Niamh McDonnell


Deleuze’s reading of Leibniz’s Monadology in The Fold opens a way to think philosophically about the implications of digital systems technology and their design: the modality of communication between monads and its ideal as a machinic operation allows consideration of binary coding and networks. The monad is a kind of machinic automaton. Its receptivity to sense is not a passivity, relative to an external datum against which the activity of rational thought of the subjective consciousness is the focal point of an ontology of essences. From the basis of this classical ontology, posing the finitude of being and the limitation of material substantiation in the body, the ideal of immateriality in information flow is necessarily in opposition to the matter of extension. The concept of the fold elucidated by Deleuze from the automaticity of the monad reconfigures the terms of operation of the machine according to input and output and the premise of binary coding as an analogy of this opposition.
The conception of monadic receptivity to sense is a minimal level of activity of continuous repetitions; an imitation of the outside on a microlevel of perceptions. The ideal of clear thought and rational knowledge is not a subjective representation of its object, but the expression of the world anew in which the monad is immersed. Thus it is by virtue of having a body, that embodied perceptions produce affects and constitute a new point of view of the world. This means that the power of the fold as a machinic operation is not about transcending the material limits of receptivity to sense but about the capacity for invention of new forms of expression of the world. It is also implicit in this thesis that the value of expression pertains to the degree of the extension of the relations between monads insofar as it concerns their coherence within a world. These factors inform the approach to architectonic design of digital systems to deal with the sustainability of networks with respect to the energetics of expression beyond entropy.


Niamh McDonnell, currently based in Ireland, is a 2008 PhD graduate of the history department at Goldsmiths University of London, where she completed a philosophy thesis on Deleuze's reading of Leibniz. She is currently co-editing and contributing to Deleuze and the Fold: a Critical Reader, by Palgrave Macmillan forthcoming in 2009. On residency at e+t+t in Riga, early in 2010, Niamh’s project will explore digital archiving and virtual museology, which continues her interest in plying philosophy to the consideration of epistemological, aesthetic and ethical questions pertaining to design in new technologies.