, p. 93).

[27] As Friedrich Kittler famously declared, "The general digitization of channels and information erases the differences among individual media" (1999, p. 1). In this post-mediatic state, not only is the difference between the media of photography, painting, music, film, etc. rendered superficial, but so too is the difference between the contents of any of these media. Thus, from Kittler's perspective of digitality there is only a superficial difference between media and between specific texts. This is a line of argument that Lev Manovich (2001) furthers by bringing our attention to the digital image, now made up of individual pixels, each of which can be infinitely manipulated at whim. Manovich goes further though, and explains that the digital image is also produced by sequential scanning or radar (rather than indexically, as was the analog image) that in fact continually and processually realizes the information so quickly that humans see only a static image (p. 100). According to Manovich, this combination leads to a new kind of image that turns its viewers into 'active users': "The new media image is something the user actively goes into, zooming in or clicking on individual parts with the assumption that they contain hyperlinks" (p. 183).

[28] Mark Hansen corrects the trajectory of these theorizations of the digital and the digital image by at once maintaining the flexibility of the image in a post-mediatic environment and drawing our attention to the inevitable framing of the image by the human body (2004, pp. 10-12). In fact, it is precisely the post-mediatic condition of the digital that enhances the prominence of the body's role in processing information (pp. 21-22). Hansen notes, "the body now operates by filtering information directly and, through this process, creating images" (p. 11), and further explains that "human perception takes place in a rich and evolving field to which bodily modalities of tactility, proprioception, memory and duration – what I am calling affectivity – make an irreducible and constitutive contribution" (p. 101).

[29] This flexibility of the digital image that results from the explosion of its frame combined with the relocation of the framing function to the body leads to an image with an incorporated virtuality. This digital image contains within itself "an infinite number of potential alternate framings – a limitless generation of other images from any part of itself" capable of being continually (and differently) actualized by the human body (p. 75). Hansen further notes that this ontological shift in the digital image spills over into all of photography, since every image now can be digitized and manipulated, and yet we experience every image as if it were not (p. 95). Hansen shows that Jeffrey Shaw, Miroslaw Rogala, and Tamás Waliczky's 'postphotography' pieces – usually highly technological installations that demand audience participation – all foreground this infinite variability (i.e. virtuality) of the digital image as well as the body's privileged role as the selective actualizer of these virtual capacities.

[30] It is Sutton, however, who finds divergent paths from institutional photography without recourse to the digital image, photo editing, or other new technology. Most surprisingly, though, he first locates such a practice in Atget, who, as noted above, is seen as the progenitor of institutional photography. Sutton asks himself how we can appreciate the aura of history that Benjamin so admired in Atget's photographs without giving in to the idea of the instantaneity of the photograph. He says, "The answer is to subtract from the image the retinal traces of the mechanism, to appreciate the photograph not as the instant that reduces but as an instant that unfolds to reflect the infinite reaches of time" (2009, p. 91). It is this understanding that transforms the instant into what Sutton, drawing on Nietzsche,[16] calls the 'moment'. For Sutton, Atget's images immediately present the moment, which is the movement from the instant to the entirety of the past and the future. Atget's photographs thus present a flourishing of past and future (p. 89). It is thus that his photographs are instants that escape their very instantaneity, and in so doing are capable of depicting duration.

[31] For Sutton, duration is also capable of surfacing in photographs through narrativity, a technique that he locates in Cindy Sherman's photographs. Sutton argues that Sherman's photographs constitute two images, one actual and the other virtual. While the actual image functions as a narrative, actualized by our very perception and interpretation of it, the virtual image is the constant disruption of this actualization, its flight back into the realm of pure potential (2009, p. 152). This virtual image constitutes a 'seed of environment,' in that it escapes the chronological flow of time, into which it can pass through sensation and be actualized at any time (p. 153). The virtual image coexists with the actual, and can be actualized into a narrative (or interpretation) at any moment, only to flee again. According to Sutton, this means that the photograph is open to intensity, which continually fuels the photographs process of "becoming-reality" (p. 178), but at the same time "always offers a glimpse of immanence" (p. 227).


[32] Lomography is capable of philosophy-art through a very similar program to that which Francis Bacon employed in painting. As we've seen, Bacon's primary goal was to find the Fact of the painting, to move away from cliché and towards the painting via the diagram, and finally to break the Figure out of the figurative (Deleuze, 2003, p. 97). In short, the painter is to move from the actualization (a.k.a. the cliché) towards a haecceity (a.k.a. the Fact) and then the painter is to capture that haecceity in a heterogeneous refrain (a.k.a. the painting) that contains a large enough trace of virtuality that its audience can follow its movement of deterritorialization/destratification.

[33] Bacon achieves his goal by situating a detailed Figure within a structure or ground, usually a field of color. The Figure and the structure move towards one another, with a contour flattening the space into a plane, initiating a screaming becoming. The contour then turns into a curtain, and the Figure fades to infinity. Thus, we are looking for an equivalent to the Figure, the structure, and the contour, as well as their relationship, in Lomography. I will argue that we find all these things in the combination of the Lomo camera and Lomography as a practice. However, before moving into an examination, it is important to note that the photographic device (i.e. the Lomo camera) is a response to a preexisting philosophic-artistic impulse. The institution of photography (built around representation and instantaneity) already prefigured and called for a revolutionary photographic practice. It was the drive of desire breaking through the last floodgates of institutional photography (i.e. toppling the institution that was still preserved in film photography), that found these first Lomographers, who themselves found (and subsequently built) these Lomo cameras capable of rendering haecceity.

Lomo – Lomographer – Lomograph

[34] The Lomo LC-A was first developed in an attempt to capture Soviet Russian life. The camera needed to be cheap and easy to use in a variety of settings. This led to the creation of a new lens with a low aperture, an automatic shutter working in concert with a light meter, and variable focus settings. In itself, this leads to a certain controlled chaos in any image produced by the Lomo camera itself. The low aperture and variable focus of the lens, which at the time was cutting-edge technology, came with a variety of quirks. First, the film reacted with the lens to produce images with unpredictable (and often hyper-) saturation. Second, the variable focus necessitated an approximation of focus[17] that, also because of the low aperture, left some areas in such stark detail that they had a haptic quality, while leaving other areas blurred, yet still intensely colored. Third, all of the images had a vignette effect, which is a circular gradient of exposure that left the center of the image perfectly (or a bit over-) exposed and the corners of the image under-exposed. Finally, all of these little introductions of chaos (hyper-saturation, focus zones, and vignette) are managed by the light meter and automated exposure, which help to ensure that most shots will produce a Lomograph despite the Lomo's quirks.

[35] The practice of Lomography is itself diagrammatic because it's founded upon the '10 Golden Rules':


— (Monheim, 2007)

[36] Lomography, above all else, is a mode of seeing, of sensing, of interacting with the world. You are to enter into such a full assemblage with the camera (Rules 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8) that it becomes a part of your life and body so familiar that you can draw it from your hip like a holstered gun at the moment of kairos, and without thought, manipulate the camera (without controlling the image), and capture a haecceity. You are to get close (Rule 5), which ensures that your Lomographs will have focus zones, as well as hyper-saturation and a vignette. You are to learn by trial and error (Rule 9), carrying your Lomo with you everywhere, wielding it as a part of your own body, until you learn to see Lomographically. But most importantly, you are never to let this program turn into an institution. Lomography is an anti-institutional institution. In true Gödelian fashion, it contains a line of flight from the system in the system (Rule 10). There must always be a program, a practice of Lomography, but never an institution; otherwise Lomography would no longer be riding chaos.

[37] The Lomograph that I have included below (Museum No. 4) makes the basic elements of the diagrammatic functions clearly visible. What is first striking about the image is the intense saturation of the flesh, the pearls, the pink of the shirt, and the greenly lit dome (actually white marble and limestone). This hyper-saturation is brought to life, though, by the focus zones. The sides of the pearl necklace, bits of her hair, and her eyes and brow are in perfect focus, in contrast to her chin, lips, the bottom of the necklace, and her top, which are slightly out of focus, all of which takes place in a blurred field of intense greens. The focus brings the weight of the pearls to life, as they hang suspended, at once having just fallen out as she leaned over and having just been pulled back to her throat as she straightens herself back up. You can feel their weight with your eyes as they hang. Similarly, her hair is so saturated, textured, and detailed that you get a sense of the feel of her soft and slightly greased hair. But most importantly, you'll notice that the combination of the focus zones and the vignette (as well as the domed ceiling) draws the image towards the woman, while she seems to fade back towards the apex of the dome. The vignette creates a certain film or fog in the Lomograph, a fog that is at once a part of the background (notice the gradient of greens), but at the same time entirely a surface effect (the vignette creates the same gradient of exposure regardless of the distance or depth of the things in the image).

Museum No. 4. I took this Lomograph with a Lomo LC-A+ on Lomography 35mm ISO 400 Color-Negative film at the McKinley Monument in Canton, Ohio, United States.

[38] While I won't go so far as to claim this as the Study of Pope Innocent X of Lomography, I will argue a program similar to Bacon's becomes apparent here. The woman constitutes the Figure, while the green of the dome constitutes the structure. The gradient of the green works to pull the Figure backwards into it, while at the same time operates as an aureole around the Figure's head, at once flowing towards her head and emanating from it. Now the dialogical movement between structure and Figure accelerates to the point of vibration, complemented by the vibrancy of the coloration itself, but it is only brought to the level of philosophy-art through vignette. Deleuze argues that it is in the abolishment of depth, in favor of a flat or horizontal plane of surface, that the haecceity is to be found (1990, pp. 9-10). He in fact describes this surface as "a faint incorporeal mist which escapes from bodies, a film without volume which reflects them," and notes that "the more [haecceities] traverse the entire, depthless extension, the more they affect bodies" (p. 10). The vignette, then, by emptying the image of all depth, creates a horizontal surface. This horizontal surface has multiple effects: (1) it deterritorializes and destratifies perception; (2) it initiates a movement towards unmediated perception; (3) it allows for the return to the haecceity; (4) it increases a haecceity's capacity to affect other bodies; and, (5) it lets loose the Figure from its vibration with the structure, and sets it on a path of becoming.

[39] In the photo below (Yellow Corridor) you will see a Lomograph that demonstrates the 10 Golden Rules at work along with the mechanisms of the camera. The slight off-centeredness from the quick hip-shot gives a counterclockwise spin to the movement of the Lomograph. Since the Figure already appears to be moving into the yellow structure, while the structure seems to be emanating from the figure, and at the same time, expelling the figure, this spin combines with the dialogical movement of the Figure and the structure to give the image a vortical propulsion[18]. This creates a dialogical tension between the structure and the Figure, as each moves towards the other, accelerating intro a pure vibration. Vibration moves into such quick oscillations that it reaches an apparent standstill, a pure immobility that precedes the initiation of becoming. As Deleuze and Guattari explain, "The knight sleeps on his mount, and then departs like an arrow" (p. 400). Here, the Figure launches from its stasis, vortically, at the introduction of the vignette, which brings everything to the surface and initiates a bifurcation, setting the Figure off on a path of becoming. And, as Deleuze writes, the Figure then "tends to return to the field of color, to dissipate into the structure with a final smile, through the intermediary of the contour that no longer acts as a deformer, but as a curtain where the figure shades off into infinity" (2003, pp. 28-29). Here Mellor's Lomograph has performed the bifurcation into becoming that mine could not.

Yellow Corridor. This Lomograph was taken by Jamie Mellor (2010) with a Lomo LC-A+, film unknown.

[40] For Deleuze, color in art can have two functions. It can serve to express relations of value, such as the lightness or darkness, saturation and hue of an individual color, and be subject to form and representation. Or, it can remain independent to representation and form, in fact take control of form, through relations of tonality[19], and become like an 'analogical language' (2003, pp. 93, 106-108). As Deleuze notes, it is the modulation of color that has been flattened onto a horizontal surface (here by the vignette) that creates the progression and regression that results in a 'properly haptic function' (2003, p. 107). Here, color is an assemblage of relations of tonality, with an emergent haptic function that allows it to modulate, to create space through its abundance of spatializing energy, and consequently to escape both figuration (i.e. representation) and narration, to instead approach the event in its absolute specificity (p. 108). This color (as assemblage of relations of tonality) becomes the variable on which every other variable depends; it brings forth a color space all its own probed only by haptic sight, and in so doing breaks from a structure to a pure force, immediately rendering that force visible (pp. 112, 121). As Deleuze notes, this force is different from sensation in that they both give something completely different to the body (p. 48), but here they have become isomorphically linked. At the same time that we experience the color space with haptic vision, the corresponding force works on our body, and it is through this force that we experience haecceity.

[41] Mellor's Lomograph accomplishes this quite well, for as soon as we experience the Figure being launched into a path of becoming by the vignette, a wave of complex colors overwhelms us and the Figure begins to move off to infinity beneath the vignette-as-curtain. Yellow Corridor's vignette at once serves to bring every element of the Lomograph to the surface and to create an infinite space for the Figure's fade out. And the colors, having subverted hyper-saturation to the catalysis of the forces of their tonal relations, create a color space far different from the optics of light. It has a deeply haptic quality in which one might get lost. These colors then give way to force, summoning an intense affect that directs us to the Lomograph's event in its absolute specificity: the haecceity.

In the Center of the World. Photo by tuland81, presumably with a Compakt Horizon.

[42] Lomographs like Yellow Corridor continue to pop up, albeit with minor variations. In tuland81's image, In the Center of the World, we also see a Figure moving into a structure. Her movement is so forceful it makes the Lomograph appear to fold inwardly into a 'V'. But this same fold seems to be pushing outwards, creating an inverse fold that would channel the traffic of the structure into the Figure. This dialogical vibration is again finalized by the vignette, but with the significant addition of the attendant figures. In Bacon's work, Deleuze argues that the attendant "indicates a constant, a measure of cadence, in relation to which we can appraise a variation" (2003, p. 59). Here then, the vast number of attendant-Figures that remain still as the variation-Figure begins to oscillate with the structure only serves to highlight that very motion, and thus more firmly deterritorialize and destratify perception, as well as launch the variation-Figure into becoming. The Figure returns to the field of color, in all its haptic texture and affective intensity, to again merge out to infinity in a column at once in the middle of and in another dimension from the attendant-Figures. And, just as Sutton has shown Atget to depict duration, here tuland81 has captured an instant that escapes its very instantaneity. The Figure is at once frozen in the instant, as it vibrates so fast that it appears static, and opened up to the infinite extension of duration, as the vignette launches the Figure into a becoming and a subsequent fade-out to infinity.

[43] In the last pages of Francis Bacon, Deleuze writes of Bacon's paintings:

Certainly there is still an organic representation, but even more profoundly, we witness the revelation of the body beneath the organism, which makes organisms and their elements crack or swell, imposes a spasm on them, and puts them into relation with forces—sometimes an inner force that arouses them, sometimes with external forces that traverse them, sometimes with the eternal force of an unchanging time, sometimes with the variable forces of a flowing time. (2003, p. 129).

If this is so, then we are witnessing the becoming-painter of the photographer and the becoming-photographer of the painter in Lomography, or the spread of a contagion from Bacon's meat to the mechanics of the camera and the institution of photography. It no longer makes sense to treat the whole of photographic practices and institutions in terms of majority photography. In this new mixed and remixed artistic milieu the only program is to render visible the haecceity by whatever means and media necessary.


[1] The story of Lomography is largely centered around a single star, the Lomo LC-A Compact Automat (35mm). The LC-A is described as the patriarch of the Lomo family whose unpretentious exterior houses the "technical caviar" that produces the mysterious Lomograph. This little camera's story begins in March of 1982 when Vice Minister for Defense Industry of the Soviet Republics and amateur photographer General Igor Kornitzky meet with Michail Fanfiloff, then General Director of the Lomo works, to commission a new project. Kornitzky wants a camera made for the Russian people to document their lives and their country creatively. Fanfiloff turns to two well-respected designers, Professor Michael Radionov and Mikael Cholomiansky. Radionov subsequently develops a new type of wide-angle lens that is capable of shooting up close and greatly enhances coloration. Cholomiansky develops a style of variable focus that works in concert with Radionov's new lens to facilitate fully automatic exposure in low light and night conditions (Monheim, 2007). The project is a great success; the camera is able to capture quality images in myriad contexts with minimal effort from the photographer, and the strange saturation of the resulting prints allows them to relay some of the vibrancy and life, to which the film has been exposed.

In May of 1991 two Viennese students, Matthias Fiegl and Wolfgang Stransinger, stray into a second-hand shop in post-communist Prague and discover an old Lomo LC-A. The two buy the camera and quickly become mesmerized by this little apparatus that seems to be able to hold onto, or even expose more fully, the rhythms and buzzings of the city and all its looming affects. The two feed countless rolls of cheap film through their new contraption and fill their apartment with thousands of snapshots, dubbing themselves Lomographers. As friends visit their apartment and are recruited to their cause they begin to formulate a cohesive group. By 1992 they have written a manifesto, including the 10 Golden Rules of Lomography, and hold underground art shows in Vienna that showcase the photos of nearly 50 Lomographers. The demand from their followers for more cameras leads to expeditions to a host of second-hand shops in post-communist cities, but soon soars to a level that requires a new business model. Matthias and Wolfgang try writing to the Lomo factory in St. Petersburg, seeking an exclusive distribution deal, but are ignored until they stage shows in New York City and Moscow, both displaying over 10,000 Lomographs. Lomo factory representatives attend the display in Moscow and begin drafting distribution contracts which lead to meetings with the future Vice Prime Minister, and then General Director of the Lomo works, Ilya Klebanov, with a young Vladimir Putin assigned as arbitrator (Monheim, 2007). The subsequent exclusive distribution deal leads to the formation of the Lomography company and brand, which quickly spreads virulently across the globe. Lomography now has 19 flagship stores in major cities around the world, a host of secondary distributors, and a booming online store. Spreading even more quickly than the analog-based Lomography products are the fully digital iPhone/iPad/iPod touch programs Instagram and Hipstamatic[1], both of which mimic the lomographic style through a variety of digital filters.

[2] While these negative comments are sometimes contained in works jointly authored with Guattari, they are more often expressed in Deleuze's solo-authored texts. This leads me to believe that these opinions are more attributable to Deleuze, and thus I will only be writing 'Deleuze' even when talking about their jointly written texts' critiques of photography.

[3] For more information on this see Buchanan (2000), pp. 49, 52-55. Also, see the discussion of Francis Bacon later in the paper, who uses a method he calls the 'diagram,' as well as the Figure, the structure, the contour, attendant-figures, and certain relations of color.

[4] It is important to note here that Deleuze and Guattari do distinguish between two varieties of haecceities: assemblage haecceities (which, obviously, gives rise to concrete actualizations, and which Deleuze and Guattari describe as "a body considered only as longitude and latitude" (1987, p. 263)) and interassemblage haecceities (which are more purely immaterial affects, or forces, that serve as points of potential becoming within assemblages — Deleuze and Guattari describe these as "the milieu of intersection of the longitudes and latitudes" (1987, p. 263)).

[5] Here singularity stands for what Manuel De Landa (2002) calls attractors, which can be whole, periodic, or chaotic.

[6] Deleuze and Guattari prefer the terms latitude and longitude, respectively (1987, pp. 260-261).

[7] Schizoanalysis is roughly equivalent to what Deleuze and Guattari (1994) would later articulate as Philosophy.

[8] It is important here to remember what Deleuze and Guattari write of the BwO: "You never reach the Body without Organs, you can't reach it, you are forever attaining it, it is a limit" (150). One must keep this in mind during schizoanalysis, but also remember that haecceity serves as a road sign along the line of flight, letting us know that we are moving toward pure virtuality, pure immanence.

[9] Deleuze tells us that "Roughly speaking, the law of the diagram, according to Bacon, is this: one starts with a figurative form, a diagram intervenes and scrambles it, and a form of a completely different nature emerges from the diagram, which is called the Figure" (2003 p. 125).

[10] For more information on how entropy increases the amount of potential information see Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers' Order Out of Chaos.

[11] Lone Bertelson and Andrew Murphie trace the different designations that Guattari assigns affects, refrains, and their aggregates. There are first simple affects and simple refrains, which are things like little turns of phrases or short songs. However, we most frequently experience the next level, which consists of problematic affects and complex refrains. These agglomerated affects are problematic because they constitute the merging of diverse affects into a single affective event, which makes it difficult to pin down the exact force and quality of the affective event. This ambiguity also creates important room for interpretation. Problematic affects are captured in complex refrains, which form an actual event of the merging of several refrains. A typical example is watching television, in which the body is bombarded with moving pictures, visions of objects, subjects, places, and events, music, sound effects, voices, language (perhaps both written and spoken, or even multiple languages), gestures, facial expressions, colors, textures, etc. Add to that everything that surrounds the television, is occurring during the viewing, is in immediate memory (happened just before the viewing), is in triggered memory (old memories of refrains triggered by and added to the new ones), and plans for the future, both short term and long term. And finally there are hypercomplex affects and refrains, which constitute singular worlds, examples being things like mathematical systems or even cultures (Guattari 1996; Bertelson & Murphie, 2010, p. 149).

[12] Deleuze's word for haecceity in Francis Bacon is Rhythm. For Deleuze, the sensations/colors Bacon employs are in contact with a vital virtual force that exceeds them (i.e. escapes full capture or representation) and traverses them (2003, p. 37). This rhythm is a way of going, an event, a style, a frequency and an amplitude, a haecceity.

[13] For a more detailed analysis of Abbott, Orlan, and Benjamin's reception of Atget's work, see Damian Sutton (2009), pp. 86-97.

[14] Were this statement true, it would still have holes. As Paul Virilio points out in The Vision Machine, photographic images do not actually function this way. The intense illumination and kinematic energy of what he terms the 'phatic image' are so intense that they bombard viewers, force them to look and keep looking, and isolate specific areas for their attention. Within the luminous fields of the photograph even context and signification disappear, and what is left is a different type of sight that looks over a field of affect (1994, pp. 13-14).

[15] It is important to note here Sutton's argument that this understanding of the photograph is for Deleuze an (uncharacteristically) unexamined appropriation from the tradition of André Bazin (Sutton 2010, p. 310). In Bazin's (2004) book What is Cinema?, he uses the photograph as an instantaneous image, frozen in space and time, as the building block for his whole theory of film. For Bazin film is then able to achieve all of the things that its feeble predecessor could not by using it (the photograph) as its essential building block. Bazin's understanding of photography as the mere building block for film – a much greater medium – extends from his work to Christian Metz's, and is echoed by Roland Barthes and Peter Wollen (Sutton 2009, p. 50). It is then taken up by Deleuze, who similarly uses the photograph as the fundamental unit of film to develop a theory of two distinctive combinations of these units that create the 'movement-image' and the 'time-image' in Cinema 1 and Cinema 2 respectively (1986; 1989).

[16] Nietzsche describes a gateway with the word 'Moment' inscribed at the top in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which continually sits at the point of convergence between the past and the future, each running off to infinity in either direction (2006, p. 125-127). For one of the most lucid interpretations of this passage, see Connolly's Neuropolitics (2002, pp. 143-144).

[17] For those unfamiliar with the term, variable focus refers to a set of approximate focal depths that the camera can operate at. In the case of the Lomo LC-A+, these ranges are set at .8, 1.5, 3, and ? meters. While at ? the camera will keep everything in the image in focus, it severely limits the amount of light the camera can take in (and thus the amount of time the shutter needs to stay open), and is less often used in Lomography. In the case of the other three settings, everything within the approximate zone of that range from the camera lens will be in focus. Everything further away from or closer to the lens will be out of focus to a degree corresponding to their distance from the focal depth (i.e. gradient of focus in both directions, towards and away from the camera, from the focal depth).

[18] All of this is achieved through a double exposure (another feature built into the Lomo LC-A+), which is where the yellow that is overpowering the original white and green is coming from. The double-exposure feature of the Lomo camera also opens up the potentiality for the type of narrativity that Sutton locates in Cindy Sherman's photography.

[19] This is Colorism's exact program. Deleuze writes: "Colorism (modulation) consists not only of relations of warm and cool, of expansion and contraction, which vary in accordance with the colors considered. It also consists of regimes of colors, the relations between these regimes, and the harmonies between pure tones and broken tones. What is being called haptic vision is precisely this sense of colors" (2003, p. 122).

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