Nanopoetics of Use: Kinetic prefiguration and dispossessed sociality in the undercommons

Giovanni Marmont

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis reflects on the development of a practice of sociality that takes the realm of use as a rich terrain of political experimentation. The point of departure for this undertaking is a critique of what has been named “possessive individualism”: a seemingly innocent force of social fragmentation, fostered by liberal thought and complexified by neoliberal rationality, whereby each subject is called to see itself and act as the independent proprietor of its life. This is a tendency that affects us not only discursively but also materially, by establishing individualising regimes of perception and motion, essentially reconstructing relational bonds and mutual dependencies as a supplemental dimension to an otherwise private existence. In order to contest and momentarily defy the many interpellations that compel us to feel and act as “one” – as self-possessed individuals – this research thus seeks to both rethink and concretely re-enact use as an affective practice: that is to say, in terms of a primal, generative, corporal entanglement with the world, rather than the effect of sovereign intentionality. To this end, conceptual elaboration, the making of a kinetic machine, and its collective use during a choreographed activity jointly contribute to the exploration of bodily vulnerability and reciprocal interference. This type of practice, it will be argued, could be understood as one expression of what Stefano Harney and Fred Moten have called “study”: the cultivation of a mutual indebtedness that circulates beneath and beyond the institutionalised surface of communal life, in the undercommons. By designing material constraints that could magnify instances of simultaneous moving and being moved, sensing and being sensed, this intervention aims to prefigure a mode of collectivity that hinges on the consensual, poetic, mutual dispossession of use.
Original languageEnglish
  • Taylor, Damon, Supervisor
  • Chapman, Jonathan, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Use
  • Undercommons
  • Affect
  • Nanopoetics
  • Prefiguration


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