Machinic Assemblages of Publicness


This article discusses the concept of publicness through the lens of Deleuze and Guattari’s machinic thinking. Centring on the case of the Bearpit, a roundabout and public space in the city of Bristol (UK), I examine recent shifts and transformations in public culture and narrate the ways in which relatively small interventions facilitate new connections and organize public assemblages. The article makes four main contributions. First, it develops an approach to the study of publicness that highlights the interactions of machinic assemblages of material and immaterial component parts. Second, it suggests that specific forms of publicness are mediated by bright objects which stitch together and organize ecologies of connected machines. Third, it outlines publicness as a dynamic, plastic social form. Finally, it argues that the struggles for a compassionate public culture in the Bearpit are not necessarily set on a fixed trajectory toward co‐optation or a return to revanchism, but rather are part of an incessant process of unfolding and becoming public where the concerns and contestations of publicness are made visible.