Gait, Surveillance and Spectacle

From an administrative perspective a person's gait is a marker of difference. The dizzying permutations and combinations of myriad factors constitute the code of our individual gait: height, weight, age, gender, centre of gravity, periodicity of stride length, number of legs, number of arms, material composition of prosthetic limb, indications for arthritis or other joint disease, prior accidents, access to health care, symmetry of body, footwear, style, cultural norms, curvature of spine, strength of core stabilizer muscles, and many more that could be added to this list. This code allows for surveillance to move beyond the strictly optic and enter the realm of the haptic, in which the walking body is sensually contoured by the eye towards identifying each individual subject by their gait.

If we suggest that surveillance and spectacle are like a moebius strip of control in the production and consumption of sport, then one wonders how gait-based surveillance techniques might be integrated into the sporting spectacle. To a certain degree, an understanding of the individualizing aspects of gait has already been integrated into sports videogames via motion capture, which allows sports videogame companies to create player constructs that "move" like their real-life celebrity doppelgangers.

But one suspects it likely that gait-based identification would also be integrated into the econometric analyses provided by ProZone and their ilk. As players come together on the pitch, there must some error produced by the apparatus in attempting to identify individual athletes (Foucault notes the political and economic problems inherent in the mass or swarm). Periodic gait analysis would offer a sort of six sigma error reduction process to the econometric apparatus.


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