Liminal Aesthetics and the Adjudication of the Sporting Body
(submitted by sean smith to the 2009 sport & technology: philosophical dimensions conference at langara college)
Visioning technologies are becoming an increasingly important part of the administrative and judicial apparatuses of sport as, for example, with the photo finish or instant replay. Indeed, as sports are contested at ever-higher speeds it can be difficult to authoritatively determine outcomes with any degree of precision in the absence of such visioning. These technologies have traditionally operated by reducing the volumetric to the planar; that is, by using the camera to represent three-dimensional live action in the two-dimensional form of photo or video, which then forms an archive that can be viewed at a later time. But a new class of visioning technologies is emerging that integrates multiple synchronized camera shots into a visually consistent whole to re-create the three-dimensional within a computer database. This is accomplished via the technique of interpolation, in which the data points of video frames are combined to create new data points in between. These new in-between data points have a curious relationship to the real events of athletic competition, however: though they were created from representations of the real and could not exist without them, they themselves never actually occurred. Can these new visioning technologies and their emergent data points provide an ethical basis for the administration and adjudication of the most critical elements of sporting performance?