Marian Rupp

Figural Fabulation: Graphic Philosophy and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning

School of Art

Ecosophical Metamodeling, Gaia-graphy, Speculative Fabulation, Diffractive Patterning, Diagrammatic Writing....
Efforts of the last two decades seek to counter traditional narratives with alternative modes of expression amidst the complex conglomerate of technological innovation, social change, and planetary crisis. They are concerned with the urgency of renewed representational methodologies that can responsibly figure the specific material-semiotic heterogeneities of a shared cosmos. To this end, they open themselves up to transmedial and transdisciplinary experiments that on the one hand lead to a kind of indistinguishability between science, art, politics, theory, design, etc., and on the other hand are intended to resingularize a possible reinvention of these modes, or livable modes of existence.

These are semi-theoretical practices from New Materialism, Science and Technology Studies, actor-network theory, and the vicinity of Deleuze and Guattari. These combine geopolitical questions with the question of representation. In doing so, they are particularly attentive to how they themselves represent representations. Haraway writes that it makes a difference which figures figure figures: "It matters which matter matters matter.“ Among other things, this means that any presentation (including that of theory) always harbors an ideological visualization practice that conveys a particular worldview that can include, but also exclude, perspectives as well as actors. It means that by drawing lines, arranging words, and distributing surfaces, we simultaneously make divisions of communal space.

Using Lyotard's notion of the figural to instigate a critique of the homogeneous space of the siginificant or the figurative, a space of heterogeneous assemblages can be unfolded that takes us from a mere focus on working on the text into a moving texture. Lyotard has pointed out that if the event of meaning and sense is never produced by language alone, theory must methodically relate to its concrete representation. This behaving toward the (not merely reflexive and sometimes accidental) event of its own entangled materialization can be captured in the notion of fabulation. Henri Bergson initiated this in order to think an eventful becoming-other of social collectives. Gilles Deleuze had taken up the term in several writings, transforming it around a political-aesthetic function. Most recently, Haraway re-actualized it as 'speculative fabulation' and extended it to a responsive becoming-together. This is about creating eventful patterns of interference, textures from and with textures that deal with their own constructedness. In the same way, Karen Barad proposes the methodological figure of 'Diffraction Patterning', which she contrasts with the classical model of reflection.

Through the prism of the two terms figural and fabulation, the dissertation aims to 1. make recent concrete attempts of responsible material-discursive representation in theory, which as such have received little attention, further connectable through transversal links 2. against a bifurcation into form and content, design and text within theory that persists despite a general recognition of the powers of representation, sensitize to a thoughtful approach to one's own materializing practice 3. respond to the urgency of new narratives in entangled times.


  • Prof. Dr. Marc Ries