Gilbert Simondon’s ‘Transduction’ as Radical Immanence in Performance

Paulo de Assis


Transduction is Gilbert Simondon’s key concept for understanding processes of differentiation and of individuation in a number of fields, including scientific disciplines, social and human sciences, technological devices, and artistic domains. Originating from the sciences and crucially developed in its philosophical implications by Simondon, transduction refers to a dynamic operation by which energy is actualized, moving from one state to the next, in a process that individuates new materialities. This chapter appropriates this concept for musical practice, aiming at establishing a foundational conceptual layer for a broader research effort that crucially includes artistic practice—both composition and performance—as its starting and end points. After an introductory depiction of what transduction might mean for a music performer, this paper focuses on the presentation of different definitions of transduction, mainly stemming from Simondon himself, but including two further extensions: one to Deleuze’s concept of haecceity (and via Deleuze, to my own micro-haecceity), the other to Brian Massumi’s notion of corporeality. Keeping in mind the potential of these definitions for the making of music, this essay explores eight different, yet complementary ways of thinking transduction, which are presented in a growing scale of complexity from the incandescent light bulb (3.1.) to the intricacies of decision-making in living organisms (3.8.), passing by the question of time and temporality (3.2.), thermodynamics (3.3.), information theory (3.4.), a redesigned theory of haecceities (3.5.), Riemannian topology (3.6.), and corporeality (3.7.). All these topics are presented here in short, as opening gates to wider fields of inquiry, suggesting future avenues of research, rather than claiming to offer finished thought.


immanence; Deleuze; Simondon; philosophy of music; transduction; corporeality; haecceity

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