Shifter 16: Pluripotential

Shifter Magazine 16 special issue on Pluripotential.
Edited by Sreshta Rit Premnath & Warren Neidich

 Éric Alliez
, Bernard Andrieu, 
Eric Anglès
, Kader Attia, 
Elena Bajo, 
Lindsay Benedict
, Nicholas Chase, 
Seth Cluett
, Zoe Crosher
, Krysten Cunningham, 
Yevgeniy Fiks
, Dan Levenson, 
Antje Majewski
, T. Kelly Mason, 
Michele Masucci
, Daniel Miller, 
Seth Nehil
, Warren Neidich, 
Susanne Neubauer, 
Hans Ulrich Obrist
, Chloe Piene, 
Sreshta Rit Premnath, 
Linda Quinlan, 
Patricia Reed
, Silva Reichwein, 
Barry Schwabsky, 
Gemma Sharpe, 
Amy Sillman
, Francesco Spampinato, 
Tyler Stallings, 
Laura Stein, 
Clarissa Tossin
, Brindalyn Webster
, Lee Welch
, Olav Westphalen
, James Yeary

Download Shifter 16 Pluripotential as PDF

We present scores, scripts, instructions, critical essays and more for Shifter’s 16th issue entitled “Pluripotential”.

Here we invoke a term, which describes the innate ability of stem-cells to differentiate into almost any cell in the body, to think through the possibility of criticality and cultural change through aesthetic strategies.

The skin that we are born with is transformed as a result of its life of touches, caresses and trauma and becomes flesh1. While on the one hand each of us experiences a unique set of circumstances, our common knowledge also shapes this flesh. Analogously, the brain becomes the mind through its history of experiences: A British child growing up in Tokyo speaks fluent Japanese, something her parents having arrived later in life to Japan may never be able to do. The brain is prepared for a multiplicity of cultural and linguistic conditions, within certain biological limits of malleability. Furthermore, as Agamben has noted, “the child […], is potential in the sense that [s]he must suffer an alteration (a becoming other) through learning.”2

These limits of malleability may fall within the paradigm of what Rancièere calls the distribution of the sensible: “the system of self-evident facts of sense perception, that simultaneously discloses the existence of something in common, and the delimitations that define the respective parts and positions within it.”3 Does art have the pluripotential ability to produce events in the cultural landscape, which in turn produce a redistribution of the sensible: a shift in public consciousness concerning how and what we see and feel, and furthermore a reconsideration of who constitutes the public “we.” Here the contradicting ideas of a homogeneous people, versus the singularities that produce differences within the multitude become relevant.
This play between structural constraints and a potential for continuous change is seen in forms such as scores, scripts and instructions; and strategies including “detournement” and remix, which hold within them the potential to be performed and reconstituted in multiple ways. It is therefore through these forms that we set out to explore “Pluripotential”.


  1. The Merleau-Ponty Reader, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Ted Toadvine, Leonard Lawlor, Northwestern University Press, 2007; Pg. 405
  2. Potentialities, Giorgio Agameben, Standford University Press, 1999; Pg. 179
  3. The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible, Jacques Rancière, Gabriel Rockhill, Continuum, 2006; Pg. 12