Somatic Flux, Tactile Burden

The contemporary city: a site of decaying spaces and shiny interfaces. A meshwork of subjectivities accelerating faster than the ability of our own embodiment to keep up. The question today has become one of embodiment. Does the body sense? Does the body move or create?

Is the body liquid?

Swimming pool. Pond at the local park. Damp mist that turns to shower that turns to driving downpour. Gutters, storm drains, and underground conduits of wastewater. Evaporating sweat from the back of the road construction worker, the broker in the trading pit, or the athlete at the stadium. Aqua may be found all over the city, flows coursing independently yet bound up with one another as well as with larger processes in patterns binary, circular and linear.

Green grass at the park. Humming streets. Golf course turf. Designer architecture. Chipped concrete curbs and asphault blacktop. Abandoned lots. Thatch and decomposing undergrowth. What aqua gives (life), it also takes away (decay). Speed makes us forget sometimes that the solidity of terra is itself bound up in liquid processes, which perhaps take just a little longer to witness visually.

Aqua has a diversified rapport with terra in the folds of the contemporary city, sometimes as signal and other times as noise to the constantly throbbing rhythms of dwelling and commerce. The tree, the pond, the park, the rain: all connected by fluxes of people navigating, tracing and inscribing the urban everyday. Always flowing. Never trapped, enclosed or solid.

Is the body liquid?

Traditionally, the playmaker has been the figure in sports who makes plays, that is, who manufactures positive outcomes in the clutch, who embodies drill, discipline, execution and repetition. But a new logic of bodies and flow is emerging in cities around the world. Existing energy systems become the locus of creative possibility for the athletic body, as we witness with the street skateboarder, the snowboarder, or the parkour athlete who contours and traces asphault, concrete, bricks and mortar on runs through the urban cityscape.

A challenge has been issued to the sprinter and marathoner. Increasingly seen as products of the industrial laboratory, they stand markedly in contrast to the flowing body and the growing variety of energetic systems in which it realizes its potential. But we need not be describing these figures as mutually exclusive. Merge art and science, fold this emerging dynamism back upon the runner, imagine the urban as a field of sporting possibility and ride the somatic flux of pedestrian traffic through the streets, concourses and plazas. For it is the human body, in both singular and plural form, that connects together the various flows of aqua and terra in the contemporary city.

Instead of making plays, one must now embrace the challenge of making play, rescuing it from the seriousness of industrial manufacture and the factory production model. To make plays, one blocks out the noise of the crowd and visualizes the task at hand. To make play, by contrast, one embraces and engages the noise of the crowd, sensing one's self in space as an affective body, athletic and full of creative potential.

Find the points of intersection between binary, circular and linear forms. Ride the interference waves in the oscillation between signal and noise. Make play. Flow. This constitutes the tactile burden of all playmakers, regardless of their material habitat: to feel the heaviness of the body at the same moment one feels the lightness of its liquidity. To move, perform, create, liberate.

Is the body liquid?

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(final copy of a text that was to be published in a design catalogue by a major athletic footwear and apparel company; catalogue deep-sixed due to budget concerns amid the worldwide crisis of neoliberalism)


2 responses to Somatic Flux, Tactile Burden

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  1. Kalle Jonasson says:


  2. sportsBabel » sacred iliac flow? says:

    [...] the other-in-flux? Can we suggest that it is an act of gratitude for the relation that allows one to be liquid and surf? Can we consider such bowing to be free (at least right now) of the protocol we find, for example, [...]