Peripheral Choragraphy


“Untangling the lines of an apparatus means, in each case, preparing a map, a cartography”

~Deleuze, “What is a Dispostif?” (338)


This “topic” being one I'm not supposed to speak about, ThinkFeel about, publicly. One admittedly I might not be capable to witness or compose testimony, yet. But with the resources of the digital network & personal databases, and the thinking-feeling supported in Electracy—perhaps enabled by first composing a Dètourned Choral-Map...


Revisiting from 2014 my first pass at a “Choral map,” incomplete, called by encountering the CU Denim Days display: this oblique approach is encouraged manifestly by recalling the classroom memory now, motivated palpably by seeing how territorialized were the space, role, capacity, and affect. Discussing Foucault’s philosophy as an “analysis of concrete ‘dispositifs’ or apparatuses” (338), the “lines” that Deleuze references in the epigraph include visibility, utterance, force, and subjectivation within a particular dispositif (conditions of possibility, regime). Useful here is the question implicit in Deleuze’s remarking, “In each apparatus, the lines cross thresholds that make them either aesthetic, scientific, political, etc.” (339). First, the task of recognizing thresholds; then asking, how (under what conditions) might utterances become aesthetic, visibility scientific, subjectification political (etc. / et al). The cartography of ostensible Public Space must include these thresholds, which are as much affective individually and not readily signified (techno-social protocols), as I discover touring the scene for points of intensity now.

Norlin Quad - Cognitive Map (Sketch)

The 2014 sketch begins with “cognitive mapping” of the situatedness, Territorialized, of the encounters on campus: Denim Days display (Norlin Quad), my New Media & Civic Engagement class (Eaton Humanities Building). The orienting moment begins toward choral meditation on/of sexual assault on campus; a tour of “the premises”—the grounds and the logical premise—for an investigation (interrogation). toward testimony and possible commemoration-consultation. A brief survey (topological) identifies the various lines of interpellation and the contours to follow: beginning with “Norlin Quadrangle,” the contour-space “Named to honor CU President George Norlin, and designated a National Historic District.” Touring “counterclockwise” facing the library (arbitrarily “twelve o’clock,” as noon/midnight):

  • Norlin Library
    • inscription: “Enter here the timeless fellowship of the human spirit.”
  • Eaton Humanities Building (in which my class meets)
    • connected: Woodbury Arts & Sciences, “College of Arts and Sciences offices and Advising Center”
  • “Old Main” (first/oldest building, 1876)
    • “Old Main houses the College of Arts and Sciences administration and deans’ offces, as well as the CU Heritage Center, the campus history museum, which is located on the third floor.”
  • University Theatre
    • “And the Charlotte York Irey Studios. Performance center and offices for CU Theatre and Dance”
  • Ekeley Sciences
    • “Classroom and research complex for the sciences”
  • “full circle” return to Norlin Library
    • No building stands opposite across “the quad”; the lawn for recreation & rest/relaxation.
    • At this vantage: “the Flatirons” to the southwest

As these grounds markedly signify functions in Official Discourse, a choræmblem is not yet found. Yet, useful is identifying the Territory of the Problem and the sites of encounters to investigate for material potentially intensified. The Denim Days display located on Norlin Quad lawn: space unoccupied, often open for unscripted use, and ostensibly non-signifying yet placed deliberately (I was told). The Eaton Humanities Building, with its proximity to Norlin Library, announces affinity with my disciplinary grounding and approach (Philosophy-History-Arts thinking); notable for the particular Rhetoric & Writing class is “New Media” (technē) & “Civic Engagement” (socius).

As Electronic Monuments instructs, an Humanities orientation—critical thinking alternative to Instrumental Reason—might be applied as consultation, if not “brought to bear upon” the Public Policy Problem.

Local and temporal marker:
“CU­-Boulder vows to exceed White House recommendations on sexual violence”
Daily Camera | 04/29/2014 09:42:49 PM MDT

Witnessed (voluntary):

“CU is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights over its handling of a reported sexual assault, in which the alleged assailant was suspended eight months from school, fined $75 and forced to write a paper reflecting on the incident.
He was never charged with a crime.”

Touring the premises, a detour-survey expands the campus map to consider its periphery. Here we find notable, quasi-official locations “The Hill” (social: bars; entertainment: live music) and “The Rec” (exercise center). Roughly aligned on a diagonal Z-axis, across campus, this line is intersected by Broadway (angled Y-Axis). Along the contours of this periphery, two pedestrian underpass paths under Broadway: a threshold, crossing between Campus and Social Space. Also along Broadway, a similar bypass of walkway and bike lane (Stay in Your Lane!), which I often used biking; the boundary space seemingly Both and Not Campus and Public territory (liminal).

Network Witness:

‘That’s college’: How my sexual assault was normalized by my community”
Posted on 09 Apr 2014 @ CUIndependent

Hashtag: “That’s College”?
091616 Unlawful sexual contact incident occurred near pedestrian underpass

Tweet @ Campus Safety webpage: missing (?)



Detour from the scripted path of the bike lane and the protocols for legibility: a transversal line with endpoints at the fun (bars) of The Hill and the work (exercise) of The Rec? For now, at least distinguishing a Z-axis (attraction-repulsion) with affinity for both. The investigation will not be reductive/exclusive, after all. As Deleuze delineates, a dispositif variously encompasses “lines of cracking, breaking and ruptures that all intertwine and mix together [,] where some augment the others through variations and even mutations of the assemblage” (342). Retracing the choral map’s contours to engage an assemblage, I explore what can be thought, and mediated, via a peripheral and circuitous route.

Revisiting the locations of the 2014 Denim Days displays, the “Public (Policy) Problem” is re-situated. In addition to the display I encountered, an additional installation appeared at The Hazel Gates Woodruff Cottage for Women’s Studies. At the edge of campus next to Broadway (peripheral location), the building was named for Hazel Gates (1912-1994): “born in Denver[, she] spent her childhood at her family home nestled among the pine and aspen trees outside Evergreen, CO.” A significant addition to the Choral Map, found at the margins.
            Material link: Pine trees, Evergreen // pine needles in Stanford Sexual Assault Case

Following this historical line, reconsidering the orienting location (“You Are Here”) of the campus cognitive map: the Eaton Humanities Building is named such following a donation by Woody and Leslie Eaton. Besides their scholarship opportunity, which requires applicants to demonstrate “leadership through student or community activities and show academic promise” (Popcycle spheres relevant here), an intriguing “interdisciplinarity” is personified: medicine (Woody’s dentistry, Leslie’s work Boulder Community Hospital ); music (Leslie’s fundraising for the Colorado Music Festival); also, “one of the Eaton’s three sons, Jordon, also graduated from CU in 1997, in kinesiology.” Linking explicitly Humanities and Kinesiology: although unsure how to “interpret” (do not signify), crucial is this reminder for including in my choragraphic method—as I have been walking to tour the premises and détour(n) the Problem (as I explain in the segment Obscenario), while neglecting the “physiological, biomechanical, and psychological mechanisms of movement” (κίνησις kinesis).



Détourn to the site, review the scene: 23-Apr 2014, Denim Days installation, student's expressed outrage (protocological response), my lack of ethical-affective response (abstracted by institutional role). A year later, in the same classroom asking “what stops us from making this room a gallery? performance space?” akin to the Public Space of the Quad, where any art performance can cross thresholds between real gesture and artifice. Needing to engage the Problem further than detached mediated witness. I (can) conceptualize; yet, I still feel little; while compelled, attracted and repulsed, I am (Re)territorialized by institutional and social space and role, possible responses scripted.

Needing an image to think (with) the Problem; avatar, emblem, emblematic gesture.

  • Perhaps denim? Bookmark material properties, cautious of ubiquity and hypersignifcation.
  • Mattress? Semiotic regime (over-coded)

Hashtag: “That’s College”
Emma Sulkowicz (NYU Student): Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight)

  • The denim display hung from a clothesline. Also domestic, but less intimate. (emblematic status?)
  • Clothesline as Tightrope?
  • Occasionally students string up rope in same spot, on which to stand/balance ("slackline")
  • cultural register: Bright Eyes - "From a Balance Beam" (lyrics/imagery).
    • conduction (present time): 2016 US Olympians - Women’s Gymnastics Team
      • 5 Gold Medal Winners...

The Olympic Gymnast stars link several registers of the choral map, as well as my position of mediated witness: first, the corporeality of athleticism in their excellence, putting into relief how we might train to use the Body (as Image). As in the Performance Art project “(Carry That Weight),” Sulkowicz’s carrying around campus a 50-pound mattress highlights thresholds indiscernible, in Everyday routine. Whether as Athlete, Artist, Role-Persona, or un-scripted, any Tightrope walk witnessed calls forth testimony; however, few lessons can be drawn here, not yet gathered into circuit for network ethology. Reviewing the MEmorial as abject genre, the Olympians remind an important dimension in terms of Collective Identity. The sacrifice of the “unremarkable” (everyday) disaster links to and expresses a collective value, intimated by the eMorial monument. A collective commemoration will not be direct nor explicit, as an Olympic Medal, especially for networked testimonial of events unremarkable (everyday + ineffable).

Détour(n) this line of direct thinking, for peripheral route.


[04-23-2015, Eaton Humanities basement wall (flyers)]



The task and challenge is clear considering the status of utterance regimes by certain subjects, about which particular topics are ineffable (while still eff-able, i.e. fuck-able?). Networked media would seem to counter or limit strategies of oblique or elliptical intimation, most especially as platforms for articulation and visibility (regimes of utterance and documentation). Considering highly familiar interface prompts:


In contrast to Facebook’s direct "What's on your mind?" and “Write something,” Twitter casually asks “what's happening?” Indeed, we might look aside from the iconic animation of many disciplines, the blank blinking cursor, particularly for a revised role-function (network witness). As theorized by Jordan Crandall, Mark B. N. Hansen discusses in Feed-Forward (2015) the “correlations between media technicity and experience”:

What accounts for the singularity of contemporary media is not simply that their data­driven operations bypass the scope of consciousness, but that they impact experience on a much broader basis than through consciousness. They literally seep into the texture of experience, forming a background, a peripheral “calculative ambience” that indirectly flavors any and all resulting events or phenomena” (186, original emphasis, my bold)

Considering the Visual-Information Regime of networked media—their (our) contemporary tyranny of documentation, representation, quantification, denotation, reference—concerning ineffable experience: the question how to witness, to register (respond) in database form, might be better undertaken in peripheral route (ambient).


Relay? Twitter’s What’s happening?” (ambient)
Vice President Joe Biden campus visit,
campaign slogan “It's on US.”


Disciplinary thinking (Media Theory) here has seemingly detoured too far from the networked public sphere, concerning the potential role-function of affective digital witness. Returning to the encounter scene to re-investigate perhaps locates alternative routes for circuitry (scenic route, tourist attractions up ahead). For instance, in their détournement of denim, with explicit words and messages, the Denim Days display creators repurposed ordinary hyperprevalent material into political-aesthetic public expression. For the mediated witness bystanding (not witness to the Event), was the material aestheticized? Anesthetized? Neither political nor aesthetic? The protocols of documentation for standing-by witness, technical and social, seemed to be “post image online” (Tweet) sharing in mediated and immediate public space. For the Critical Art Ensemble, however:

“Public space does not exist except as a reification. All art, critical or otherwise, once in the social realm, exists only in managed, socially stratified space.
Public art does not exist as there is not public space.” (Electronic Civil Disobedience 40)

By extension, the implications for the networked “public” sphere (Technocracy), with its protocols and Filter Bubbles, mean reevaluating strategies to commemorate and circulate experience ineffable; likewise the witness-testimony of “unremarkable” moments (by/for whom?) in the Datastream. More concretely, the reified-stratified Feed (Techno-Social-Algorithmic) calls into question the potential for civic engagement in everyday “small exchanges,” as Joannah Portman-Daley (2013) recognizes in “The affinity spaces of social media-based public pedagogy” (“Subtle Democracy” n.p).

The choral map surveyed serves as a resource to draw upon “going forward,” particularly in peripheral fashion to détour(n) mediated witnessing. Add to disciplinary quadrangle—Humanities, Arts, Sciences, administration, performance—the kinesiology of transversal line, the physical modification (exercise) at The Rec along with the Entertainment (music) and alcohol (Community?) of The Hill. The coincidental Z-axis is fortuitous, reminding also to déConsult with sensibility (the senses) using attraction-repulsion to supplement disciplinary thinking. Stringing between the rectangular posts of the Institutional Quad the “slackline” Tightrope, the choral map contrasts the Territorialized space that prohibits a Clothesline for “dirty laundry” (ineffable), sweat-soaked after the gym or the bar/club or running/biking the path (threshold). Even though one day (akin tactical media?), the Denim Display must remain in memory for its “dirty laundry” use of the Clothesline in quasi-Public Space; moreover, this line forces reconsideration of my role and function in terms of attraction-repulsion. In one sense, the student’s “repulsed” reaction to the explicit public display was expressed as distaste during class, without any rebuke or even simply an invested consideration by Instructor of the varied protocols for responding to sexual assault declarations (utterance regime). Returning to the moment prior to this Institutional Capacity, between thresholds Personal and Professional (linked via class hashtag), I re-Tweeted a photo of the display outside Eaton Humanities. Besides adding to the Image Feed created by the CU Denim Days account (public conversation?), the Tweet’s “Analytics View” adds via punctum an obtuse/third meaning through the 609 network “Impressions.” This number being my hometown area code (609) brings New Jersey and Autobiography into the choragraphic rewriting. Juxtaposing the immutable topography of the Rocky Mountains (“foothills”), the hometown Barrier Island a evokes an existential grounding (ephemeral) and opens a new series: ocean, coast, barrier island, erosion, corrosion, jetty, sand, tides, moon, currents, flooding. Contrast the man-made shoreline jetty (historically increases erosion at our beach) with the natural boulder (site: Boulder). Installing a Spiral Jetty online impossible, with the properties of the Great Salt Lake hardly present in Memesphere conditions. Add a rock in the current (South-North flow, Atlantic Ocean, Ocean City); standing in midst of flow (Datastream, InfoFeed) for Pine Needles to stick, found at the periphery.

Concluding this section in order to detour (from) this choral map, added by the Autobiography database is the evocative dimension of Erosion (of capacity? of memory?) due to time and speed (dromosphere). Likewise, the transposed Salt Air (atmospheric) links to the choral map’s transversal line (Z-axis)—liquids here being alcohol, sweat, pool—as Saturation, versus Filter-Bubble insulation (Stay in Your Lane). In other words, turning attention to ambient conditions as articulated by Twitter’s “What’s happening?” and Biden’s “It’s on US”: like the perpetual present-tense of “What’s” and “It’s” here, for Anyone, the Network Witness is saturated by the situated event (“on,” “happening”) of experience (transposed to AV-image, quantified as data). Extending the peripheral détour online evokes the notion of “hospitable networks” that James J. Brown, Jr. theorizes in Ethical Programs: Hospitality and the Rhetorics of Software (2015). Discussing Galloway and Thacker’s concept of “the exploit” (to which I regrettably can not dedicate further attention here), Brown articulates an overlooked feature of “programmed” digital spaces:

Rather than clearly defining host and guest or locating power as a discrete thing that is exchanged between parties, the exploit becomes a rhetorical and political tactic for understanding and manipulating networked spaces. The exploit begins from the assumptions that thresholds are not clear and that the porousness of boundaries offer up the possibility of exploring multiple solutions or answers. (Ethical Programs Chapter 3)

Somewhat poetically, the app PeerBlock prompts whether to “Allow HTTP” to view my course site as I am writing this, a reminder of vulnerability and insulation both automatic and deliberate. Keeping in mind this “porousness,” I proceed my detour attuned to thresholds and attentive to potential exploits (“bug, glitch, vulnerability”). Extending by analogy, the bypassing bike lanes of public space, liminal on my choral map, instruct my using the FilterBubble effect of Feeds in the Networked Public Sphere as bystander not exposed or vulnerable. Instead, the permeable (Pour-ousness?) data-embodiment experienced in Electracy détour(n)s exposure as ThinkingFeeling (critical-aesthetic), a detour of Network Ethology ethically responsive to ambient affects.