Exploring Meaning in Absence

Engaging with Artistic Memoir requires readers to step outside of traditional forms of arts-based research which utilizes art as representations of data, and move towards a reconfiguration of art work as an exposure of meaning that is yet to be named (Springgay, 2008). The images, poems and stories within this memoir are intended to stand without reliance on a caption or explanation of meaning. To apply a name or descriptive account of visual/textual nuances would be to funnel all possibilities for diverse readings into a singular truth – a reproduction of the author’s localized knowledge onto the reader. Rendering with an a/r/tographical orientation to arts-based educational research, the seemingly illusive presentation of Artistic Memoir is intended to open spaces for multiple and complex readings, “allow[ing] meaning to emerge from what is absent, tacit, literalized, and forgotten than from what is present, explicit, figurative and conscious” (Springgay, 2008, p. 8). With this said, the processual body of Artistic Memoir is rooted in what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as the rhizome.  

“A rhizome is an assemblage that moves and flows in dynamic momentum. It is an immanent force, creating multiplicities that do not rely on hierarchical categories. A rhizome has no root-origin; it spreads out, becoming, an asignifying rupture… It operates by variation, perverse mutation, and flows of intensities that penetrate the systems of classification, putting them to strange new uses. It creates the unfamiliar.”

–      Springgay, 2008

Entangled in its web, pieces of the memoir are weaved in and among each other in a performance where artistic elements play off one another in ways which realign systems of thought. Its process employs abstract images and poetry as materializations of affectual becomings and language to trace the sensationality of their relations. This work does not seek the portrayal of a subject, but moreso a decentering of its position and exploration of its contours. In this way, writing and art operate simultaneously in an engaged act of inquiry (Springgay, 2008). These layers of memoir bounce with affectual vibrations that dribble across each other with varying tempos, all while “spilling past even the most steadfast of disciplinary boundaries” (Gregg & Seigworth, 2010, p. 4).


The universe is a child

with small and playful hands

pulling on the strings of fireflies

curious in their glow

Bouncing and reverberating – they spring in every direction

connected with the elasticity of a rubber band

stretched apart, and whipped together

they collide

A burst of light

Combustion, a million tiny stars

dancing in every direction

pulled apart and back again

with no control of their own

The universe is a child

sending spirals in the night

around the world and back again

they spin with electric light

fireflies as puppets

lighting shaded corners

those ought to be left dark

Sparks fly up in blackened skies

Like shimmering shards of glass

They cut across in dizzy paths

And settle with the dust of night


“Lodge yourself on a stratum,

experiment with the opportunities it offers,

find an advantageous place on it,

find potential movement of deterritorialization,

possible lines of flight,

experience them,

produce flow conjunctions here and there,

try out continuums of intensities segment by segment,

have a small plot of new land at all times…

Gently tip the assemblage,

making it pass over to the side of the plane of consistency…

[A] connection of desires, conjunction of flows, continuum of intensities.

You have constructed your own little abstract machine.”

–     Deleuze and Guattari, 1987


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