I am currently working out some ideas in relation to Google Street View that I will be presenting at the Deleuze conference next week. I am exploring the concepts of the Molar, the Molecular, and the Line of Flight as they pertain to the user practices of Google Street View. In this case, the Molar would be considered uses as anticipated by Google, such as way-finding, real estate, etc. Molecular uses are innovative, but used to primarily augment an established molar line, such as using it to conduct street audits; or perhaps something along the lines of using GSV as a backdrop, like a video game. A Line of Flight becomes a creative act that surpasses- and advances- existing uses, and fundamentally alters how we might conceive of the use-value of GSV. For this paper, I am particularly interested in the artistic practices that have emerged as a result of this visual archive.
As I worked through the paper, it feels clear that conceptually, this is a helpful strategy, using these conceptual categories. It feels a bit murky though, somewhat arbitrarily assigning some to a molecular category, and others to a line of flight. I think it supports D & G in their statement that the molar and the molecular lines crisscross, and sometimes the shift is imperceptible. The relational aspect is key, and this is precisely where the murkiness begins (and which is where I get interested…). I think this is where the plane of immanence, the overall plane and our individual planes, really take shape. Some user practices may seem very commonplace to a certain segment of the population, and might seem completely innovative to others; those that either have never used GSV, or have only used it in small instances. One example might be the use of GSV to ‘travel the world’, which might seem novel to some, whereas in many instances it is becoming a common practice. The other aspect that has emerged from this exploration is that while artistic practices can be seen as lines of flight, within the plane of composition, there is an inevitable thickening that occurs. Functionary-artists appropriate or co-opt some of the more innovative practices, and merely become a riff or redundant creative act, one that mimics one particular artist’s thoughts, rather than thinking ‘like’ the innovative artist.
And then, of course, there is the attendant act of deterritorialization, as an initial experience of some act of the GSV interface. I think this is where I have some real questions. On the one had, it seems like an artistic practice- we’ll say ‘A Street with a View”- operates as a line of flight within the overall user practices, for it is a creative leap that alters our conception of the tool, as well as challenges conceptions about the nature of the archive. But as a material practice, it seems like the line of flight would be the moment of realization about the potential of the tool, and the material (or virtual, in this case) practice is the process by which we reterritorialize that moment and is subsequently made manifest in a recognizable output, subsumed or axiomatized in the broader plane of composition or even plane of immanence.
Of course, I will argue that it is both- and there is an inherent oscillation between the producer and the user, and that oscillation generates a supple plane. The run-offs that D & G describe create this suppleness, one that seems capable of enabling even more lines of flight. I guess the question inevitably becomes: when will all the lines of flight (that the fascist regime of Google happily encourages, only to co-opt that innovation) shift their plane of organization – a visual archive of the built environment- into a state of chaos, where the interventions and exceptions produce an uncertain patchwork, one that is no longer regarded as useful, or no longer even valued for its approximation?