Thinking by images
TRANSCULTURAL THEORY AS A MULTIMODAL WORK OF ART
The passage from the world of cultures to the transcultural stage must be considered as an emergence of a new level of complexity. New tools, beyond the linear order of narration and argumentation, must thus be employed. Space, more space! is the motto of the day.
Evidently, there exists a tradition of searching for non-linear and non-discursive modalities of theory building in the postmodern heritage. Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari employed visual means to enlarge their possibilities of expression beyond the limitations of linear argumentation. Also more recently, visual tools of reflection are often used, even if they remain implicit and the textual modality of expression remains dominant. Topological thinking can be traced not only in Sloterdijk's spheres, but also in many moments of Slavoj Zizek, and others.
My own visual projects inscribe themselves in this field of research, without remaining in the circle of inspiration established by the first post-modernism. At a posterior stage, the works of Felix Guattari produced in the 1980s offer important coordinates for my reflection. On the other hand, my personal touch in this domain consists in exploring the criss-crossing heritage of world cultures, each of them taken in its idiosyncratic form of channeling transcultural aspiration. Diagrammatic or pictographic modalities create not only a natural bridge between cultures, but also open a new space of transcultural potentiality, associating form and meaning in open, non-exclusive, overlapping ways and at the same time searching for pure patterns and relations beneath culturally defined, accidental qualities.
My project of building visual theory is not that of going on illustrating texts with sketches or drawings. Rather on the contrary, visual generation and disposition of ideas (inventio and dispositio) precedes the text. Theory may thus exist independently of a text, as an intelligible and visually translatable formula (similar to those used in maths and sciences), as a conceptual work of art and finally, as a multimodal deployment involving text merely as one of its constituents.