A theoretical animal is an artwork without a defined visual outcome. Similar to Deleuze/Guattari’s assumption that a diagram has neither substance nor form, neither content nor expression (1), the nature of the theoretical animal as an artwork is not an object of art, but, rather like a diagram, ties together a multitude of relations.

The construction of the term „theoretical animal“ indicates the character of these relations. It consists of:

1. the etymological roots of “theory“ - Θεωρια (contemplation, observation). Thereby, the theoretical animal is one who observes rather than reasons — without being an object; it becomes a gaze without an eye (Blick ohne Auge).

2. a proposal to appropriate the term “animal“ which rather than being considered as a pre- or sub-human condition, should be perceived as a diagrammatic tool, operating with the simultaneity of state and movement.  An example of the potential of this “tool“

is conveyed by Gertrude Stein in a depiction of a little dog: “Any little dog […] wants to turn away, and he wants to be there with you. […] he can do the two things at once but the human mind oh the human mind can not do the two things at once.“ (2)  Another definition of a diagram as one "non-encore-pensé“ (3), which suggests an orientation/ organization in space through intuition. 


Therefore a theoretical animal could be considered at the same time as a space, a texture, and a movement. As a space organizing incongruent states and conditions it is a diagrammatic one. As a texture, it is woven together by lines of intuitive observation (without reason nor judgment).  As a movement within and into a language(—space) it is a predicate rather than a subject and is as "unpredictable“ as a "language—game“ (4).


Besides the development of the concept of the theoretical animal, further research questions on this topic are:

 - What is the reality-potential of the theoretical animal?

-  Does this reality emerge only within the unique moment of observation?

-  How is the theoretical animal related to language and could it be considered as a concept for language art?




1. Gertrude Stein: The Geographical History of America. In: Writings 1932-1946. New York: The Library of America 1998, p.369

2. ‘Un diagramme en effet n’a pas de substance ni de forme, et pas de contenue ni d’expression.‘ In: Gilles Deuleuze & Félix Guattari: Mille plateaux. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit 1980, p.176

3. Bénédicte Letellier: Saisir la pensée diagrammatique, lectures plurielles. In: Acta fabula 2 (Vol. 6) 2005

4. Wittgenstein, Ludwig: On Certainty. In: Marcus Steinweg: Wittgenstein‘s Animal. In: Inaestetics 2 Animality. Berlin: Merve Verlag 2011