The Diagram and the Catastrophe

February 22, 2012

Bacon seems to find his pleasure in painting to be the possibility to distort or edit the literal image. (p.100, the diagram) For the process of his work he describes two components; the diagram and the catastrophe. The diagram could be seen as representing the separate components in the painting, as if it represents a visual kit of parts that you have been handed out to work with. It is how you stretch and tweak these components – or this diagram – that creates the story, the dramatic act, or the ‘catastrophe’. It is the catastrophe that creates a ‘taste of sensation’, because it is the catastrophe that takes these objects and starts to edit them, subjectify them and as such creating sensations. (p. 100, the diagram) Deluze seems to see the act of the catastrophe as an happening that the painter is not fully in control over. “It is as if the hand assumed an independence and began to be guided by other focus, making marks that no longer depend on either our will or our sight.” (p. 101, the diagram) It is as if the hand intervenes, takes control over the brain and starts to question the literal components of the diagram. “One can no longer see anything, as if in a catastrophe, a chaos.” (p. 101, the diagram) This quote suggest this sensation of losing control, as if all other senses momentarily shut down, while the hand itself gain powers of all of the senses, as if the hand can see, feel and smell the way forward, removed from the our body.

Deluze further on states that this creating of the catastrophe can fail in two ways. Either by creating a nostalgia for the components of the diagram and getting too caught in keeping them as is. Or on the other-hand if going to far in distorting the components and stretching the diagram too much, it will become unreadable. Bacon claims that the task of the diagram is to be “suggestive” which Wittgenstein describes as introducing “possibilities of facts”. (p.101, the diagram) If the diagram represents the tangible, the catastrophe might be seen as the more mysterious, the drama or the story that is open for interpretation and might escape our hands. Both the diagram and the catastrophe needs each other and together create a figure that “unlock areas of sensations”. (pg 102, the diagram)



One Response to “The Diagram and the Catastrophe”

  1. At first I was not sure whether I agreed with you that the diagram is a little like a kit of parts, but I think you might be on to something. In fact, in employing diagrammatic processes, Bacon does use similar techniques, which he develops over time: flat monochromatic backgrounds; contours or structuring systems, or lines that describe the outlines of spaces and figures; and the Figure. Between these three approaches (which Deleuze discusses in other chapters of Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation), the artist sees how far he can approach chaos without losing control. Please edit your post and correct the spelling of Deleuze’s name! The diagram scratching out a kit of parts is good…perhaps try and do an overlay diagram on a Bacon canvas, sketching out Bacon’s kit of parts? H. Frichot

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