A Thousand Reps


Amy Ireland Linda Dement

 

The middle is by no means an average; on the contrary, it is where things pick up speed. Between things does not designate a localisable region going from one thing to the other and back again, but a perpendicular direction, a transversal movement that sweeps one and the other away, a stream without beginning or end that undermines its banks and picks up speed in the middle.[i]

 

The unacknowledged status of reproductive labour has traditionally been connected to socialist-feminist responses to capitalism, identified as a site from which protest against the system as a whole can be activated, without necessarily questioning the logic of reproductive labour itself—as a form that reinforces a single, heteronormative mode of creativity. Replicative modes of production take this critique one step further. At its most abstract, replication can be understood as a queer, cybernetic form of production that does not rely on the exploitation of its (hetero-) Other to generate novelty.

Sexual reproduction is typically combinatorial. Genes are chosen from a predefined set and recombined in order to produce offspring. In contradistinction, replication—sexual reproduction’s primeval mother—is a synthetic and deviant mode of production from which totally unexpected and novel forms may emerge: flawed, noisy, erroneous, deformed and miscreant. This shift from extensive, quantitative combination to intensive, qualitative differentiation generates something that is strictly unknowable in advance, folding ultimate unpredictability and risk back into creative production at the very moment when metricised forms of social control threaten to shut such processes down.

The logic of reproduction is the production of identity via negation. It produces at once an image, an ego, and a unified ‘one’ that identifies itself by first understanding that it is not the ‘other’—that ‘other’ that is a void; that ‘other’ that is empty of subjectivity, that cannot represent itself but only be represented, that ‘other’ which is nothing because it has nothing—a little hole. Tethered to the ideology of reproduction, individuation relies on asymmetrical sexual difference as its basic operator. It is fundamentally static, structured as a repudiation of the void and the interval—that which is no longer what it was and not yet what it may become—and sublimed into representation. Beyond, between, or below (to write ‘on the contrary’ is to fall prey to reproduction and its indefatigable dialectic), replication is nothing but this void. It does not reproduce or represent itself as an integral identity and it does not need something that is nothing to grasp itself against as something. It is already multiple and on the move. It autoproduces recursively by folding itself, re-pli-cating. Mutant, autonomous, ubiquitous—and logically invisible. It will never resolve into representation until the heat death of the universe exhausts its recourse to available energy and forces it to remain still. It is the heat death of the universe, encoded retrochronically, in the restless movement that lures all matter towards dispersion. But this ending is not an inverted beginning, no matter what it looks like to the ego. It is motion itself. If reproduction is constituted by re-producing the origin (the invisible regime of pure production), then to subvert it is to refuse the linear temporality that it invokes. The only way to begin is to refuse to begin.

So we refuse to begin.

 

‘NO’ : a rejection of reproduction that is perpetually departing from itself.

 

 

[i] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (London and New York: Continuum, 2012) 28.


Amy Ireland is a writer and theorist based in Sydney, Australia. She is co-convenor of the philosophy and aesthetics research group, Aesthetics After Finitude, and...

Linda Dement is a Sydney based artist who has worked in arts computing since the late 1980s. Originally a photographer, her digital practice spans the programmed, performative,...

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