Surface-Machines. Spatio-temporal politics at the recording surface of Bulgarian post-communism

Genova, Neda. 2020. Surface-Machines. Spatio-temporal politics at the recording surface of Bulgarian post-communism. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

How can we understand the meaning and effects of recent modifications of material surfaces of public sites in Bulgaria? The series of interventions at the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia and the transformations of a crowd-control fence installed in front of the Parliament building during the 2013-2014 anti-government protests offer the points of departure for this thesis. Their complex processes of both alignment with the dominant traits of the post-1989 regime in the country but also destabilisation of and challenges to its logic, complicate the possibility of a simple opposition between conformity and subversion.

The analysis of the operations of these surfaces and the ways, in which they enter into relations with environments and other surfaces, necessitates the development of a conceptual framework capable of accounting for their dynamism and processual character. The notion of a “surface-machine” proposed here explicates the produced and productive character of surfaces, while challenging their reduction to the visual plane or their assignment to a subsidiary role in relation to what as surfaces, they are said to “contain”. By developing a theoretical understanding of surface-machines, this thesis seeks to propose a novel way of thinking surfaces and their spatio-temporal productivity, while taking them seriously as a terrain of political articulation.

The examination of two surface-machines – of the crowd-control fence and the Monument – goes hand in hand with the investigation of the social context within which they are situated: that of Bulgarian post-communism. The thesis explores various features of this condition, such as a logic of belatedness, an adoption of anti-communist and pro-European discourses, and examines how these contribute to the solidification of a “recording surface” – a term derived from the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to describe the constitution of a social surface that obfuscates its own conditions of production. Conceptually, the dissertation is indebted to the work of these two authors, while drawing on Donna Haraway’s writings to develop a method of storytelling to account for the material-semiotic operations of surface-machines.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Surfaces, surface-machines, post-communism, Bulgaria, Sofia, Deleuze and Guattari, time, politics, recording surface

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


31 May 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

11 Jun 2020 13:51

Last Modified:

31 May 2023 01:26


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