On Gesture: The Transversal Movement of Labor Through Multiplicity

by Nick James Scavo
Aug 24, 2015

Radiant signals and towering structures sit on the horizon as a plural, molecular, moving system — a continent of dense multiplicity.

The perception of our horizon often becomes static and symbolic — it becomes localized and understood as furniture. Pragmatic, reflective experience is rendered as moveable, arrangeable, but fixed as a unit of understandability and utility, a literal furnishing of experience. The little horizon can turn as large as a cosmic flash, as particular dusts move as solar wind across a vacuum; all the while, we see the noema of experience perceived as regular, created by the whims and necessities of subjectification. This can cause perception to nullify.

The concretization of the subject’s perception problematizes transcendental orientations through perception, empirical study, and logics; in short, the reading of gesture as epochérenders the gesture imperceptible. Perceiving the world turn over, as a magnetic field might flip, or to have a body descend into a pool of magma, are perceptions lost unto the diffusion of material dispersed away from consciousness — back into solar wind and melted rock. Even still, the live body gestures in and out of oblivion, by scooping up magma or climbing a cliff-face — scrawling paint on concrete, etc. The gesture as a phenomenological unit of simultaneous action and perception has caused phenomenology to look beyond the whims of the subject and into the bracketing of perception — epoché. Especially within the creative context, gesture moves through sensation and action, as phenomenology attempts to study that unit of daemonic knowing within embodiment, a sort of unvoiced utterance becoming actual unconsciously.

Creative action wills a contextualized horizon to become inspired in a subject’s action; yet, many phenomenologists would have it that the subject is metabolizing the horizon within consciousness, through its gesturing — a transcendental orientation. Innately anthropocentric, this perspective places the perception of gesture as a primary project of the world, directed and and intertwined with that world; the gesture’s motion is a transversal exchange between consciousness and this material — an enunciation of being that philosophy can ultimately ratify again and moreover. The inseparable inter-subjectivity that occurs through the examination of the innate structures of experience — as pragmatic or esoteric as they may be — allows perception to function as a fact unto the world, an infinite meditation provoking the awareness and perceptibility of the subject’s apprehension of material.

Even for empiricists, gestures are “seen” and interpreted in terms of their causality — eventually developing systems through their axiomatic exchange and development as an epistemological dialectic. This is inherently a differential dialectics. For one, can a system of gesturing be ordered in such a way as to be more meaningful than another system of gesture? Do the signs of particular gesturing remove its relation and production as a molecular multiplicity? Or, do the pragmatics of gesture force it into subjective utility?

Gesture is at the heart of a discourse on performance and production. The word itself is a powerful one, evoking naturalistic connotations that are meaningful to the creative act, where the gesture contains an essential movement toward apprehension andcomprehension. This functions as the manipulation of materials extended from the subject’s will and desire (apprehension), and the reflexive materialization of that content (comprehension). Regularly and historically, gesture’s evocation isn’t necessarily understood as material, although materials have been thought to become apprehended and comprehended through it. Its “naturalism” has referred to a method of inquiry, a framework for discovery — something that could very well apprehend materials while remaining rooted in performativity, in utterance, in embodiment.

Gesture’s looseness of orientation develops a framework for performance and maneuvering. This has been traditionally understood as a pragmatic development through reflection — the learning of movement; or, it can be known evolutionarily, through valuation and development in chance — discovering the means through the end, through movement happening verbatim in an environment that is itself moving. Reflection gives gesture agency to sit on continuums within the history and futurity of gesturing — a systemization of gesture’s multiplicity within and across objects.

Phenomenological primacy has relied upon the study of gesture as a means toward apprehending essence. The “authentic” notion of this exists as painterly evocation — the splatter-motion that apprehends the materiality of paint, through its phenomena, through an inspired movement of materials. Still, this position’s gesture is peculiar to the subject, as a faculty that’s possessed and mastered to proclaim an authentic utterance, an authentic differentiation. Alternatively, the gesture can become a ritual specific to a concretized language within space — the queuing of multiple phenomena aggregating into a dense, publicized communication.

Yet always, perhaps in an effort to remove the innate privilege of human consciousness, there is a need to view gesture embodied only in terms of its movement. Gesture’s motion sits within infinite materials existing before, during, and after the subject — its action is implicit. So how does gesture often become the uttered subjectification of reality? Also, how do social and relational assemblages take the a-signifying code of movement, only to contextualize it within the subject’s will to capitalize upon utterance?

The transcendental bracketing of gesture is what gives way to its concretization — its gesture can differentiate movement into iconography, as representations of its original efficacy as movement. The immanent materiality of setting is gesture always in movement: its action doesn’t only evoke it, its ontology moves and only moves. Furthermore, phenomenology’s use of epoché as it relates to apprehending and ratifying the viscerality of perception will escape the totality of gesture unless it focuses on the noema of labor, and gesture’s densification through that labor, as the fundamental frame of its movement. Labor’s implicit gesture, it’s machinic desire to move materials, is inclusive of and particularized by consciousness.

Yet, if that consciousness becomes the only arranger of densifying its particular infrastructure and the sole mediator of its modular arrangement of extrema, it forces a teleological suspension of the very material that it transversally interacts with — an implicit transcendental gesturing. In this sense, the perception and phenomenological orientation toward gesture is an instruction manual for how the subject relates to material; yet, if taken alone, its instructions imply a particularized, self-signifying machine that produces and orients materials as closed to speculation outside of what is directly read. The force of labor towards production itself becomes less than the aphasia of experience.

The transcendental study of gesture produces mass transversality on the molar scale, a schematic transversality always connected to dynamics of power.

Gesturing is allowed a dense performance of molecular movement when framed as an act, as an event, as a transformation, attached to desiring — as optimizations, as catastrophes undergone in labor. That labor is steered and particularized through perception, yet its structural basis isn’t innately epistemological. Whereas Gesture as a molarity exists in the very interpretation or perception of material as anything other than the dense assemblage of a labor continuum elaborating itself temporally; labor allows the subject’s transversalityto overlap with its own gestural movement — perhaps a diffused production, or even amachinic unconscious.

The gesture of production is ultimately tied to the molecular movement of materials happening as labor that is becoming flexible, disruptive, or quiet to systems of signification; in short, the gesture of production is a-signifying. The manner in which those forces relate as epoché, or even as an expression of its quality beyond its production and force institutes a necessary communication as relational, pertinent, and responsive within systems of power.

So, the perception of gesture’s as a means of comprehension or apprehension of objects can be codified into molar multiplicity happening through continuous inter-subjective, studied iconography. Of course, as with most things, the phenomenological orientation can become codified into ideology, as the standard creative or productive status-quo takes on a distinctly phenomenological bent. The gesture, immutable as it is vague, gathers dust through attempts to equate movement to some kind of studied meaning — idiosyncratic and beautiful, raging as riff, as splatter, as virtuosity or subtle meditation, fluid as a contour line, defining staticitiy and futurity in equal measure.

The meaning of gesture is embodied in movement. The movement already exists, without utterance entirely, only becoming voiced or particular through its subjectification. So, the concretization of gesture, or the understanding of a phenomena as an owned, idiosyncratically public power dynamic places covalent materials, trans-ontological in their association and relation, in a vacuum that can render it to be representational to its actualsetting.

Phenomenology in itself isn’t the problem, and never has been. The discourse is essential asa framework for studying the subject as material, interacting with material; it demands the study of their interplay. Still, it’s often forgotten that the subject is located into a world that was already there, in machines producing illegible movement.

The gesture, as a phenomenology, at least Husserl’s variety, cannot be an actual material if it demands perceptibility; yet, its perception functions as the subject’s germ for criticality. To “re-achieve” a direct and primitive contact with the world, as their phenomenology demands, focuses on the constant ritual of our experience within frames of consciousness that interact to form a perception of space, a vague epistemology happening through the nominal. The goal is to metabolize and bracket noema into visceral truth. This is easily pragmatic, similar to Dewey’s aesthetics being the live creature’s prerogative, becoming known through utility and value as nearly synonymous with all noema.

The transcendental orientation attempts to know these objects within human consciousness through the experience of them — they become known, produced within and through mind via perception. Yet, this is, to use their term, a nominal frame of capable movement. The subject can know the object, of course, and can develop through it — that is the nature of the gesture’s labor. Yet, the illusory production of objects within mind is one tendency of theactuality of gesture; it contains all the quietized potentiality of the subject. This actuality is one happening machinically in the movement of immanent material, atemporal, always there. Apprehension is implicit.

The materials are ontologically similar, and epistemologically relational regarding the subject’s reflexive signification occurring through the apperception of other moments — a concept introduced in Reflexes’ A Flexible Anarchy as the “bio-moment.” The additive movement of these moments form flight happening through material, where consciousness is a transversal moment happening fluidly into and through real objects: produced objects, mineralic objects, microbial sets, history, or even the tendential representations of such objects. More so than just a subject’s studied consciousness — the structures, machines, and processes that systematize experience, frame mind, and shape labor, that being our materiality, contain the gesture to be located distinctly moving alongside, within, and through all materials surrounding and encompassing the bio-moment. Gesturing apprehends the syntax and expression of the labor continuum, the assemblage of transformational moments reformatting endlessly as ontology. One could say this very fact is phenomenology — and it is. It’s phenomenology’s suspension of material via perception that develops the breadth of readable code, a code that renders objects already produced or in production (through gesture) as forced to be known to be actual.

There isn’t necessarily tension between the intuitive/perceptual/sensory approach to gesture and seeing the gesture as an implicit aggregation of material. Rather than categorically different, their difference exists solely in the arrangement of multiplicity. The transcendent muliplicity involves relating the object again, transcendentally, back to the subject, a system of relation that will inevitably involve the signification of more fundamental codes. That is to say, although perception can locate objects within subjective consciousness, the sensation of materials and the phenomenological epoché that happens through the study of that perception end up concretizing subjecthood by virtue of the subject’s inherent self-signification and location. This is an abstraction of the inter-material of its moment. The phenomenological demand for rigorous science approaching action — embodied in space, happening actually — is only another assemblage of a labor structure taken on by the subject in order to approach objects.

This labor happens in relation to how it produces itself — an act of replication wherein the subject sees the world as moving within itself, a quietized labor that is fixed, affirmative, and self-signifying. The transcendental gesture, as an aggregated, extended product of quietized labor can exist as an infrastructural object of creativity; but, its study of itself, or description of itself by its own subjecthood, a cogito-esque process of affirmation regarding ontology or the apprehension of object, can only ever be described as quiet — without public performance or inter-communication, without acknowledgement of an a-signifying and unconscious aggregation of material movement. Such, its quietness is constantly deformed by and influential upon the entire social mode.

The transcendental gesture and its reflexive study become a solely quietized figure rendered within a subjective tendency related to internalized power dynamics; its misrepresentation by the public will occur through the historicization and representation of the gesture’s quietude. As a creative action, gesture is an extended performance of the continuum of labor; and, as such, it is also an extension of a reformattable, multiplicitous revolution of infra- and suprapersonal movement happening via the production of gesture. Simply put, it is surplus.

The performative gesture can very well develop into a language to preemptively approach material. However, the delayed addition of the language and iconography to gesture causes the phenomenon to exist as a post-performance of bio-moment, or a parallax replication of the moment when the subject’s accelerated position moved as and viamaterial, as it always does. The multiplicitous gesture is the potentiality for an object to perform itself ontologically, adapting through movement. This does not have to be relegated to perception — it can obtain value and further performativity inclusive of the public’s total perceptible movement, as well as any constructed (yet disintegrating) historical line that the objects traverse through flight.