It is a well-worn dictum in the sciences that much discovery takes place when mistakes occur and an unplanned result emerges. But the same may be said of artistic inquiry or that nebulous zone of folding between the two that we have referred to as research-creation. Some of this failure has previously been documented on sportsBabel: for example, a failure of internet connectivity that yields to the emergence of imagined architectures; a failure of the body that leads to new insights about skin and electricity; and various failures of language that provided lessons about relationality.
More recently, as part of the Department of Biological Flow project of research-creation, we have encountered a pattern of failures centred around the problem of synchronicity. In our studies as mobile social subjects navigating public and quasi-public corporate spaces we have found achieving synchronicity to be a stumbling block three times, each in different ways. With our first study in the gait surfing series, we were frustrated in our attempts to synchronize MP3 players and create a shared acoustic space for the activity. More recently, during our first kino-gait study we found it very difficult to synchronize multiple cameras on the body to achieve the desired effect of gestural vision. Finally, given that multiple takes were required to simulate the kino-gait concept, there was a difficulty synchronizing the various visual frames in post-production to create the finished video.
still attached to a person
to validate my excursion.
i'm just another incarnation of you
that's the reason we can move to this in unison
(one self, "fear the labor")
While each of these examples seems quite trivial, it is perhaps precisely because of this quality that they provide us an important lesson: namely, an experiential understanding of the capital-intensive technical infrastructure that is required to effect synchronicity — particularly with regards to perception — on a mass scale.
(Admittedly, the barriers to a wider distribution of said technical ability have dropped dramatically over the past century, as a genealogy from blitzkrieg tank warfare to contemporary flash mob makes abundantly clear. Nonetheless, questions of scalability still exist.)
But it also suggests to us deeper questions of rhythm, resonance, and the potential of the not-quite-synchronous. Put differently, what can relational bodies do when they are just out of sync?