I am reading this text on Deleuze and abstraction by Brent Adkins as part of trying to understand how different people conceptualize abstraction. This is normally seen in terms of a removal, a paring away, a purification. It is an abstraction from something.
Deleuze has an idiosyncratic view of the abstract, which compared to that of Clement Greenberg or Peter Wolin or Hegel. Whereas Hegel (and people generally) think of the abstract in opposition to the concrete, Deleuze thinks of the abstract in opposition to the discrete. Even though Delewuze views abstract art as being abstract because it produces sensations sensation not representations. Sensations are defined as percepts (new ways of seeing or construing ) and affects (new ways of feeling).
Affects are associated with intensity (or the tendency towards change) and not extensivity (or the movement towards stasis). Abstract is one of the ways that Deleuze thinks through intensity. For Deleuze the abstract is true lived experience. Abstract lived experience is linked to the tendency toward change (the concrete) as opposed to the tendency toward stasis (the discrete).
In the art institution the new is structured in terms of a linear progress as a before and after. The temporal schema is a before abstraction and an after with the before--realism--- seen as negative and modernist abstraction seen as a new enlightened era. However, it is more accurate to see realism and abstraction as co-existing with different layers of strata that are full of dramatic breaks, ruptures in these layers; stopping points, rifts, shafts, with their multifarious interactions. Photography in creating something new can be seen as a bringing together of disparate elements or lines that cross cut its history without being confused with it or being stifled by its conformity.