Not long ago, I discussed how the slowness of the blimp was attractive in the production of sports spectacles, since it allowed for an approximation of geosynchronicity in creating stable television images. Today I want to discuss another application of slowness in accelerated culture.

Virilio (excerpted from Redhead's The Paul Virilio Reader) discusses a mutation in warfare, driven in part by technology, that vectors us towards a state of "ONE MAN = A TOTAL WAR."

Note by way of provisional conclusion that the [1993] attack on the World Trade Centre is testimony to the clever combination of a strong symbolic dimension and an urban demolition capability implicating only a small number of individuals who used a delivery van to deliver terror. In the days of cruise missiles and the most sophisticated nuclear weapons carriers, you have to admit that this is a striking example of political economy!

The 1993 attack was a failure, however. It wasn't until the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC that the terrorists showed evidence of lessons learned from the Americans in the First Gulf War: the use of camera-equipped smart bombs, which transmitted images to CNN of an approaching target before vanishing to static, in a unique merging of medium and message, or weapon and reality TV. In a more poignant example of Virilio's new political economy, a similar effect was achieved by the terrorists on 9/11.

It was the slowness of the planes that made them a particularly useful weapon that day. As opposed to the bombs used in 1993, which exploded so fast that television was only able to capture the damage done, the slowness of the airliners allowed one to get their camcorder around in time to view the plane striking the tower — in other words, to witness the actual event taking place.

It was only at this point of critical mass that speed accelerated to the absolute real-time of the image, delivering an experience far more tactile and visceral than seeing the rubble after the fact.


2 responses to Slowness

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    [...] much slower marathon race. (If we make this ribbon a wider surface, we can in fact leverage this slowness for sponsorship by vectoral [...]

  2. sportsBabel » Wolfgang Schirmacher: In Memoriam di Imagum says:

    [...] and its tension of non-touch. It is together, from these shared sessions of sustenance and their differential tempos that the contingent grammars of dialogue [...]