Secure Volumes and Docile Identities

"Two very beautiful naked girls are crouched facing each other. They touch each other sensually, they kiss each other's breasts lightly, with the tip of the tongue. They are enclosed in a kind of cylinder of transparent plastic. Even someone who is not a professional voyeur is tempted to circle the cylinder in order to see the girls from behind, in profile, from the other side. The next temptation is to approach the cylinder, which stands on a little column and is only a few inches in diameter, in order to look down from above: But the girls are no longer there. This was one of the many works displayed in New York by the School of Holography" (Umberto Eco, 1975, p.3).

2008 Olympic Ticket

Umberto Eco cleverly juxtaposes desire and reality in the opening lines of his essay "Travels in Hyperreality" and its observation of the hologram. Naturally, the objects of our desire assume greater value to us the more they approach a real that has purportedly been denied to us. Or, perhaps more correctly, when they return in a hyperrealized form from a "real" that was always already there for us to seize. And so much the better if these two writhing nymphs can lift themselves off the surface of the page or screen (not unlike those silicone or elastomeric gel sex dolls designed for intercourse) to build an edifice of technological titillation on the abject foundation of absent sensuality.

The process of creating such a hologram is in fact a double process as well as a process of doubling. A beam of light (laser or white light) is split such that one beam illuminates the object from which some of the reflected light falls on the recording medium. The other light beam resulting from the split, known as the reference beam, also illuminates the recording medium such that an interference pattern occurs between the two beams, which forms the hologram itself. Once this hologram is illuminated with a beam of light identical to the original reference beam, it becomes visible to the human eye as a represented image seemingly within the surface of inscription.

But to create Eco's beautiful naked girls requires a second process. By recording a hologram of a hologram we may create an image "in front" of the photographic plane and produce the sorts of three-dimensional projections that induce such awe in the society of spectators, with their desires and realities. As Eco points out, these second-generation holograms are no mere child's play, as they have serious applications in astronomy, medicine, manufacturing and art.

Of course in credit cards, Olympic tickets, or NBA merchandise the "lesser" first-generation hologram also eludes mere play, having become a serious marker of value and authenticity (one of many in what me might refer to as a security assemblage). The hologram provides a sufficiently complex technology of mass-produced inscription that fashions a volumetric projection of a three-dimensional figure in the non-space created on a two-dimensional plane (credit card, ticket, authentic replica jersey tag). In representing the "authentic" it also serves to assure the identity of the owner.

Is it so difficult then to entertain the notion that the superstar identity-vehicle within an NBA videogame, a three-dimensional or volumetric construct within the non-space created on the two-dimensional plane of the screen (and its offer, rooted in desire and hyperrealism, of prosthetic talent or surrogate style), might also stand as an assurance of identity?

In case this wasn't clear from the outset of videogames, it becomes even more certain in the age of online multiplayer gaming communities (eg. PlayStation Network, Xbox Live). Those who wish to participate in these online communities must gain passage to the space and its identity-vehicles by following two steps: first, by paying the toll of a subscription fee, and second, by guaranteeing identity through the financial means of payment.

FirstnameLastname (the unasked-for original gift) to SocialInsuranceNumber to BankAccountNumber to CreditCardNumber to OnlineGamingCommunityID to SportsVideogameIdentityVehicle, each link in the modulating chain of identification a unique number in a relational database table.

We reiterate: if the function of power in disciplinary societies served to produce docile bodies, its correlate in the societies of control is to produce docile identities, which may also include docile bodies.


8 responses to Secure Volumes and Docile Identities

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  1. sportsBabel » gesture, negative space, capture, agency says:

    [...] to follow earlier work on docile bodies and docile identities, when the discipline-prison becomes the discipline-avatar in the societies of [...]

  2. sportsBabel » notes on sporting <em>pire: hybrid form says:

    [...] study of the mechanisms of control, grasped at their inception, would have to be categorical and to describe what is already in the process of substitution for the disciplinary sites of enclosure, …. It may be that older methods, borrowed from the former societies of sovereignty, will return to [...]

  3. sportsBabel » Pixel to Pellicule says:

    [...] The logic of skin tectonics suggests that such a moving body will never be fully captured by the tightness of its spectacular skin, for there will always be a slippage between integumentary layers. And it is this slippage that [...]

  4. sportsBabel » Pixel to Pellicule to Projection says:

    [...] and (texture) mapped together to create the screen. It is the logic of volumetric striation and the sports videogame avatar: a large set of differential polygon shapes stitched together that reduce to the flat plane of [...]

  5. sportsBabel » Intensionality (for Jean-Luc Nancy) says:

    [...] for any secret agent about to enter the field of potential, the first lesson one learns is that such traps are everywhere to be found. The question is where. The question is [...]

  6. sportsBabel » Metamorphosus Interruptus says:

    [...] societies served to produce docile bodies, its correlate in the societies of control is to produce docile identities, which may also include docile bodies. We must escape the violence of the [...]

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

    [...] darkness of the cipher, then, must in turn reveal itself as a bar code of signification or an identity-vehicle inscribed to the archival skin. There is no cover without [...]

  8. sportsBabel » Numerical Blackface? says:

    [...] Proposition: The uniform is the protective and symbolic skin of baseball, while its numbering number serves as a marker of identity. [...]