Hardcore: Schizoanalysis as Audiovisual Thinking of Cinematic Drug Injection Images

Varpu Rantala
University of Turku, Finland


Might there be audiovisuality in the very way Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari write? This article proposes a reading of Deleuze and Guattari that aims towards an approach of multisensory and processual "cinematic thinking" to study audiovisual materials. The approach is then applied in a discussion about the recurrence of drug injection scenes in contemporary mainstream cinema. The study deploys Deleuze and Guattari's reflections on schizoanalytic writing and drug use, and Deleuze's conceptions of cliché and affection-image, to develop a method based on processing the film materials as a part of the research. The cinematic effect of repetitive drug injection scenes is examined by collecting these scenes from various films and editing them into three new audiovisual montages as one possible realization of cinematic thinking: one montage consisting of image stills; one consisting of scenes edited so that they follow each other linearly; and one consisting of scenes edited in multiple layers. The article proposes that there is certain "addictivity" inherent to cinematic drug images themselves. This blurs the distinctions between normality and alterity of drug use and addiction: cinema effects may be paralleled with drug effects, and the repetitious injection images may be associated with the habitual repetition in addiction.

Introduction: Audiovisual Deleuze and Guattari

[1] In their book What is Philosophy (orig. Qu'est-ce que la philosophie, 1991), Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari provide a drawn image with waves, multiple arrows and a head of an ox. The image is part of their discussion of the Western philosophic tradition: it is a portrait of Immanuel Kant. Deleuze and Guattari associate the image with Jean Tinguely's machinic portraits of philosophers, the visual artworks that "dance" (Deleuze and Guattari 2003, 56). The head of a bull works as an unruly, audiovisual commentary that brings about effects of its own: it engenders impressions of different speeds, bodily masses and persistence of this animal, emphasized by the fact that the head is wired to a repetitive sound "Self=Self". Here, the ox utters a repetitive noise as it moves to the rhythm of the moving wheel into which it is plugged. This is a multisensory assemblage consisting of visuality, sound and movement – like Tinguely's machinic artworks such as the self-destructing mechanic sculpture Homage to New York (1960). Deleuze and Guattari constantly provide moving, multisensory machines in their writing. For example, concepts form a skeletal archipelago, and connect with other concepts as a jigsaw puzzle and throws of a dice. Sound also is there; in Artaud's words, thoughts may scream, and movement defines the plane of immanence – the basic image of their philosophical oeuvre – explicated as "multiple waves, rising and falling" (Deleuze and Guattari 2003, 35, 36). The assemblage combines and produces new effects. In schizoanalysis, an assemblage, of which a book, an artwork, a machine – or a constellation of these elements in an academic essay – may be an example, no meaning, signified or signifier is looked for in order to understand and explain. Instead of meaning, schizoanalysis looks for connections, transmissions of intensities, metamorphoses, and convergences (Deleuze and Guattari, 2007: 4). Instead of strucures, schizoanalysis deals with and produces events, transformations that take place, flux in durations of things that transform and remain the same.

"The Great Pyramid is an event, and its duration for a period of one hour, thirty minutes, five minutes . . . . Events are fluvia. From then on what allows us to ask, 'Is it the same flow, the same thing or the same occasion...? It's the Great Pyramid...' The Great Pyramid signifies two things: a passage of Nature or a flux constantly gaining and losing molecules, but also an eternal object that remains the same over the succession of moments." (Deleuze 1992b: 76; 79)

[2] This study starts from the assumption that the multisensory assemblages Deleuze and Guattari deploy in their writing with movements, rhythms, speeds and slownesses may transmit audiovisuality into the practices of research of audiovisual culture and enable new ways to approach multisensory aspects of audiovisuality. Thus, the study proposes a sensory and processual audiovisual extension to the register of studies of audiovisual aesthetics by foregrounding some of these qualities in Deleuzo-Guattarian schizoanalysis in A Thousand Plateaus and in Deleuze's approaches to cinema. This kind of extension may be particularly relevant to attempts to discuss aesthetics related to ethically ambivalent subjects, such as images of intravenous drug use in this article. The study is an attempt to think cinematically "with" rather than "about" cinematic images of drug injection and how these connect to addicitivity. It proposes to engage with the materiality of cinematic images by deploying a postproduction technique inspired by Bourriaud's (2001) discussion about the artistic practices of sampling and remixing cinematic materials to produce new audiovisual effects by editing, scratching, stretching, muting, and layering the moving images. The method of editing images from various films into different cinematic montages combines media studies and artistic practice, and allows examining media images in their different speeds, durations, relations, repetitions and differences; that is, of researching them by experimenting with their cinematic effects and by deploying "cinematic thinking" (selection, cut and montage) as a part of the research process. While also concerned with the classification and re-classification of the materials by collecting repetitious image types, this may afford agency to audiovisual materiality itself by foregrounding the cinematic qualities of the material. The method highlights the immediate aesthetic effect and affectivity, and produces new cinematic effects. This approach extends the Deleuzo-Guattarian idea of creation of new concepts towards audiovisual procedures: towards discussing audiovisuality by creating new audiovisualities, and thus practicing schizoanalytic departures.

[3] By examining the recurrence of the explicit, "hard core" [1] injection shot in contemporary cinema, this study seeks to answer a question posed by studies on images of drug use (Malins 2004; Boothroyd 2007; Fitzgerald 2010) about what possibilities there are to discuss the aesthetic experiences associated with drug use and addiction without reducing them to the rigid classifications of the socius (which tends to reduce aesthetics of drug use and addiction back to the dichotomies of normality and deviance that repeat the principle of sameness - suggested by Deleuze and Guattari (2003, 56) with the utterances of an ox). When it comes to discussions of images of illegal substance use, the multivocality of an aesthetic experience is often neglected in favor of discussion about the pleasures and negative outcomes of the imaging of intoxicant use. [2] This study looks to articulate a perspective for studying images and aesthetics around issues of health, well-being and lifestyle risks, a perspective that might be in touch with their polyvalence. This quest is concretized by developing an approach of multisensory "cinematic" thinking, forming assemblages of cinema, addictivity and intravenous drug use, and asking how desire may circulate in these assemblages and how these images work. The recurrence of drug injection images in post-1970s mainstream cinema [3] is discussed as an instance of cinematic addictivity. This reversal, or the shifting of the locus of "addiction" from the Other, the stigmatized intravenous drug user, towards the film spectators, seeks to question the core of "sameness" in which drug use is reflected upon as alterity. Also in this way, new possibilities to think about these images may be created. What kind of addictivity may the audiovisuality of repetitive "hard core" drug injection images produce, so that we can open up new ways of thinking about the imagery of drug use and its social meanings?

[4] Although Deleuze and Guattari perhaps do not seek to bring audiovisuality into philosophy but look for the philosophy that is "already there" in works of art (Massumi 2008, 568), the idea of cinematic thinking that filmmakers employ according to Deleuze (2005a) can be brought into research practices on audiovisuality. When the multisensory registers and processes of the becoming of new image-events is extended into research practice, Deleuze's idea of cinema as a mode of philosophical thought is simultaneously retained and reversed. This resonates with both schizoanalytic "growing offshoots" (Deleuze & Guattari 2008, 27) and with Deleuze's own writing on cinema that looks for the uniqueness of cinematic qualities. This very uniqueness of the audiovisual moving image is taken seriously when the research process is concerned with the new effects the materials themselves may create. This is about growing offshoots from the unique materiality of images understood in terms of movement and temporality rather than a fixed object to be interpreted as representations of reality outside of the cinema (Herzog 2001, 83; Deleuze 2005a, Deleuze 2005b). Cinematic materials are not merely the objects of research, but instances of time and movement; they are events flowing beyond the intertwining of language and desire suggested in psychoanalysis. Emphasis on the sensuous and experiential elements in audiovisual research practice is an extension of the schizoanalytics that sometimes contests the orders of language and linguistics as "particular modes of assemblage and types of social power" where grammaticality "is more fundamentally a marker of power than a syntactic marker: you will construct grammatically correct sentences, you will divide each statement into a noun phrase and a verb phrase (first dichotomy...)" (Deleuze and Guattari 2008, 8). Polyvocality and bodily experience have been toned down from language defined by (the modern) linguistic approach (Deleuze & Guattari 2008, 200-201). Emphasis on these non-linguistic aspects, especially with respect to images concerned with nonverbal and sensory affects and with socially stigmatized and thus strongly regulated practices might open up new ways of relating with them, not as representations of a predefined identity, but as affective moments and durational transformations in space-time. Deleuze associates events with images as a mobile site that is drawn between the limit of thinkable and nameable: a site of "immanent limits that are endlessly moving, hiatuses, shreddings of which we are unaware" (Deleuze 1992b, 69-70; Conley 2000, 308). Events confuse with images when they are realized in momentary explosions of actualizing potentialities: "held in the void outside of space, but also away from words, stories, and memories, an image piles up a fabulous potential energy that it causes to detonate in being dissipated. . . images never last for very long" (Deleuze 1992a, 76, cit. Conley 2000, 310).

[5] The constantly changing, singular, rich materiality of moving images may be brought into theoretic discussion by intertwining sensuous intensities of movement and audiovisuality with conceptual procedures. This is grounded in the schizoanalysis that encourages the making of new connections outwards and experimenting: instead of the logics of equivalence, the logics of conjunction. By recognizing the performance of audiovisual materials as a cinematic event, and recognizing their behaviors and effects as a part of the research practice, audiovisuality may be expanded from the register of the "same" of representational models towards the promiscuous multiplicity implied in Deleuze and Guattari (2008, 200-201).

[6] An audiovisual extension of schizoanalysis as a process of germinating multiplicity and becoming from language towards audiovisuality, decentering language "into other dimensions and other registers" and their rhizomatic connections,

a rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences and social struggles. A semiotic chain is like a tuber agglomerating very diverse acts, not only linguistic, but also perceptive, mimetic, gestural, and cognitive: there is no language in itself, nor are there any linguistic universals. . . language is, in Weinreich's words, "an essentially heterogenous reality" . . . It forms a bulb. It evolves by subterranean steams and flows, along river valleys or train tracks; it spreads like a patch of oil. . . a method of the rhizome type. . . can analyze language only by decentering it onto other dimensions and other registers. A language is never closed upon itself, except as a function of impotence. (Deleuze & Guattari 2008, 8)

[7] The itinerary towards extension of textual analysis for cinematic analysis is also present in Deleuze's books on cinema, where he gives priority to the qualities of cinematic expression and their effects, and seeks to create concepts that retain their unique qualities: a focus on images as performing entities rather than submitting images to the logics of representation of an outside reality. As performing entities the cinematic images produce possibilities for new experiences: they repeat with a difference. They make differences as they, as singular events, recall, but also transform and mutate. Thus, in a cinematic assemblage, the film materials form visual and auditive rhizomatic connections and disconnections, repetitions and rhythms.

Hardcore – bare repetition and sedimentary rocks

They are these floating images, these anonymous clichés, which circulate in the external world, but which also penetrate each one of us and constitute his internal world, so that everyone possesses only psychic clichés by which he thinks and feels, is thought and is felt, being himself a cliché among the others in the world which surrounds him. Physical, optical and auditory clichés and psychic clichés mutually feed on each other. (Deleuze 2005a, 213).

[8] There is something unusual about the image of drug injection. Often posited as points of dramatic intensification in the cinematic narratives of drug use and addiction, the injec tion shot also forms a visual spectacle that recurs from film to film celebrating the exposed skin of the inner side of the forward-stretched arm, in close-ups where the needle penetrates the skin in frontal shots, with heavy breathing or scarce words rhythming the silence.

[9] This image type swarms in late modern audiovisual culture. It recurs to the point of a clichéd imaging of intravenous drug use that is centered on extended and atmospheric overindulgence in injection. This may be understood as the effect of the cinematic material; the images perform by assuring, by fixing the sensorium into a certain point, and thus inviting affects of repulsion, immersion, distancing oneself, irritation.... Instead of asking what they represent, schizoanalytic procedure will ask: how do these repetitive "floating images" perform and effec t, and what may they thus produce? How do they actualize as an event, gaining an integrity that, however, "never lasts long," by repeating as clichés of "bare repetition" of the same and by repeating with difference?

[10] This persistent repetitivity is a part of the performance of injection images. Repetition is a part of Deleuze's (and his and Guattari's) commentary on the tradition of Western philosophy that focuses on thinking of identity instead of thinking of difference. I read their commentary on Kant, where the cogito is translated into a head of ox with a repetitive sound, similarity and identity, as a structure of repetition or equivalence (A=A), as what Deleuze describes in Difference and Repetition as "repetition of the same" and "bare repetition". It is different from the repetition as a singularity that he describes as a dice throw, repetition that always begins something completely new. Thus repetition can be seen as aesthetic sense, as it replaces the idea of representation, where ideas of forms loom behind the images and give meaning to them. Deleuzian audiovisual aesthetics is about repetition instead of representation: about the effects of the images themselves as continuous process of creation and production – affects, sensations, relations that the images produce on both material and immaterial levels (instead of a larger meaning-making structure behind them; psychoanalysis, for instance, posited Oedipus behind the expressions). Representation is the logic of the "bare repetition": it provides a recurrence of the same. It is repetitive, not creative, and it does not bring about duration and movement.

[11] As will be discussed later, repetition is also inscribed within addiction, and this has often been seen as empty repetition in modernization whereby connections to tradition are shattered (Giddens 1994). Deleuze's focus on cinematic time and movement encourages the foregrounding of rhythms, relations and transformations – which may also be localized in the movements of audiovisual images – as well as addictivity as a form of repetition. Furthermore, the dynamics of movement and immobility, of flowing and fixity, hardness and fluidity, stratification and destratification, constitute the events of the cinematic assemblages, as these processes also occur when dealing with the materialities of artworks (see Bolt 2004; see also Kontturi 2010) and mobilize the multisensory processes of different speeds and materialities associated with hardness and fluidity. They are transpositions between material, sensory and conceptual, as Deleuze and Guattari attribute stratification to both geological and semiotic processes. While stratification is an abstraction for the registers of signification and asignifying intensities, it also is a geological term with sensual and material dimensions; of particle flows of sandstone, and hardness and relative immobility of sedimentary rocks (Deleuze & Guattari 2008, 46).

[12] The "hardness" of the hard core is understood as a stiffly stratified and relatively immobile image type that is not flexible and flowing, a standardized cinematic aesthetic of intravenous drug use. The etymology of stereotype derives from the Greek stereos, meaning "firm, solid," and typos, "impression," and its French translation is cliché. Thus, there is something immobile, hard and solid in the stereotype. This immobility is crucial to Deleuze and Guattari's definition of schizoanalysis, because it distinguishes shizoanalysis from "immobile" techniques like photography and other graphic arts. These instances of immobility and thinking are organized in root forms instead of "variation, expansion, conquest, offshoot," a rhizomatic map that is "always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable and has multiple entryways and exits and its own lines of flight" (Deleuze and Guattari 2008, 23). Deleuze and Guattari (2008, 15) state that psychoanalysis projects one's rhizomatic cartography back to a family photo: it reduces the experiential multiplicity to Oedipus. Thus, this might be called "snapshot thinking," which, unlike "cinematic thinking," is not in movement. It is revealing that in modern French, cliché indicates both a stereotype and a snapshot. Both result in a freezing of reality into a reified image (Adil 2010, 212). "Snapshot" emphasizes immobility: it fixes the flow of life into one instant. The moving image, in comparison to a still image, introduces movement (like schizoanalysis, which puts the psychoanalytic conceptions of the "family photo" into movement).

[13] At the same time, there is something that moves in these images: the injection shot is effective and assuring, and the slowing down and immobility of the drugged body is intense. Deleuze and Guattari attribute this hardening to cooling down. They cite Burroughs: "Junkies always beef about The Cold as they call it, turning up their black coat collars and clutching their withered necks... pure junk con. A junky does not want to be warm, he wants to be cool-cooler-COLD. But he wants The Cold like he wants his Junk - NOT OUTSIDE where it does him no good but INSIDE so he can sit around with a spine like a frozen hydraulic jack... his metabolism approaching Absolute Zero" (Burroughs 1966, 131, cit. Deleuze and Guattari 2008, 170). Elsewhere, Deleuze associates hardness with the sense of present. He understands one addiction, alcoholism, as not being "search for pleasure, but search for an effect which consists mainly in an extraordinary hardening of the present" (Deleuze 2004, 179). This kind of searching for effect may also be applied to cinematic images of drug injection as producing not only effects of "hardening" but also of rhizomatic transformations and becomings.

[14] "Hardness" or toughness always has the immanent propensity for cracking, like rock and porcelain. Crack implies danger as it affects the body, liver and brain, the body's organs as a crack of "Grand Canyon or of a rock in Sierra Madre" and "cosmic images of ravine, mountain, and volcano replace the intimate and familiar porcelain" (Deleuze 2004, 177). However, the alcohol-effect, the crack, is desirable because "only by means of the crack and its edges [does] thought occur" (Deleuze 2004, 182). This crack, I suggest, may be approached through engaging with cinematic images, their materiality and their narcotic, even dangerous, capacities as well. Through a process of engaging with images of risk behaviors, one may "be a little of an alcoholic, a little crazy, a little suicidal, a little of a guerilla" (Deleuze 2004, 158-9), and this kind of addictive assemblage may proceed towards Deleuze's question inspired by Burroughs: "Imagine that everything that can be attained by chemical means is accessible by other paths" (Deleuze 2004, 183). This crack opens up a space for the emergence or explosion of new relations, an event as movement of immanent images away from stories, what is said and remembered.

[15] The coolness in Burroughs's description of a junkie is paradoxically both ice-cold and mobilizing, or attractive, as understood in relation to the attraction image. These images may also be fetishized. Intravenous drug users may develop a fetish for injection, the "needle fixation," an addiction to the injection itself that is often experienced as both repulsive and seductive (Pates et al 2001). But, it seems that "needle fixation" is not only about intravenous drug users: this kind of ambiguous fascination with the injection image as part of late modern mainstream everyday audiovisual culture may even be described a "cinematic obsession": as the "hold [of drugs] on the modern imagination [is] seemingly as strong as the hold it has over those addicted to it" (Boothroyd 2007, 9), "it is the ambiguity and duality of the symbolism [of the syringe] that is the source for conflict, and intense pleasurable obsession" (Fitzgerald 2010, 205). The recurrence of these images in their over-indulgence of sensuous material of extreme explicitness reminds one of the processes of addiction as unwilled repetition of excessive sensual experience: a cinematic addiction.

[16] Repetitive, fixed and fetishized, late modern drug injection images are clichés that may "penetrate each one of us" (Deleuze 2005a, 212). This may also be about an intense encounter that moves us. In case of the injection shot, they form a place of intensity in a film; an attraction image (Gunning 1990) that reaches towards the viewer and that Williams (1991) has further discussed with respect to porn, horror and melodrama. Although stagnant, these images move us, causing material and immaterial affects to the point of nausea, rejection by looking away, and excitement. "Hardness" also implies "toughness" and transgression of a forbidden social boundary in the visuality of drug injection: viewing/showing of an act that defies the modern ethos of the care for the self and of regulation of pleasures. The one who injects is Other who has transgressed a boundary (about the social and psychological meanings of drug injection, see Manderson 1995; Pates et al 2001). Psychoanalysis might subsume the "cinema effect" of drug injection images to symbolize the representation of unconscious processes and voyeurism towards the intimacy of rejected otherness (Metz 1983), and the processes of repetition to the unheimlich death drive beyond the pleasure principle (Freud 2005). But Otherness (or the divide between self and other) is a construct in itself, tied to fictions of identification, recognition and fantasy. The dynamics between self and other may be interpreted as a process of being in between, in the process of becoming, of becoming-other (Deleuze and Guattari 2008) that Deleuze attributes to interaction with the cinematic images of otherness (Deleuze 2005b). Instead of the return of the same, following Rimbaud, "I is an other" (Deleuze 1998, 29).

[17] The "Otherness" of extreme addictive behaviour turns towards the self, and shows how the self is formed around a center of difference by the everyday normality of mainstream consumption of hard drug images and narratives. The relations between "addict others" and normality (of everyday media use) are in constant movement. Plugging into media culture is ontologically continuous with repetitious plugging into the drug assemblage, with similar effects of sedation or euphoria. The image-addict is a junkie; the drug user and the cinema audience both look for effects. Facing the stratified understanding of addiction as abnormality implied in the dominant discourses (Ferentzy 2002; Levine 1978) and defining deviant behaviour in socially understandable ways (Davies 2006), it is important to put the potential alterity implied by addiction in movement and see the everyday normality of media culture as part of a process of "addiction." The attempt to get hold of a complex phenomenon in order to reduce it to a treatable condition is a procedure whereby "a complex rhizomatic flow of multiplicities [is] reduced to a single grid of social strata" (Malins 2004), which has to do with both the control institutions and media, and films about addiction may be a part of the same process. By proceeding from the question of meaning (Metz 1983) towards effect, rhythm and movement, we may reach new ways of understanding the power of audiovisuality and the importance of aesthetic, sensuous experience and health questions. The itinerary of this research has been towards a conjunction and enabling of the aesthetic impact of the audiovisual moving image by producing new possible constellations of images of drug use; thus. there is something addictive in the moving image itself.

Cinematic injection images as an addictive assemblage

[18] Injection, cinema and addiction do not presuppose each other, but as an assemblage they may function together. [4] I propose that injection images form "addictive assemblages" in contemporary audiovisual culture. Addiction is an ambiguous concept that has both stratifying and destratifying effects. First, addiction implies movement between categories of subject and object. The Latin word addicere means both "to assign" (that is, to take a subject position in regard to something) and "to be handed over" (to be an object of handing over). Thus, it refers at once to subject and object positions and may thus be understood as an instance of opening up towards movement and destratification, being a simultaneity that "pertains to the essence of becoming to move and pull in both directions at once" (Deleuze 2004, 3). Second, Malins (2004) has concluded that the Deleuzian view on addiction emphasizes stratification in addiction because of its connection with rigidity of habit. The problem with the drug assemblage is its potential for a passive habit and the gradual sedimentation and rigidifying of organs and bodies and movements which it engenders: "The causal line, or the line of flight, of drugs is constantly being segmentarized under the most rigid of forms, that of dependency, the hit and the dose, the dealer." (Deleuze & Guattari 2008, 284). Finally, as the rigid habit-formation connects with "bare repetition," unproductive repetition of the same may be found in the philosophy of identity: Self = Self.

[19] To speak about addiction or to construct a cinematic presentation of addictive processes is always a way of organizing sensory data among models with a certain rigidity (of the socius). But because of the inherent ambiguity of the concept of addiction, it may work in multiple ways, as a dura tional process that recalls, gathers and integrates as well as becomes. Everyday pleasures, like hobbies, may be called addictive, referring to something that gives pleasure, keeps desire flowing, and is interesting. In the mid-seventeenth century, the term described "a devotion to a pursuit or a habit," "a penchant or leaning," or fondness. "People were 'addicted' to writing letters, or botany, or the newspaper. . . In the latter part of the century, it came to include drugs such as morphine, heroin, chloral, and cocaine as some of many penchants and pursuits" (Zieger 2010). Or, conversely, the dangerous repetitive behaviour may be attributed to the everyday as well, as Freud did in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. This ambiguity enables movement, where "addiction" may be understood through logics of event as a series of elements where "one element is stretched over the following ones. . . The event is a vibration with an infinity of harmonics or submultiples, such as an audible wave, a luminous wave" (Deleuze 1992, 75). Extreme imaginative projections (injection images) embody the openness of an event. Such temporality is also unbearable, as the destructive crack of the alcoholic is a caveat where the present falls; thus ambiguity of addiction moves perpetually between the openness of the event and escape from its unbearable temporality.

[20] As constellations of relation, the addiction assemblage is about flows of energy between individuals, bodies and social entities (Boothroyd 2007, 208) that circuit between elements of addictive practices – substances, stainless steel, plastic or glass barrels, arms, sounds of sighing, music, eyes, digital video material driven through an editing software, digital noise, screens – that are in constantly varying relations. The "artificial" pleasures, often ascribed to both drugs and media technologies such as film as "synthetic vision" (Cubitt 2005, 23), have both dangerous and productive dimensions, as does "addictivity" that enables both stratification and destratification. Addiction as habit-forming operation is dangerous as it stagnates into rigid formations that hinder movement and connections (Malins 2004). This may also be applied to the repetitive images of cinema: "the technologies that enhance life, allowing it to be more creative, can become so habitual that they master life, becoming rigid, stagnant and inhuman. Cinema can exacerbate the tendency to cliché, stereotype and plot, where the future is reduced to already experienced forms, and time can pass only as the repetition of the same – a series of sequels where the brain becomes lulled into an easy and inactive consumption." (Colebrook 2006, 12).

[21] Clichés are repetitive sensory-motor connections that may be disturbed by setting them into motion by parody or by making new connections (Deleuze 2005b, 21). Montage, as a cinematic technique of assembling and connecting, has its affinities with intoxication: cutting is a "delirious practice" that brings together images from completely different worlds, associating incommensurable things like in a delirium (Buchanan 2006). Researchers too may collect, cut and connect cinematic images of injection to research audiovisually. This involves a momentum of montage, where narrativity and sensory-motor continuums are replaced with instants of immediate audiovisual aesthetics of shock and attraction. The method approaches the scratch video technique (analyzed, for example, in Huhtamo 1995) and it has the qualities of both mobilization and fixing. In the mode that Bourriaud (2001) calls postproduction in the context of visual arts practice, editing is about selecting and cutting film scenes from already existing film material and juxtaposing them anew. This means dissecting the images from their surroundings and making new connections.

[22] There are three montages here: one with still-images (partly presented in the previous section), one where the scenes are edited after each other and one where the scenes are layered upon each other so that they occur simultaneously. The scenes are cut from drug films (see the list at the end of the article) and assembled into a montage at random. The long scenes are shortened. The process results in the possibility of perceiving the images in relation to each other in both repetition of the same and of difference: it is an audiovisual study in difference and repetition. "Analysis" – the processes of classification and dissection – is extended towards enabling movements (Deleuze & Guattari 2003, 158) that may mobilize different kinds of desire and new movements as rhizomatic becomings.

[23] The processes of cutting, stopping, assembling and layering of these images may be understood as processes of stratification and destratification. The researcher makes material strata by layering audiovisual materials next to and above each other, and in the process is able to look at how it works, morphs, connects or disconnects, and what effects it may have – in a way reminiscent of the way an artistic process may be guided by the materiality of the artwork and how it functions (Bolt 2004; Kontturi 2010). In both research (compiling of assemblages) and interpreting the images and their effects, a question is posed – "How do these images work?" The joining of the parts from one assemblage to another is about studying their combinations, similarities and differences, and the flows and transmissions between those combinations. Images do not represent but become in a research process that studies how and what they produce. Overall, schizoanalysis makes it possible to conceptualize how research processes do not represent, but repeat with a difference.

The video dissections: fixed stills, linear video montage and multilayered haunting

[24] Most of the images here show the arm penetrated with the needle. There are close-ups and extreme close-ups: only one scene is filmed as a medium shot. One of the shots show injecting a breast and two of them show injecting the bottom. Some images are shot so close that it is not clear which part of the body is injected; the body is reduced to the skin filling the screen. The pose of the outstretched arm, exposing the inner side of the arm, repeats; sometimes the intake of breath signals that the vein is found. The different nuances, hints of the surrounding film world, the setting, rhythms, gesturing, sounds, lighting and colors contextualize each scene in their specific context. In the series, each image shows their singular voice and attitude.

[25] The images form floating and pulsating surfaces of exposed white skins penetrated by a needle, with different movements – smooth movements, sudden movements – of the pushing of the needle through skin. Speeds and intensities are changing. This is a form of what Williams calls "body spectacle" (Williams 1989, ix), deriving from the pleasure of looking at human bodies and the onscreen movements that move the bodies of the viewers, sometimes through involuntary physical response. These images "rebel against the outline"; this is what Deleuze calls faceity (visagéité) that materializes movement, desire and restlessness (Deleuze 2005a, 90). It contrasts with another pole of the affect, zero movement and eternity.

[26] Different ways of processing these scenes produce different effects. These kinds of effects are often part of research practices of working with images and being affected by the images. Common to all these techniques is that the images are cut from their organic connections as in a surgical dissection, exposed naked under the eye of the inspector, even ridiculed because of their stereotypical, stubborn repetitiousness. In the series, the images have become otherwise: they have become specimens. On the other hand, their intensity is heightened. As par t of the new assemblage, they perform and form new connections. They make a difference, as individual scenes resonate with each other and manifest that power of these images that is not about being a cliché, not just a matter of habit, but which is unusual. In the process of editing, the images start to live, in a way. They act in unpredictable ways, not always wanting to conform, sometimes connecting to the surrounding images smoothly. They seduce with beauty and horror, offering themselves to the gaze. They are extremely explicit and thus approach the aesthetics of porn. However, the swarming of the "thousand little needles" (see Conley 2000, 319) in the assemblage shows something strange in this pattern, that is open, unconnected and hidden, evading the directness of porn. Instead of the heat that porn brings about, the almost silent close-ups of the needles are freezing with coldness, like the junkie in Burroughs's text. Their pleasures are exchangeable with that of sexual pleasure into something else, into the unknown and unspeakable, of becoming-other. The montages accentuate the audiovisual, sensual qualities of the scenes to the point of "ecstasy of the affect" (Deleuze 2005a, 99). The images disturb and push the viewer away by evoking nausea, and thus provoke and engender movements, as affection-images that break their lines and rush restlessly. Escaping the outline, they tend towards a limit and evoke "dark passions" (Deleuze 2005a, 91).

[27] By using still images, it is possible to snap a frame and to stop the movements and connections to the previous and next frame. This is freezing, and it makes the image immobile and thus fixes the eyes upon the image. Through the process of assembling still images, the repetitiveness and obvious similarities in the images is highlighted: as a result of collecting images (by stopping them at the place of injection, when needle penetrates skin), a series of very similar scenes is formed, with the arm stretched over the screen and the needle in the middle of the image, with shadowy background. There is neither sound nor movement; silence and immobility heighten the intensity of the certain frame that is chosen as the exhibit. Despite this freezing of the snapshot-cliché, the fixity of the images also opens up the unknown surrounding spaces, as the following images are channelled. The stopping of the motion and sound of cinematic images enforces the "muteness" of the cliché.

[28] Next to each other in a linear montage, cut shorter in their duration and edited together, the injection shots work very differently from how they work as a part of the cinematic narrative: their immediate aesthetic effect increases, and makes possible new understandings about this quality. The linear montage is a tissue of non-continuous fragments that might be called a series of attraction images par excellence, as Gunning (1990) defines it. In addition to fragmentarity, Gunning connects cinematic attractions with the shock technologies of the amusement park, such as the ride on the roller coaster. The injection image evokes affects of the shock of the close-up, with the anxious anticipation of the needle about to damage the skin, and finally the climax of what was anticipated – all presented in a frontal shot where the arm is stretched towards the camera, and the view of the injection is served to the viewer as on a dinner plate: as the view of the outstretched arm opens up, revealing the skin of the inner side of the arm injected with a needle, the image reaches out from the screen space towards the viewer.

[29] The scenes repeat the same theme, but retain their own characteristics and act accordingly. Some are loud and uptempo, some silent downtempo. Some images evoke a poetic sensuality through the use of lighting and sound. Some are long, some are slow, some are fast and loud, some even funny. These images and sounds posit themselves actively towards the viewer, one after another, promoting their views of the world. They may be understood as performers that form new relations and connections to each other. The series enters new powers and intensities as new image-events, where the repetitive images recall each other, as they also open up towards another integrity even as they perform in their singularity and variance. For example, the role of the sound and dialogue associated with the moment at which the needle enters the skin may create certain effects. For instance, many of the scenes are silent. Some feature the sound of heavy breathing. Others enter off-screen dialogue. A scene from The Panic in Needle Park (Jerry Schatzberg 1971) evokes a sense of ambiguous, haunting beauty. The close-up of the injection is combined with a female voice asking "If I went away somewhere, would you come with me?" which evokes a sense of dislocation and distance in the present by referring to a going away.

[30] Simultaneous with the "ecstasy of affect" is a sense of uncanny beauty in the speechless repetition that becomes most evident in the third, multilayered series, where the outlines of the images and voices are mixed with each other. This effaces their identity, transforming the injection shots into something else, the features of images fading gradually into unrecognizable, haunting layers as more images are added. The movements of the figures in one layer surface at one point randomly, and the movements of another layer at other point. The layering produces thus a new image-event, constituted of different relations. The resulting blurring effect is reminiscent of the effect of looking at an image from too close a distance.

[31] The faceity of a close-up is paradoxically also its effacement as a loss of identity. The close-up is abstracted from all spatio-temporal co-ordinates and brings about a change of dimension; a dimension of another order (Deleuze 2005a, 98), and because of this, the affection-images lose communicative function. Without the context, there is muteness (Deleuze 2005a, 101). The context disappears completely in the process of superimposing close-ups. This effect of the loss of identity applies to all of the montages: the fixed frames as well as the linear montage. The images as closely examined specimens lose their surroundings and context. It is a nudity of the face that loses all its surrounding co-ordinates. The plain faceity is inhuman, as "the close-up turns the face into a phantom" and "the principle of individuation ceases to hold sway. They are not identical because they resemble each other, but because they have lost individuation no less than socialization and communication. This is the operation of the close-up" (Deleuze 2005a, 101). The images in the assemblages lose their identities as part of their contexts and their intensity may efface, paradoxically, simultaneously with the excessive repetition of the sensuous attraction. "The face is both the close-up and its effacement." This is the "nihilism of the face. . . confronted with its nothingness" (Deleuze 2005a, 102). The montage shows the scarcity, even minimalism inherent to images of drug use. This phantom-like quality is excessive in the multilayered montage.

[32] The attempt to think cinematically also means taking a relation to these images and making them perform as audiovisual materials, intensities and speeds. A montage practice keeps the images flowing and moving, and forms new connections in the audiovisual realm. The processes show how conventional and standardized this image type may be: it is about "bare repetition" as standardization and automatism (Deleuze 2007, 128), and in this way makes materially tangible the images as part of dominant discourse. This may function as a media critique of the stereotype, as it shows the cultural fixation with the image type – injection porn as an ambivalent seduction with alterity and an attempt to manage it. But it may also function as sensuous overindulgence with the injection, which heightens the intensity of injection-attraction as both nauseating and chilling. Thus, image-based analysis and its results enable restoring the ambiguity of audiovisual moving images, and may deal with critique and fascination simultaneously. This simultaneity is a feature of an audiovisual event, a transformation where the repetitivity both rigidifies (to bare repetition) and sets into new movement (repetition with a difference), where assemblages of injection images form new kinds of movements, effects and flows.

Discussion and conclusion

[33] Injection is a fetish – not only of drug users but a collective one. The injection shots momentarily fix the images of what is thinkable and sayable about intravenous drug use, centering it on an overindulgence in injection and reducing "addicted bodies" into pin cushions. This is immobility; a process of stratification. But how do these images flow? How do they destratify as image-events? This has been delineated by developing an approach of "cinematic thinking" in the Deleuzo-Guattarian framework for conceptualizing the aesthetics and effects of these images. Schizoanalysis encourages making new connections: these are made by expanding the register of writing towards audiovisuality, of cut and montage, of movement and sound.

[34] First, these images form repetitive processes, slipping away from the openness of the event. This is accentuated by assembling a repetitive montage of these scenes through which the images are examined. Second, the montages forge an addictive assemblage in many senses of the term "addiction," with moments of immersion, engagement and stagnation. In the repetitive series of extreme injection images, there are possibilities to movement and flow as well as to fixity and disconnections, and the unbearable crack or the effacement of identity. This is also true of any research process that bases itself on the sampling of material by certain category: a categorizing approach itself may be understood as an "addiction assemblage," a process that sedimentarizes a cliché, that overindulges with attraction-injection. There may be something that freezes and fixes in this very process, approaching the level zero of a junkie, embodied in a "collecting mania" and categorization of an image type. However, movements, speeds, stratification and condensations emerge with the processing of the images in the research practice – the research process itself is a process of movement. As it is based on collecting a series of injection images, it is simultaneously about strengthening the repetitiousness of the image type and about destratification and opening up these clichéd images; a layering that "builds a wall of stones," simultaneously brining about new movements and audiovisualites. Any collecting of data may be imbrication, but the data montage also has a life and effects of its own.

[35] Being out of the ordinary, images of drug injection bring about movement in their sometimes unbearable intensity, their otherness, and thus the destratification that enables a body-in-becoming, out from the grip of the socius. "How they work" is about how they approach an event as a transition on the site of the limits of the sayable, the image-event. They are unsettled in between an unbearable becoming or soon-to-end openness of the event, and recollective connections. Thus they do not completely dissipate into their clichéd forms, but gain a movement towards a momentum of new integrity. This is affectivity as transition, that John Fitzgerald sees as integral to cinematic drug images and their strong affectivity as, in particular, cinematic events: "perhaps what may be happening when we are exposed to drug signs is a becoming, a moment of transition between forms... drug-users and cinema-goers alike seek these moments of movement, they seek to become affected, they seek becoming-other" (Fitzgerald 2010, 214). But even if the process of engaging with the injection images evokes a moment and a transition, an image-event as a destratification, the events do not "last very long." These are in process constantly evolving in time, and soon re-stratifying – in the case of drug intensities, following Malins (2004), to "drug user," "addict," "deviant," "criminal" or "recovering addict."

[36] Addiction may be defined as being "to both directions at once" (Deleuze 2004, 3), as a becoming with both productive and destructive dimensions. When it is understood as a term that reduces the multiplicity of life into rigid categories and logics that treat the world with neglecting its multiplicity, the clichéd images may be understood as addictive in destructive sense. Thus, if addiction is something that narrows down the possibilities of life as habit grows too strong (Malins 2004), addiction and cliché may be understood to have something in common. Cliché refers to unwilled repetition and fixity that is also present in addictive repetition. But, on the other hand, it may also be thought that there is something addictive and productive in these repeating affection-images, these close-ups of drug injection. Thus cliché is not only empty repetition but brings about the effects of the affection-image: the ecstasy of the affect and the effacing of identity.

[37] The images of drug injection may be understood as momentums in the cultural processes of addiction, obsessions, pleasures and dangers. The dangers attributed to these images also may be associated with the dangers of the addictive processes: worries have been attached to the depiction of drug use on film; apparently, those vulnerable to the myths shown identify with them. The research on the intensities of coolness Deleuze and Guattari ascribe to the drug-using body by citing Burroughs resonates with heroin users' views on heroin use (Duterte & al. 2003). Thus, it will be important to study also these cultural constructions of danger and desire with respect to not only the drugs themselves but also to the cultural images of drugs, and how their aesthetics function on both levels.


[1] The term hard core was the title of Linda Williams's book on porn films (Williams 1989). The close-ups that overindulge with the needle penetrating the skin share the logics of extreme explicitness with the penetration images of porn movies and might sometimes be called injection porn.

[2] As an exception, see International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 19, Issue 5, 2008.

[3] The first explicit injection shot in a mainstream film is believed to be featured in The Panic in Needle Park, which is the earliest film in this study. Before that, it had been presented in certain underground films, like More (Barbet Schroeder 1969). The materials in this study consist of a film from the 1970s, one from the 1980s, and most from the 1990s, which reflects the popularization of the injection image in international hits like Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting.

[4] There are many associations between injection, cinema and addiction. Injection is repetitious self harming behaviour for pleasure and may in itself be addictive, as has been stated in several studies on needle fixation (e.g. Vitellone 2004; Pates & al. 2001). Cinematic images of drug injected bodies imply a pharmacologically addicted body, and the syringe produces the body of opiate user as degenerative, reducing the social agency of the drug user (Vitellone 2004). The heroin injector is entering the "harderst drug" (Kaplan 1983) and the "last phase" of drug use by injection (Pates & al., 2001).



Addiction (Abel Ferrara 1994)

Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky 2000)

Bad Lieutenant (Abel Ferrara 1992)

Candy (Neil Armfield 2006)

Christiane F. - Wir Kindern vom Bahnhof Zoo (Ulrich Edel 1981)

Clean (Olivier Assayas 2004)

Gia (Michael Cristofer 1998)

Factory Girl (George Hickenlooper 2006)

Killing Zoe (Roger Avary 1993)

The Panic in Needle Park (Jerry Schatzberg 1971)

Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino 1994)

Rush (Lili Fini Zanuck 1991)

Spun (Jonas Åkerlund 2002)

Trainspotting (Danny Boyle 1996)


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