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Dominic Barnaby Adams

PhD Work

Audition, Autopromiscuity and Ontoprosthetics: The Expiation of Authority in Georges Bataille

The research examines claims of knowledge, truth and power in the work of Georges Bataille in respect to his ontological approaches, typically referred to as meditations.

Writers on Bataille have focussed on his transgression with little concern for the authority that this installs at the centre of his project.  However to reject authority is to submit thought to dialectical ligature.

The research explores beyond the figure of the absolute where only experience is transcendent, and yet the expression of empirical contact is paramount.

Apprehension beyond language as nonknowledge is the object of Bataille’s meditation. The paradigm of iterability places the grasping of knowledge and the technique of its grasping together as systematic form. This problematizes Bataille’s method of procedure in the sense that individuation is offered as mediation on unconscious formlessness. This gestures to the primary claim made by the thesis: that Bataille intentionally installs authority in the body of his project as an ontic supplement. Its form is contested through a praxis that is a complex of political, sensual and ontological separations. 

 Chapter One revises the authority of vision and language, and picks apart the sutures of instrumental reason that form its architecture. Without proceeding dialectically, the chapter argues for an extension of language into a profane world of its presence.

Chapter Two proposes that the subject can cohere without recourse to the authority of grounds. Then, dismissing the notion of extent, the argument suggests instead a supplementary synthesis of attunement based on an imported notion of granularity. This generative method slices contingent object altering its temporality, iteration and dimensionality, offering instead a thickening distribution of surface, a timbre of communication.

Chapter Three offers the claim that systemic finitude, closure or restriction can bring a resonant openness onto contingent and autonomous synthesis. An emergent non-knowledge is then no longer open to acquisition but demands response to its own interrogation; a basis for which occurs in current, rhythm, and non-performative performance.

Argument crystalizes around a conclusion that while Bataille’s progressions against authority have matured to a limitless subjective self, there nonetheless is an ontological discontinuity inserted within the body of experience that is both distinct and non-rational from it. This syncopate non-ratio is the privileged address method of expiation. 


  • PhD


    School of Arts & Humanities


    Arts & Humanities Research, 2015–2019

  • D. Barnaby Adams is a PhD candidate whose practice is research lead. It is driven by a core critical question that can be reduced to “If an imposition of individuation on an entropic state is an exercise of power and authority; how does consciousness of being understand and atone for this without resorting to the authority of imposition of form?” The research situates itself in and around the work of French writer Georges Bataille (1898–1962)

  • Degrees

  • BA Sonic Art, Middlesex University, Landsdown Centre for Electronic Arts, 2006; MA Aural and Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2008