Habit, art, and the plasticity of the subject: the ontogenetic shock of the bioart encounter

Andrew C Lapworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper develops a vitalist conception of habit as a means to theorize the material capacity of art-encounters to reconfigure and reinvent the subject. Drawing principally on the innovative conceptualization of habit articulated in the philosophies of Félix Ravaisson and Gilles Deleuze, where it is theorized as a much more volatile and creative force of repetition that makes change possible, I first explore how habit pushes our contemporary understandings of the subject through an attentiveness to its ontogenetic emergence from material and affective processes and ecologies, as well as its plastic susceptibility to immanent disruption. Second, and through an engagement with the bioaesthetic and micropolitical thought of Deleuze and Guattari, I argue that it is precisely on the ontogenetic terrain of plastic habits that art-encounters might be understood to intervene. I unpack this empirically through an engagement with the bioartistic practices of the Tissue Culture and Art Project (TC&A), whose ‘semi-living’ installation art, I argue, stages a disruption of pernicious contemporary habits in favour of new and creative capacities for thinking, perceiving, and relating to the nonhuman.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-102
Number of pages18
Journalcultural geographies
Issue number1
Early online date25 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2015


  • habit
  • plasticity
  • subjectivity
  • Ravaisson
  • Deleuze
  • bioart

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