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Gilles Deleuze's ideas on non-Euclidean narrative:

a step towards fractal narrative

German A. Duarte
Ruhr-Universitt Bochum

crire n'a rien voir avec signifier,
mais avec arpenter, cartographier,
mme des contres venir [1]
[1] Until the second half of the twentieth century, linguistic and formalist theories
highly influenced the understanding of both visual media and the spaces derived
from them. In particular, theories of linguistics were applied to the study of filmic
narrative structures in formalist critical theories. However, this type of formalistic
analysis has been employed less frequently since Deleuze's works on cinema were
published in the 1980s [2]. Since Deleuze's intervention, it has become less
common to approach cinema purely as a language in both French meanings
of langage and langue. Indeed, the search for a 'cinematographic syntax'
understood during the formalist period as a series of rules or principles governing
the structure of a language, rather than its Greek meaning of 'arrangement'
() was replaced by the search for narrative spaces governed by
geometrical rules, including narrative spaces shaped by non-Euclidean geometries.
[2] This paper will investigate how Deleuze, through his works on cinema, moved
cinematographic narrative away from the sphere of linguistics and how in this way
he developed a rapprochement of audiovisual narrative to geometrical spaces,
mainly to non-Euclidean geometries. In fact, it is the contention of this paper that
Deleuze's theory is deeply influenced by the effect video technology in the 1980s
had on the spatial organization of audiovisual narratives. In addition, if one takes
Deleuze's theories on cinematographic and audiovisual narrative as a starting
point of investigation, it is possible to identify the influence of Mandelbrot's fractal
geometry on the structure of audiovisual narrative spaces. Significantly, in the last
twenty years, digital technology has made the development of fractal geometry
possible, thereby directly changing the ways in which audiovisual narrative spaces
are organized.
[3] In this paper, then, I will first briefly analyze the influence of structuralism on the
analysis of cinematographic narrative. Subsequently, I will discuss Deleuze's
theorizations on the cinematic medium. In the final section, I will explore how film
narrative may be seen as an example of spatial organization which is directly
influenced by technological improvements, and how digital technology generates
a kind of fractal ordino in audiovisual narrative.

[4] Cinematographic technology has long been understood as the result of a long
chain of advances in visual media, from the invention of the camera obscura to the
streamlining of the photographic technique. Deleuze departs from this dominant
history of the cinematic medium. He suggests that the cinematographic technique
finds its prehistory in instantaneous photography, in the equidistance of the
snapshots materialized by the film as a surface, and in the mechanism from which
the images are mechanically driven (Lumire's invention of claws). [3] This accurate
revision can be read as Deleuze's desire to release the cinematographic image from
its Euclidean legacy. Like Bergson, Deleuze contends that cinema operates under a
completely new mode of spatial organization. In fact, Deleuze theorizes, inCinma
1 and Cinma 2, that even if this new spatial organization were to derive from a
machine that operated according to Euclidean laws, it is able to develop a space in
'becoming' and to exert a non-Euclidean ordino. In fact, he compares the narrative
space developed by some directors to non-Euclidean spaces, e.g. Bresson's films
with Riemannian spaces, Robbe-Grillet's films with quantic spaces, and Resnais's
films with topologic spaces. [4] Consequently, in Deleuze's analysis, filmic narrative
once again acquires the status of geometry, a status that was previously lost due to
the influence of linguistics on cinematographic analysis. However, Deleuze did not
arrive at this result without a number of precedents; indeed, following in Bergson's
footsteps, a few scholars had previously attempted to highlight the geometrical
character of cinematographic practices.
[5] An example is Jean Epstein's L'intelligence d'une machine, published in 1946.
Here, the author investigates cinematography as a spatial organization directly
derived from the geometrical imposition of the camera. In Epstein's analysis, the
camera, provided with its own intelligence, creates a particular space liberated
from the 'hierarchy' of natural things. In his words, "Tous les systmes
compartiments de la nature se trouvent dsarticuls." [5] The capacity of the
cinematographic camera to destroy the dogma of the irreversibility of life was for
Epstein an important factor that required long study and placed the analysis of film
narrative more in spatial terms than in linguistic ones. According to Epstein, the
inexistence of entropy in filmic space becomes not only a special narrative
instrument but also a different way to analyze life, to bring about some new
phenomenological inputs and confront mankind with them. [6] According to
Epstein, the cinematographic camera was erroneously considered a machine "to
reform and popularize the theater" instead of a philosophical instrument that
could offer a new way to analyze the world, including society. [7]
[6] Despite these first attempts, the intensive search for a grammar for filmic
narratives eclipsed the study of the cinematic medium as a geometrical form. In
fact, linguistic analyses dominated theories of film narrative. It seems that this
current of thought was mainly inspired by Algirdas J. Greimas's Smantique
structurale, in which he notes that the process of signification cannot occur without
the interaction between two terms subjected to a relation that bonds them into a
single unit. In film theory, this hypothesis was supported by the Kuleshov
effect. [8] It is probable that the Kuleshov effect was used to support a link between
linguistic and filmic narrative through which Greimas's formalist theories could find
a scientific approach to film narrative studies.
[7] The formalist 'mistake' consisted most probably in adopting
Sassure's smiologie not as a field of study that includes linguistics but as a field of
study included in linguistics. Therefore, under the influence of French formalism,
film narrative was approached as a language, or as a visual Esperanto, as
showcased in the work of Christian Metz. In fact, Metz, during the first phase of his
intellectual production, attempted to demonstrate that film narrative responds to
linguistic analysis. He also attempted to theorize how a fixed relationship between
signifying and signified was constructed by certain visual effects used in film
narratives. For example, Metz's formalistic analysis interpreted the frame as a word,
the shot as a sentence, a close-up as a synecdoche, and some cinematographic
effects as punctuation marks. But his perfect analogy between filmic narrative
structure and linguistics could not successfully overcome two challenges: the
absence of double articulation in film narrative, and the impression of reality
generated by the photographic medium. [9]
[8] The opposition between Deleuze's and Metz's theories is clear. In fact, Deleuze
theorized that reference to a linguistic model in film narrative is
unnecessary. [10] Hence, he highlighted again the geometrical character of
cinematography. In order to do so, Deleuze undertook a thorough analysis of
Bergson's works. This analysis brought him to analyze cinema as a geometry,
namely as a spatial organization derived from a visual medium able to mediate the
relationship Man Nature, after becoming a narrative instrument.
[9] Since Cinema 1. L'image-mouvement, Deleuze has argued that both Pier Paolo
Pasolini and Roman Jakobson analyzed framing (cadrage) by means of unnecessary
linguistic terms. Instead, Deleuze finds an analogy for framing in the concepts of
informatics, rather than linguistics. [11] He theorizes a narrative structure in which
framing is a dynamic spatial construction in 'becoming,' even though it is limited in
its geometry and its physical character. [12] Its dynamic is based on the frame's
capacity to divide and link different spaces. These spaces can be in the frame due
to the frame's layered structure, derived from its inner structure, composed in sets
and subsets, but also in the totality of the succession of images. Deleuze composes
a space where the enclosed set, represented by the frame, is linked with the Whole
(le Tout) by means of the off-screen (hors-cadre). [13] As one can see, in this
structure proposed by Deleuze, we can find Bergson's concept of the inexistence of
totally enclosed systems.
[10] Through Bergson's theories, which identify Time as an exterior, infinite entity
in the continuous process of 'becoming' and theorizes the inexistence of
completely enclosed systems, [14] Deleuze theorizes that filmic narratives are
never absolutely closed narrative systems. This allows him to formulate the off-
screen (hors-cadre) space in a different manner than in structuralist film theories
and, consequently, to theorize a new narrative structure in spatial organization in
film. It is also possible to suggest that in this structure, the off-screen space
represents an entity in absentia, which builds a folded structure, or a space within
the space in presentia. According to Deleuze, every single frame in presentia, to use
the above definition, is accompanied and linked to an exterior space that I will call
space in absentia, which can serve two roles: the off-screen space may set up a
relation to the other frames (the latter understood as spatial sets), or place the
frame in relation to the Whole. This encased structure, or to follow the Deleuzian
concept, folded structure, finds its existence in the hors-cadre. In Deleuze's words:
"(...) un ensemble tant cadre, donc vu, il y a toujours un plus grand ensemble, ou
un autre avec lequel le premier en forme un plus grand, et qui peut tre vu son
tour, condition de susciter un nouveau hors-champ, etc. L'ensemble de tous ces
ensembles forme une continuit homogne, un univers ou un plan de matire
proprement illimit." [15] Thus, a film's spatial organization acquires a complex
structure that can be perceived as a web of heterogeneous entities inseparably
associated. [16] Note that even if this structure is subject to the linearity imposed
by the material surface of the film, the many links generated by this encased spatial
order do not create an arborescent structure.[17] The geometrical character of
cinematographic narrative highlighted by Deleuze can be primarily identified in
the single frame of a sequence. In fact, framing is understood as the determination
of a relatively enclosed system that constitutes a set composed of subsets.[18]
[11] Motion pictures put in this space can be understood as the interaction
between the space in presentia and the spacein absentia (in other words, between
paradigm and syntagm or, using informatics terms, between Interface and
Database). [19] Thus, editing provides cinema with the ability to articulate the
narrative space of moving pictures and to create a new geometry. According to
Deleuze, editing allows a single object to be connected to the Whole and to
determine the Whole itself. He not only identified editing as the act of putting
frames a space composed of layers in succession, he also suggested that editing
could be present in the inner dynamics of a single frame, in the inner dynamics of
this layered object, thus creating a palimpsest. [20] As a consequence, editing
becomes the essence of the Deleuzian spatial composition because it governs the
'layout' (agencement) of images-movement. Further, according to Deleuze
the image-movement is placed in relation to the Whole by means of
editing. [21] However, as mentioned above, Deleuze also posits that the logic of
narrative spaces can be non-Euclidean; a film's Gestaltung reflects in some way the
'rhizomorphic structure' already theorized by Deleuze and Guattari (Deleuze
Guattari 1980) some years before. In his view, the objects placed in the
cinematographic narrative space, which are seen as a set (agencement), follow a
principle of connection and heterogeneity similar to that theorized in the
introduction of Mille Plateaux (DeleuzeGuattari 1980), where any point of the set
can be connected to any other. [22] The meaning, in this narrative space, derives
from 'semantic chains' of any kind e.g. linguistic, perceptive, gestural, expressive,
and cogitative [23] which are linked to one another in many different
ways. [24] The layered composition of the smallest part of the set (agencement)
personified by the frame creates, by means of its links to the Whole, a growing
system of connections, which is clearly limited by the interaction imposed by the
linearity of the film as a surface. However, this new way to understand the narrative
structure of the cinematic image allows both the comprehension of the narrative
as an opened structure and the comparison of the special narrative organization to
non-Euclidean spatial compositions, even though it derives from a Euclidean
device: the cinematographic camera. In fact, the openness of the narrative
theorized by Deleuze derives directly from the Bergsonian concept of the
inexistence of totally enclosed systems. Taking it as a postulate ("il y a toujours
hors-champ, mme dans l'image la plus close"), [25] Deleuze describes the
cinematographic image as a nesting system that shows, via the single frame, an
inner structure in which its existence is confirmed by the hors-champ.[26]
[12] As demonstrated by Deleuze's research on cinema, an accurate study of
technological improvements is required in order to attain an in-depth
understanding of the different ways of articulating the narrative space from the
beginning of the cinematographic art to the development of audiovisual
narrative. [27] Technological improvements directly influenced the narrative space,
especially by means of editing, which represents, according to Deleuze, "the pure
vision of a human eye," and provided cinematographic technology with its status
as instruments of analysis and geometry.[28]Technology, as prostheses of the
human body, allows a better understanding of natural objects and phenomena.
Visual media, as technological devices, are instruments that mediate the
relationship between object and subject. Thus, in its most advanced state, one can
suppose that they can develop a kind of consciousness or intelligence. [29] In filmic
narratives, this phenomenon can be seen when the camera acquires freedom of
movement. According to Deleuze, with regard to l'image-perception, the camera,
when trying to give the point of view of a character in the diegesis, imposes its own
point of view, a point of view in which the vision of the character is transformed
and then reflected. Thus, according to Deleuze, the viewer cannot be in front of an
image that pretends to be objective or subjective; the viewer is placed in a
"corrlation entre une image-perception et une conscience-camra qui la
transforme." [30] Deleuze goes beyond Vertov's theories about the consciousness
of the camera demonstrated in his movement Kino-Pravda.[31] In fact, Deleuze,
opposing Vertov's ideas, posits that cinematography does not represent an
improved human eye but through editing it represents a human point of
view. [32] This affirmation changes radically the understanding of machines as
simple prostheses of the human body. If one considers technology as extensions of
our body, one must accept the fact that these prostheses are aimed at improving
our sight, in the case of visual media, and in consequence they allow an objective
representation of objects and phenomena. However, if one accepts the fact that
technology deeply modifies the relationship between object and subject,
establishing a kind of relationship in which man is alienated, then one is
recognizing a kind of independence of the machine, a kind of consciousness. Thus,
Deleuze recognizes that technology represents a way to improve human senses.
However, cinematographic technology acquires its consciousness through editing.
Hence, following this framework, we may suppose that cinematographic cameras
express their own 'intelligence' by imposing a particular relationship between
narrative spaces in absentia and narrative spaces in presentia.
[13] However, I would like to draw attention to a progressive phenomenon
highlighted by Deleuze in his two volumes,Cinma 1 and Cinma 2. The new
narrative structure theorized allows him to suggest a kind of fractalization of the
narrative space. This phenomenon is highlighted in his work since L'image-
mouvement mainly in the way Deleuze understands the close-up (gros
plan). [33] Deleuze's ideas on close-up converge with Bonitzer's; in fact, Bonitzer
argues that a close-up erases the depth of field and, by means of this special
phenomenon generated by the space of the close-up, it is possible to identify the
existence of shots free from any imaginary connection with the space. [34] This
phenomenon of the fractalization of the narrative space can also be founded in
Deleuze's espace quelconque (any-space-whatever). This term, coined by Auger,
describes a space that does not appear at first as a real field; it expresses by means
of its fractal qualities an infinite space. The any-space-whatever embodies the
'space of the possible,' a sort of virtual space. This space loses its homogeneity, the
principle of metric ratio, and the 'natural laws' connecting its parts.
[14] Deleuze explained both the phenomenon of the fragmentation of the
narrative space and the elaboration of non-Euclidean spaces in a filmic narrative
through the analysis of Bresson's cinematographic production, using the visual
dynamics of Pickpocket (1959) as illustrations of his concept. Further, Deleuze
affirms that the law of these new spaces, such as the close-up or l'espace
quelconque, is the fragmentation theorized by Bresson, in which he posits
that: [35] "Elle [the fragmentation] est indispensable si on ne veut pas tomber dans
la reprsentation. Voir les tres et les choses dans leurs parties sparables. Isoler
ces parties. Les rendre indpendantes afin de leur donner une nouvelle
dpendance." [36]
[15] The process of the fractalization of the cinematographic narrative theorized by
Deleuze can be compared with the process of the development of non-Euclidean
geometries. For instance, it is possible to establish an analogy between the space
theorized by Deleuze in film narrative and the multidimensional space theorized
by Hermann Grassmann (1878). Grassmann's research constituted groundbreaking
investigations into multidimensional geometries as well as being one of the most
important steps toward the understanding of non-Euclidean geometries.[37] In
fact, Grassmann suggested a shift from the conception of geometry as a study of
physics or spatial perception, to a conception of geometry as a study of
independent structures or complex sets. In particular, he developed the concept of
'continuous form,' which is characterized by three major
phenomena: Erzeugen (generation), Setzen (positioning),
and Verknpfen(bonding). [38] Thanks to the concepts
of Setzen and Verknpfen, the 'continuous form' becomes a truly 'spatial' concept.
Within this spatial arrangement (Ordnung), one deals with an infinite space derived
from the 'continuous form,' where a single object in the set is recognized not only
by means of its position (Setzen) but also by means of its direct relation
(Verknpfen) to the whole set (agencement). In other words, the object becomes a
dimension, a direction. The space proposed by Deleuze is also multidimensional.
Further, his idea of spatial organization does not accept a structure that over-
encodes or creates a hierarchical axis. In other words, Deleuzian narrative spatial
organization does not represent an arborescent structure, which usually presents a
hierarchical system in which the object only receives information from a superior
object in a direct line.[39] Like a rhizome, Deleuze analyses the narrative structure
of cinematic medium as a 'center-less' system where the communication is not
hierarchical and where many different signs in their heterogeneity are able to
communicate. In fact, he theorizes a space in which the single image becomes a
dimension, or 'direction,' in the narrative structure, like in Grassmann's
theory. [40] In fact, Deleuze describes the type of image that establishes a fractal
and multidimensional space in film narrative as the image-cristal, a term that recalls
Grassmann's studies on crystal surfaces.
[16] The analogies between the transformation of the narrative space highlighted
by Deleuze in the passage from animage-mouvement to an image-temps and the
development of non-Euclidean geometries become more evident with the new
narrative space generated by video technology. In fact, in the early 1980s, the
influence of technological improvements on spatial composition in film became
more direct thanks to the important impact of video technology on the narrative
space. According to Deleuze, video technology represents the absence of
exteriority, i.e. a lack of hors-champ in the narrative space, [41] a conclusion clearly
influenced by Bonitzer's analysis. According to Bonitzer, video technology leads to
a metamorphosis of the nature of the image; he defines the electronic image as a
'pure surface.' Further, he suggests that the mise en scne in the video space could
be likened to the mise en page (page layout) due to the 'lack of depth' in the
space.[42] He also states that, through video technology, the image is set free from
perspective, allowing it to become a surface that one can 'inlay to infinity'
(incrustable l'infinit). [43] From a technical point of view, the image-
video embodies the continuum. Video lines are composed of points invisible to the
viewer. These points are spread over the image in temporal succession and are
constituted in time and only to a lesser extent in space. Similarly, the variation of
points is an interval. [44] Thus, video technology technically embodies some of the
theories proposed by Deleuze regarding the analog medium. On the one hand,
video technology generates an image that produces inner changes through a
variation of its minimal components (the points), which are only punctual in
character and represent a momentary entity in becoming. Therefore, the video-
image is not defined by spatial notions but by the temporality of its intervals and
by the method of its reproduction or its inner dynamics. On the other hand, the
nature of objects placed in this space radically changes. The dimension of
the video-image is not able to contain elements such as geometric figures
understood as objects. This dimension contains, in Engell's words, Nicht-einfach-
vorhanden-bleiben-knnen elements (elements that cannot just continue to
exist). [45]
[17] The space discussed above presents some analogies with another non-
Euclidean space, the Sierpinski Carpet, a proto-fractal object. [46] This proto-fractal
was conceived as a 'super object' able to contain huge quantities of information in
a space without an area, because of its infinite holes. In fact, the Sierpinski
Carpet aimed at containing one-dimensional curves on the plane in the topological
dimension. The Sierpinski Carpet, as a video-image, represents a pure
surface without depth. One can say that this proto-fractal, like the pure surface of
the video-image, can be 'inlaid to infinity' (incrust l'infinit). Both the video-
image and the Sierpinski Carpet have been defined as spaces without space, as
symbolic spaces of data without topos.
[18] The non-Euclidean ordino in the audiovisual narrative theorized by Deleuze
establishes another kind of relationship between the space in absentia and the
space in presentia. It is possible to posit that this new relationship became clear
with the appearance of video technology in audiovisual spatial organization. As
mentioned above, Deleuze focused his research on the interaction between the
different spaces that composed a multidimensional narrative space. Thus, the
technological improvements became an important factor in the analysis of
narrative spatial organization. Indeed, technology determines the way to compose
the narrative space as well as the interaction between the narrative space and the
viewer. The analysis of audiovisual narrative in spatial terms implies in
consequence the analysis of the influence of new technologies on the way of
organizing the relationship between paradigma and syntagma. The recognition of
the role played by technology in this case of the video-image on the narrative
act was also analyzed in Eco's Opera aperta. This study, despite being conducted
when formalist theories were at their peak, allowed the understanding of film
narrative space as a spatial organization. Eco interpreted the 'plot dissolution'
(dissoluzione dell'intreccio) in contemporary cinematographic narrative as a
consequence of the spatial organization imposed by television, especially live
television, which naturalizes narrative 'dead times.' [47] In Eco's view, the
phenomenon of 'dead times,' namely, the presence of non-narrative objects in the
plot, shows that the notion of plot as derived from Aristotelian poetics was
understood in contemporary audiovisual narrative as just an exterior organization
of events that guides the pathos. Eco goes further and interprets this phenomenon
of 'dead times' as the birth of an open narrative space. The apertura is in this sense
made real by means of the negation of the plot, a negation that recognizes the
world as a 'knot' of possibilities.[48] The phenomenon highlighted by Eco could
also be read, in linguistic terms, as the transformation of the fixed relationship
between Paradigm and Syntagm. Through this transformation, the Paradigm is
externalized and some 'non-narrative' elements usually present in Paradigm start
to be expressed in Syntagm. In informatics terms, one might say that the Database
radically modifies its relationship with the Interface. This phenomenon could be
interpreted as a 'fractalization' of the narrative space, which creates a pure
narrative surface in which the distance between objects in presentia and objects in
absentia simply disappears. Eco theorizes the same 'space without space' of
Bonitzer, Deleuze and Engell. Eco's theories enable the understanding of changes
to space that has been subjected to the use of digital technology in the
organization of the narrative audiovisual space. He theorizes a kind of
narrative Super Object, like theSierpinski Carpet, an object that is able to contain
enormous quantities of information, thus also making allusions to a navigable
[19] Thanks to the development of digital technology, Deleuze's and Eco's
philosophical concepts of filmic narrative space have finally been realized. In our
digital context, i.e. in the period of post-photographic technology, the Deleuzian
layered space of the single frame is realized by the range of possibilities given by
digital photography. Digital photography is not just a technology to capture
images but also to "construct images ('unseen' data from remote sensors and other
cameras) and generate images (from raw numbers); it treats them, stores them,
associates them, disburses them, and transmits them into a media flow." [49] As a
consequence, the layered space is no longer a mere allusion to a spatial structure
linked by means of hors-cadre. Thanks to post-photographic technology, the depth
of field of an image or hors-cadre is no longer the sole articulation that enables the
development of semantic chains. Post-photographic technology allows the
development of an encased structure, a sort of palimpsest, which characterizes the
hypertextual phenomenon generated by digital encoding. Further, the digital
medium blurs the distinctions between Paradigm and Syntagm. Indeed, the
possibility of creating a navigable space in which the surface (Syntagm) contains all
the informationin absentia (Paradigm), or a space in which the semantic
elements in absentia are reachable through hypertextual links, could be perceived
as the technical representation of the exteriorization of the Paradigm as theorized
by Eco.
[20] The phenomenon described by Eco became stronger when the logic imposed
by the digital medium started to govern the cinematographic narrative space. In
the 1990s, some films displayed a different type of interaction between Paradigm
and Syntagm (i.e. between Database and Interface). By way of illustration, in Peter
Greenaway's The Pillow Book (1996), the narrative act is not the result of a linear
selection [50] but the creation of a potentially navigable, non-linear space. The
'fractal spatial composition' of the film, which results from the first phase of
compositing video, creates the same relationship between layers that can also be
found in fractal objects. Finally, with the advent of computer technologies, the
Deleuzian multidimensional narrative and the creation of non-Euclidean narrative
spaces underwent radical changes again. As stated earlier, the digital medium
technically made real Deleuze's hypotheses regarding film narrative. The
developments do not stop there: narrative space also began to exhibit certain
characteristics shared by fractal geometry. [51] In fact, the instrument that enabled
the development of fractal geometry (i.e. the computer) also started to govern the
audiovisual spatial organization. [52] Fractal geometry also directly influenced the
aesthetics of film narrative. During the 1980s, with the diffusion of fractal
geometry, fractal forms exerted some influence upon architecture [53] and the
dramatic arts. [54] With respect to audiovisual media, the influence of the aesthetic
derived from fractals was particularly strong in the field of music videos, for
example in Michel Gondry's video Let Forever Be (The Chemical Brothers, 1999) and
Zbigniew Rybczynski's Let's Make Lots of Money (Pet Shop Boys, 1985). This
notwithstanding, the most important contribution of fractal geometry is that it
provided another way to analyze nature and, consequently, to represent it. As with
every visual medium, the digital medium became an instrument for the analysis of
natural objects and phenomena and developed a new space for scientific analysis,
which became in turn a narrative space. By means of fractal geometry, nature
began to be represented according to a spatial organization that accepted its
irregularity and created a special relationship between the individual unit and the
entire arrangement. In a fractal arrangement, the many links, while maintaining
their heterogeneous characteristics, produce a homogenization of the complex. In
other words, all the parts fit together and stand in direct relation to the whole
without losing their specific properties.
[21] Fractal geometry was developed thanks to computers and these same devices
have started to govern the audiovisual narrative space. The single Deleuzian frame
thus became a 'knot' of hypertextual links. It assumes more the shape of a fractal
object than that of a layered space as proposed by Deleuze. [55] At this point, the
beholder is in front of a fractal object in which Interface becomes Database in a
multidimensional space. Therefore, it is now legitimate to propose not just an
aesthetic of Interface but also of Database. [56] In fact, in a narrative space in which
the previously described interaction between Database and Interface is possible,
the inner organization of information, as well as the role of Interface programming,
plays an important aesthetic role, and allows highly expressive possibilities from
both sides. [57]
[22] Video technology, as a transitional technology or, in Spielmann's words, a
hybrid technology [58] between analog and digital media, can be understood not
only as the instrument that helped to make Deleuze's and Eco's theories regarding
narrative space a reality, but also as the technology from which certain proto-
fractal objects in the audiovisual space originated. The digital medium thus made it
possible to organize nature according to newfound geometrical laws. In a sense,
geometries and visual media share similar aims, as Deleuze demonstrated in his
studies. Both attempt to create new spaces and dimensions where natural objects
can be translated according to specific laws in order to enhance our analysis of
both nature and natural phenomena. Presently, the narrative act in the audiovisual
field is perceived as a spatial organization that might be strongly influenced by
fractal geometry beyond pure aesthetics. One could even consider fractal
geometry as an episteme that governs the narrative act. The latter can be
interpreted as the 'cartography' of the geometrical narrative space and therefore as
the geodesy of an infinite informative object.
[23] Deleuze's works certainly contributed to the understanding of the
contemporary narrative in the audiovisual media as a pure spatial organization. As
we can see, the parallel that Deleuze created between non-Euclidean geometries
and cinematographic narrative allowed not only the comprehension of the
narrative act in the audiovisual media as the organization of a space that can
manifest fractal characteristics but also as a space that is directly influenced by the
consciousness of the machine. Thus, nowadays, when narrative space is completely
governed by digital technology, one can assume that digital technology not only
transmit a fractal order in its pure aesthetic meaning but also in the logic of the
narrative act, in which the narrative attempts to map an infinite object in dvenir.

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[1] Deleuze-Guattari 1980, p. 11.
[2] See Deleuze 1983 and 1985.
[3] Deleuze 1983, p. 14.
[4] Deleuze 1985, p. 169.
[5] Epstein 1946, p. 6.
[6] Epstein explains this unique capacity of the cinematographic camera as follows:
"Une innombrable exprience a prpar le dogme de l'irrversibilit de la vie.
Toutes les volutions, dans l'atome et dans la galaxie, dans l'inorganique, dans
l'animale et dans l'humain, reoivent, de la dgradation de l'nergie, leur sens
irrvocablement unique. L'accroissement constant de l'entropie est ce qui
empche les rouages de la machine terrestre et cleste de jamais se mouvoir
rebours. Aucun temps ne peut remonter sa source; aucun effet ne peut prcder
sa cause. Et un monde qui prtendrait s'affranchir de cet ordre vectoriel ou le
modifier, parat physiquement impossible, logiquement inimaginable. Mais, voici
que, dans un vieux film d'avant-garde, dans quelque burlesque, on voit une scne
qui a t enregistre l'envers. Et le cinmatographe, tout coup, dcrit avec une
claire exactitude un monde qui va de sa fin son commencement, un antiunivers
que, jusqu'alors, l'homme ne parvenait gure se reprsenter." Epstein 1946, p. 7.
[7] Epstein 1946, p. 9.
[8] See Balzs 2001.
[9] Pasolini, by rejecting the impression of reality and arguing that cinema is in fact
reality, attempted to give to the cinematographic image a double articulation. In
fact, it was the aim of his theory which affirms that a shot is a moneme and the
objects placed in the frame are cinemes, the linguistic equivalent of which is the
phoneme. See Pasolini P.P. 1972.
[10] "La rfrence au modle linguistique finit toujours par montrer que le cinma
est autre chose, et que, si c'est un langage, c'est un langage analogique ou de
modulation. On peut ds lors croire que la rfrence au modle linguistique est un
dtour dont il est souhaitable de se passer." Interview realized by Bonitzer and
Narboni, published in Cahiers du cinma, in 1983. (no. 352).
[11] Deleuze 1983, p. 23.
[12] See Deleuze 1983, p. 24.
[13] This Whole corresponds to Bergson's concept of Le Tout, which is defined by
means of the relationship between objects. According to Bergson, the relationship
is not an intrinsic property of the objects themselves, but an exterior phenomenon.
In other words, Le Tout describes how the capacity of an object to be related to
another object is not an object's intrinsic property but an attribute pertaining to
the Whole, which represents an immutable and universal entity toward which
every object is projected. In Bergson's view, the Whole is Time, a universal and
indivisible entity to which every object and movement is connected.
[14] "Nous verrons que la matire a une tendance constituer des systmes
isolables, qui se puissent traiter gomtriquement. C'est mme par cette tendance
que nous la dfinirons. Mais ce n'est qu'une tendance. La matire ne va pas
jusqu'au bout, et l'isolement n'est jamais complet. Si la science va jusqu'au bout et
isole compltement, c'est pour la commodit de l'tude. Elle sous-entend que le
systme, dit isol, reste soumis certains influences extrieurs." Bergson 1907, p.
503. (10).
[15] Deleuze 1983, p. 29.
[16] I would like to link this concept to Morin's description of complexity in which
he defined complexity as follows, "Au premier abord, la complexit est un tissu
(complexus: ce qui est tiss ensemble) de constituants htrognes
insparablement associs: ell pose le paradoxe de l'un et du multiple. Au second
abord, la complexit est effectivement le tissu d'vnements, actions, interactions,
rtroactions, dterminations, alas, qui constituent notre monde phnomnal."
Morin 2005, p. 21.
[17] Arborescent is a term employed by Deleuze-Guattari (Mille Plateaux) to create
a conceptual distinction between the rhizomatic structure, which is a non-
hierarchical conception where each unity of the complexus is linked with
everything, and the arborescent structure, which imposes a hierarchical structure
based on binary cuts that only allows unidirectional developments. Both terms
come from the field of botany and dendrology. In fact, both make reference to the
growth mechanisms developed by nature. The term arborescent makes allusion to
the shape or the characteristics of a tree, to its branching structure, and the term
rhizomatic makes allusion to the horizontal stem of a plant that grows
[18] I consider important to quote Deleuze's words on this definition: "On
appelle cadrage la dtermination d'un systme clos, relativement clos, qui comprend
tout ce qui est prsent dans l'image, dcors, personages, accessoires. Le cadre
constitue donc un ensemble qui a un grand nombre de parties, c'est--dire
d'lments qui entrent eux-mmes dans des sous-ensembles." Deleuze 1983, p. 23.
[19] See Manovich 2002.
[20] Deleuze 1983, p. 46-47. See also Ropars-Wuilleumier 1999.
[21] Deleuze 1983, p. 46.
[22] I refer especially to chapter one, Introduction: Rhizome. In particular we can see
in the next passage that Deleuze-Guattari mention a kind of structure that recalls
the cinematographic narrative structure. "N'importe quel point d'un rhizome peut
tre connect avec n'importe quel autre, et doit l'tre. C'est trs diffrent de l'arbre
ou de la racine qui fixent un point, un ordre. L'arbre linguistique la manire de
Chomsky commence encore un point S et procde par dichotomie. Dans un
rhizome au contraire, chaque trait ne renvoie pas ncessairement un trait
linguistique: des chanons smiotiques de toute nature y sont connects des
modes d'encodage trs divers, chanons biologiques, politiques, conomiques,
etc., mettant en jeu non seulement des rgimes de signes diffrents, mais aussi des
statuts d'tats de choses." Deleuze-Guattari 1980, p. 13.
[23] See Deleuze-Guattari 1980, p. 14.
[24] It is interesting to quote Deleuze's words with regard to this subject: "Il ne
s'agit pas encore de savoir ce que signifie tel signe, mais quel autre signe il renvoi,
quels autre signes s'ajoutent lui, pour former un rseau sans dbut ni fin qui
projette son ombre sur un continuum amorphe atmosphrique" (Deleuze-Guattari
1980, p. 141). This passage recalls the process of differentiation of the cinematic
image theorized by Deleuze in L'image-temps in which he describes the
cinematographic image as a "matire signaltique qui comporte de traits de
modulation de toute sorte, sensoriels (visuels et sonores), kinsiques intensives,
affectives, rythmiques, tonaux, et mme verbaux (oraux et crits)." Deleuze 1985, p.
44. Further he describes the image, making difference between the structure of a
language, as a "masse plastique, une matire a-signifiante et a-syntaxique, une
matire non linguistiquement forme, bien qu'elle ne soit pas amorphe et soit
forme smiotiquement, esthtiquement, et pragmatiquement." Deleuze 1985, p.
[25] Deleuze 1983, p. 31.
[26] This concept is clearly explained by Deleuze in this extract: " C'est en lui-mme,
ou en tant que tel, que le hors-champ a dj deux aspects qui diffrent en nature:
un aspect relatif par lequel un systme clos renvoie dans l'espace un ensemble
qu'on ne voit pas, et qui peut son tour tre vu, quitte susciter un nouvel
ensemble non-vu, l'infini; un aspect absolu par lequel le systme clos s'ouvre
une dure immanente au tout de l'univers, qui n'est plus un ensemble et n'est pas
de l'ordre du visible." Deleuze 1983, p. 30.
[27] See Fahle 1999.
[28] Maybe that is the reason why Deleuze did not carry out an in-depth analysis of
early cinema, when the camera was fixed and there was no editing, that is to say,
when the movement was accomplished just in the inner structure of the frame by
means of the movement of actors and objects. See Fahle 1999.
[29] This phenomenon certainly derives from the dependence that technology
generates in its highly-codified nature. Digital technology accentuated this
phenomenon. In Flusser's words: "Die technischen Bilder sind Ausdruck des
Versuchs, die Punkelemente um uns herum und in unserem Bewusstsein auf
Oberflchen zu raffen, um die zwischen ihnen klaffenden Intervalle zu stopfen; des
Versuchs, Elemente wie Photonen oder Elektronen einerseits und Informationsbits
anderseits in Bilder zu setzen. So etwas knnen weder die Hnde noch die Augen,
noch die Finger leisten. Denn die Elemente sind weder fabar, noch sind die
sichtbar oder greifbar. Deshalb mssen Apparate erfunden werden, die fr uns das
Unfassbare fassen, das Unsichtbar imaginieren, das Unbegreifliche konzipieren
knnen. Und diese Apparate mssen, um von uns kontrolliert werden zu knnen,
mit Tasten versehen sein, Die Apparate sind Voraussetzung fr die Erzeugung der
technischen Bilder." Flusser 1996, p. 21.
[30] Deleuze 1983, p. 108.
[31] On this subject see Vertov 2011.
[32] Deleuze 1983, p. 117.
[33] "(...) le gros plan n'arrache nullement son objet un ensemble dont il ferait
partie, dont il serait partie, mais, ce qui est tout fait diffrente, il l'abstrait de toutes
coordonnes spatio-temporelles, c'est--dire il l'lve l'tat d'Entit." Deleuze 1985,
p. 136.
[34] Bonitzer 1982, p. 37. The phenomenon was also analyzed by Balzs in his
work Der Geist des Films specially in Die Kontinuitt des Raums, p. 60.
[35] Deleuze 1983, p. 153.
[36] Bresson 1975, p. 95.
[37] See Lewis 1975.
[38] See, in general, Grassmann 1878.
[39] Deleuze-Guattari 1980, p. 25.
[40] The transformation of objects represented in the image into vectors
establishes an analogy with Grasmann's theories. However this phenomenon had
already been studied in Mille Plateux by Deleuze-Guattari. In fact, as we can see in
the follow extracts, the rhizomatic structure described in Mille Plateux shares some
aspects with the narrative structure of the cinematic medium. In Mille Plateux, they
affirm: "Il [the rhizome] n'est pas fait d'units, mais de dimensions, ou plutt de
directions mouvantes." Deleuze-Guattari 1980, p. 31. The unities in
the complexus are described as dimensions, or directions, vectors that embody the
nature of dvenir of every system. This phenomenon is presented by Deleuze in his
oeuvre on cinema, especially in Cinma 2. As an example, I can quote Deleuze's
analysis of Mizoguchi's long take, which he defines as follows: "Le plan-squence
assure une sorte de paralllisme des vecteurs orients diffremment, et constitue
ainsi une connexion des morceaux d'espace htrognes, confrant une
homognit trs spciale l'espace ainsi constitu." Deleuze 1983, p. 263.
[41] "Les nouvelles images n'ont plus d'extriorit (hors-champ), pas plus qu'elles
ne s'intriorisent dans un tout: elles sont plutt un endroit et un envers, reversibles
et non superposables, comme un pouvoir de se retourner sur elle-mmes. Elles
sont objet d'une rorganisation perptuelle o une nouvelle image peut natre de
n'importe quel point de l'image prcdente." Deleuze 1985, p. 347.
[42] See Bonitzer 1982, p. 41.
[43] "Tous les trous sont toujours bouchs par ce qui vient affleurer en surface, il n'y
a pas de trou puisqu'il n'y a que des incrustations, des fleurs qui viennent clore
la place des yeux, un nez qui merge mme la bouche, un lapin dans le pavillon
de l'oreille et le tout en musique, muzak." Bonitzer 1982, p. 40.
[44] See Engell 1999.
[45] Some analogies arise from this interpretation of the image in becoming. In
fact, being the image-video in perpetual 'becoming' even in its inner structure, it is
possible to claim that it personifies a continuum where the space does not respond
to a spatial mold or to a relationship of form to matter. Thus, it can be possible to
analyze the video-image as anobjectil, like Deleuze theorized for the anamorphism
in his analysis of Leibniz. As described by Deleuze, an objectilcannot be interpreted
as a point in space; it is a situs subjected to transformations. Thus, the
transformation of the object to an objectil imposes a change of the subject, which
Deleuze defined as a superject. Consequently, the relationship
between objectil and superject implies a new notion of point of view. In fact, if
object becomes objectil, i.e. it follows a group of transformation, the subject
becomes superject, i.e. becomes a point of view on a site. See Deleuze 1988.
[46] The Proto-fractals were developed during the nineteenth century and are
mathematical formulae and geometric objects that, at that time, were considered
'monsters of mathematics' because of their infinite structures. They were the result
of research focused on both the development of non-Euclidean geometries and
the creation of mathematical spaces able to include an infinite number of forms
and information. These creations played a fundamental role in Mandelbrot's
concept of a new geometry.
[47] Eco 1962, especially Il caso e l'intreccio. L'esperienza televisiva e l'estetica, pp.
[48] See in more detail Eco 1962, p. 200: "Nel rifiuto dell'intreccio si attua il
riconoscimento del fatto che il mondo un nodo di possibilit e che l'opera d'arte
deve riprodurne questa fisionomia".
[49] Ascott 1992.
[50] Aristotle, Poetic 1451a.
[51] Fractal geometry was developed in the 1970s by the French-Polish
mathematician Benot Mandelbrot (1924-2010) and is a mathematical explanation
for natural and unnatural phenomena that are considered chaotic. See Mandelbrot
1983 and 1995.
[52] Initially, fractal geometry was applied to the analysis of movements in the
stock market and their curves in order to predict economic phenomena.
Mandelbrot, by analyzing huge quantities of information with computers, found
that in between the scales of chaotic economic movements there exists a degree
of harmony that could represent a possibility to understand and predict those
movements. Aiming at understanding those chaotic movements, Mandelbrot used
proto-fractal objects like the Koch Snowflake and Cantor Set. (See Peiten-Jrgen-
Saupe 1992 and Mandelbrot 1963 and 1967). By means of the first computers,
which could analyze huge quantities of information, Mandelbrot could understand,
by applying these 'monsters of mathematics,' not only the development of the
chaotic movements of the stock market but also a new episteme, which changed
humankind's way of organizing and representing space.
[53] In general, see Bovill 1996.
[54] In general, see Lavandier 2004.
[55] It is important to remember that a fractal object is infinite and it is also able to
contain infinite quantities of information. This was, in fact, the goal of proto-fractal
[56] See Caronia 2006.
[57] See Caronia 2006.
[58] See Spielmann 2005.