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


  • Paulo de Assis Orpheus Institute Ghent



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


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.

Author Biography

Paulo de Assis, Orpheus Institute Ghent

Paulo de Assis studied piano, composition, musicology, and architecture. He authored two books (Luigi Nonos Wende, Wolke Verlag; and Domani l’Aurora, Olschki, Florence), and edited ten volumes, including Experimental Affinities in Music (Leuven University Press, 2015), and Virtual Works—Actual Things (LUP 2017, in print). Active both as a performer and researcher he is the Principal Investigator of the European Research Council project Experimentation versus Interpretation (, and chair of the International Conference on Deleuze and Artistic Research (


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How to Cite

de Assis, P. (2017). Gilbert Simondon’s ‘Transduction’ as Radical Immanence in Performance. Performance Philosophy, 3(3), 695–717.



The Concept of Immanence in Contemporary Philosophy and the Arts