Building Bridges

I presented a paper this weekend at the University of Toronto's Building Bridges in Kinesiology, Physical Education, and Health: An Inter-and Multi-Disciplinary Conference. In a session on Body and Movement, I spoke about the "The Art of Work in the Age of its Mediated Simulation". My co-presenters included Linnet Fawcett of Concordia University, who spoke about "In-Between Spaces in Sport: Corporeal Re-creation and the Trick Skater", and Rae Johnson of the University of Toronto, who spoke about the "The Politics of Embodiment: Social Theory and Somatic Practice?"

Linnet's appeal for a sense of body movement that is in the moment resonated strongly with me, particularly given her allegory of skaters who leave the art of their lines on the ice only to be erased a short time later by droplets of water.

Rae told an anecdote from the body awareness and creative movement seminar she leads of a woman who was beaming with pride because it was the first time in decades that she had raised her arms above her head — the reason being that a lifetime of an abusive father and other cultural conditioning factors had made her feel vulnerable anytime she was expressive with her body, particularly in lifting her arms above her head.

These very positive stories of body movement set up my closing paper on The Art of Work. But it wasn't until the question period that I realized how relatively dystopic my work actually is. I promise I'm not this brooding nihilist in person, honest!

Thanks to the crew at U of T for putting on a very professional event that certainly exceeded my expectations.


Virilio again (p.61):

Whether we like it or not, races are always eliminative, not only for the competitors engaged in the competition, but also for the environment underlying their efforts. Whence the invention of an artificial arena, of a 'stage' on which to practise the exploit of extreme speed: stadium, hippodrome or autodrome. Such an instrumentalization of space signalling a tailoring, not only of the body of the athlete, trained to exceed his own limits, or the bodies of the racehorses in our stables, but also of the geometry of the environment supporting such motor performances: the closed-circuit connection of all those vast sporting amenities heralding the closed-loop connection, the final looping and locking up of a world that has become orbital, not only in terms of circumterrestrial satellites on the beat, but of the entire array of telecommunications tools as well.

Something to consider in terms of the cybernetic data flows of the professional sport-media-entertainment complex.

The New Soul/Sole of Sport

Adidas unveils the latest in wearable sports technology, the Adidas 1:

Adidas executives say the shoe is no gadget-dependent gimmick. Instead, its designers say it represents a leap forward in wearable technology. Each second, a sensor in the heel can take up to 20,000 readings and the embedded electronic brain can make 10,000 calculations, directing a tiny electric motor to change the shoe. The goal is to make the shoe adjust to changing conditions and the runner's particular style while in use.

"What we have, basically, is the first footwear product that can change its characteristics in real time," said Mr. DiBenedetto, who led the group that created the shoe, of its ability to adapt its cushioning as the wearer runs.

. . .

High-performance shoes, particularly those intended for athletic use, he said, have been augmented with an array of biomechanical enhancements, most of them involving compressed gases, shock absorbers and springs. But until now, he said, "I don't recall electronics being applied in shoes other than for lights."

Fifteen or so years ago, a 20-megahertz desktop computer was just being released on the market, and cost many thousands of dollars. Today, one is embedded in a running shoe and can be purchased for $250.

Cybernetic Poetic 2

It really is pathetic
that our world is cybernetic,
so devoid of what's poetic
in our need to be electric.
You think that's copasetic?

Check it.

Fall of Leaf Nation

It is truly amazing to see the rise and spread of fads these days. The latest one to hit the sport of hockey was the team flag that flies from the rear window of an automobile. Seemingly overnight, everyone had one of these flags to display their tribal affinity to the team.

Courtesy of David Cooper/Toronto Star

In the case above, of course, the notion of flags and tribalism take on added significance for the citizens of Leaf Nation. For the team's fans in Toronto and elsewhere felt the morale-draining loss of this model war more palpably than they do today's very real wartime losses as citizens of a nation-state.

Changes in Space-Time-Light

From Virilio:

  1. 19th century: TRANSPORT revolution
  2. 20th century: TRANSMISSION revolution
  3. 21st century: TRANSPLANTATION revolution