Immateriality, Affectivity, Experimentation: Queer Science and Future-Psychology


This article will explore what it might mean to experiment with processes and practices which are aligned to the immaterial. Even a cursory genealogy of immateriality discloses the diverse and wide range of ways in which immaterial processes take form, sharing perhaps a concern with what can't be seen, what might be considered ephemeral, fleeting, imperceptible and sometimes not of this world. The focus on immateriality has taken up a minor role in relation to the considerable work on materiality and affectivity currently being developed across the arts and humanities. It haunts diverse perspectives, inviting us to attend to the problematic of subjectivity, and to consider how immaterial processes are performed, staged, enacted and rendered intelligible – even if such renderings are often consigned to areas tainted by their association with the anomalous, the psychopathological or the irrelevant. Hypnosis, telepathy, contagion, suggestion, imagination have all be aligned to immateriality in different ways, confounding distinctions between subject and object, past and present, human and non-human, and importantly the material and the immaterial. This article will explore some minor figures, past and present, across the arts and sciences who are taking a performative and post-human approach to what counts as immaterial within different experimental practices. The article will develop an approach to immateriality presented in my recent book, Immaterial Bodies: Affect, Embodiment, Mediation (2012, Sage), and extend this in the context of imaginative and inventive ways of working with voice-hearers, extending what it might mean to hear, see and listen through another’s voice using social media in unconventional ways. The forms of mediated perception that are staged allow for an engagement with what Bracha Ettinger has termed the matrixial, and open up to the distributed and machinic forms of perception which might allow the immaterial to take form. These practices will be situated within some minor psychological archives of experimentation, which reveal the possibility of a future-psychology-yet-to-come, the traces of which remain in psychology’s largely disavowed and displaced pasts

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