Vadim in the Mix

dj mixes = aural psychogeographies through the archives of recorded sound history.

but, just as boards of canada now reproduces the sound of grainy seventies film soundtracks such as those commissioned by canada's national film board (nfb), and hip hop artists like the roots reintroduce the sound of dust-and-groove-induced vinyl lp static on digital tracks, so too will future artists reproduce the sounds of the machines that record and represent contemporary sound histories — such as the flat, tinny sound of bass-induced vibration heard on mass-produced computer speakers when turned up a little too loudly.

thus the dj mix can offer not only an aural psychogeography of the archival audio content for one or many cultures, but also an aural psychogeography of the borderlinks between form of communication and mechanical reproduction technique.

all of which is another way of stating that the medium is the message is the medium.

Striated-Body-(Affect)-Smooth

Courtesy of Michelle O\'Byrne
Michelle O'Byrne
Untitled
2007

This untitled photo by Toronto artist Michelle O'Byrne could be considered in the context of sportsBabel as an excellent representation of smooth and striated space, the complementary political concepts presented by Deleuze and Guattari. Plastic body, fetishized body of the fashion sign system located in circuits of spectacular consumption, cyborg body that finds the smooth gaps in striated space — nay, the body that actively, but delicately, pries apart the gridwork weft that serves to discipline and control, the body that seizes the possibility of becoming, of passing through space on a nomadic journey rather than being passed through space on a determined metric.

So we might ask: How does the athletic body — plastic body, fetishized body, cyborg body — actively create for itself new spaces of becoming?

The answer: Delicately.

High-Speed Photography and Time Dilation

A few notes comparing two of Eadweard Muybridge's offspringbullet time photography and the high-speed photo finish system — more than a century after the godfather of biomechanics kickstarted a new science.

The camera

Muybridge pioneered the technological visioning of human movement by having a single fixed-location camera take a motion and strobically break it into individual segments for analysis.

Muybridge

With bullet time photography we take many photos at once to dilate a moment of action/time and create a fluid movement of the "camera" during that dilated moment. In other words, we have multiple cameras shooting from multiple points to create a "virtual camera" that moves on any line that the photographer desires. Although the "virtual camera" is moving, the spirit of Muybridge's technique remains the same. Crucially, however, computer software interpolates between the photographic data points to re-create fluid movement (of the camera) and reconstitute the moving object (though relatively static compared to the camera), thus dilating time.

In the sprint photo finish, on the other hand, Muybridge's technique is exactly the same, except accelerated by a camera taking 2,000 photos per second. Instead of the act of interpolation uniting the discrete image (data points) together, as with bullet time, the computer software removes all images not required to determine the exact moment that a body crosses the finish line — one camera shooting from a single point.

Event-occurrence

In the case of bullet time photography, time is dilated by the "movement" of the virtual camera, as the sub-component cameras fire sequentially or simultaneously. Through interpolation, we have a particular form of produced spectacle in which we create that which does not occur. Becoming is controlled by a software algorithm.

Photo Finish

In the case of the photo finish, time is dilated with the assistance of the graduated clock ruler at the bottom of the layered image. By eliminating all images save the ones in which a runner crosses the finish line, we effect the erasure of that which did occur. Motion is arrested.

Edge detection

MJ - Bullet Time - Courtesy MJ to the MaxBullet time usually requires the concurrent use of chroma key (greenscreen) techniques in order to construct its spectacular outcome. At that point, colour serves as the means of edge detection such that contours may be traced and the individual subject separated from its environment. Contra Benjamin, it is not so much the aura of the actor's individual performance that is lost, but rather the entire lived spatial environment that is forcibly removed by fiat of computer software.

The edge detection of the photo finish system is more powerful and insidious in that it doesn't require a special background from which to isolate objects and trace their contours relative to the finish line. Although no background is being substituted in producing the final representational output, the ability to detect edges in spite of this becomes all the more impressive.

Hexagonal (Pitch) and Orthogonal (Sight Line)

The hexagonal (or circular — the hexagon is just a circle with fewer sidelines) pitch of the three-sided sporting contest makes it quite impossible for the normal wide angle sideline camera and its orthogonal view to be the primary (dominant) camera (mode of representation) for televising such an event. In a rectangular sportscape the sideline wide angle camera view is essentially the same from both sides of the field (simply reversed), and thus only one camera is necessary to fulfill this function. Not so with the hexagonal pitch. In 3-sided sports, the vectors of force at work are multiplied and thus the orthogonal approach is no longer appropriate — the sideline wide angle camera approach must multiply as well to at least three.

MJ - Bullet Time - Courtesy MJ to the MaxWhat is perhaps more likely, however, is the introduction of a haptic solution to the problem of spectacle production in three-sided sport. Like the technique used to create bullet time imagery in The Matrix or with Michael Jordan's recreated foul line dunk, expect multiple cameras to create a three-dimensional, manipulable picture of the action in real time. The technique already exists to accomplish this visual effect, but requires optimization to improve its price point as well an appropriate "killer" application to drive market penetration.

In this aspect of covering the entire space of play, it is somewhat like the CableCam, but with two key differences: the CableCam works generally on the grid principle of movement along x- and y-axes (though the camera may also move up and down slightly in the z-axis), while the bullet time system dispenses altogether with camera movement in favour of simulation to create an illusion of movement. In doing so, it removes control of the camera from an operator (singular) and grants it to the viewing public (plural).

Three-Sided Basketball

Last summer my friend Stuart (of Sceptical Futuryst fame) introduced me to the work of Asger Jorn and his concept of three-sided football. I was quite taken with Jorn's idea, as it seemed to challenge the type of binary (and symmetrical) thinking that mano-a-mano, home vs. away, favourite vs. underdog, white hat vs. black hat modern team sport fosters.

It is worth noting that Jorn was a founding member of the Situationist International, and a colleague of Guy Debord, since sport was certainly emerging during the post-war period as an important contributor to the society of spectacle. Jorn's Marxist roots and subsequent attempts to move beyond Marxist dialectical thought are apparent in his challenge to the game of football.

Courtesy of Dr. PinkyCourtesy of Dr. Pinky

The diagram on the left shows the hexagonal football pitch, while the diagram on the right shows how out-of-bounds situations (throw-ins, goal kicks, corners) are allocated when the α team touched the ball last. Importantly, the addition of a third team in Jorn's football matches includes the addition of a third goal as well. This bifurcates the possible directions of forward progress or vectors of force that are appropriate at any one time (though this obviously doesn't include the voluntary decision to reverse course and convert excess space into scarce time): which direction does one attack?

Beyond the intersection of critical theory and sport, I was really interested to learn about Jorn's three-sided football because I had theorized a form of three-sided basketball many years ago. (This was before I began sportsBabel; however, a sketch from an old notebook is reproduced below.) As with Jorn's game, there were three goals to correspond with the three teams competing — each team defending a particular goal and creating a sportscape resembling a triangle inscribed within a circle (a hexagon with an infinite number of sidelines?). I, too, sought to challenge the binary of modern team sport though at the time I didn't understand it as such. The difference between Jorn's game and my own, however, is that my game added an extra ball to the field of play.

3-Sided Basketball

If we understand the ball (green circle) as a source of energy or gravitational pull within a sporting space, then what does the addition of a second ball to the three-sided sporting event accomplish? Clearly it serves to divide attention for the hypothetical players, coaches, spectators, referees and media (presuming the latter four parties are present, of course) as any one team must simultaneously be on offence and defence.

The other notable characteristic of my proposed game — given that there are two balls involved — is that each team has an even number (4) of players. This means that to get an advantage when attacking offensively a team has three basic options: use 3 players to attack while only leaving 1 back to defend the goal; send 2 players out and hope to outmanoeuvre the defence while leaving 2 behind to defend the goal; or send 2 players out and form a temporary alliance with a player from the third team to try and gain a numerical advantage on the offensive attack.

This begs the question of how to address score. In Jorn's three-sided football, a team does not count goals they have scored but rather those they have conceded. In my three-sided basketball,

AB AY AR Total
Blue -6 4 2 0
Yellow 4 -5 3 2
Red 2 1 -5 -2

on the other hand, both scoring and defending are important, hence the points conceded are deducted from the points scored against each of the other two teams (AB = against Blue, etc.). Since offensive points as well as conceded points are being tallied the problem of temporary alliances that Jorn was interested in exploring via his triolectic philosophy changes. No longer do we simply form an alliance with a second team in order to score against a third team — the question of who scored matters. If Blue and Yellow form an alliance to score on Red, with Blue ultimately scoring the point, then the trivalent logic suggests that Blue = +1, Red = -1, and Blue has an outstanding debt to Yellow. When Blue and Yellow form an alliance again at some future point, it is expected that Yellow will be afforded a better than even opportunity to score in return.

The actual dynamics of these obligations are dependent upon who has the numerical advantage in players within any particular alliance. For every time Blue sends out 2 offensive players that are joined on the attack by a Yellow player, approximately two-thirds of the points should be scored by Blue; and vice-versa if Yellow is the team that initially sends out 2 players. This requires a sort of real-time game theory calculation in which athletes balance the relative merits of competition and cooperation against historical outcomes while running at top speed towards a goal.

I am really excited to learn more about Jorn's triolectic philosophy and how he applied it to football. But my initial thought is that Jorn didn't go far enough in his deconstruction of binary team sport. The addition of the second ball might be a step further in the triolectic approach. More to follow.

ADAMS' Apple

A recent announcement from the World Anti-Doping Agency informs us that:

A new SMS feature added recently to ADAMS [Anti-Doping Administration & Management System] makes it simple for athletes to submit Whereabouts updates using a mobile phone, smart phone, or PDA. While athletes are still required to enter Whereabouts into ADAMS on a quarterly basis, this new SMS feature facilitates updates, especially when Internet is not available.

. . .

The real-time availability of Whereabouts updates will help to ensure greater efficiency for both anti-doping organizations and athletes. Because Whereabouts information can be modified from anywhere, athletes have more flexibility in keeping information current.

"The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame." — Genesis 2:25