The Voice (and its Mingled Bodies)

Courtesy of Kellogg

With professional sport — and particularly those major professional sports leagues that play a large number of games in a season, such as the NBA, NHL or MLB — there exist at least three distinct tempos at play which animate the television broadcast. The first is born of the Flesh that plays the game proper — that is, the athletes that literally provide the muscular motor for the sporting spectacle that is being produced. Fast-twitch fibres, razor-sharp reflexes, power: everyone says the game is always fasterthe athletes that much more impressive — when they are witnessed in person, which is to say volumetrically.

The second tempo is provided by the multiple Eye that captures this fleshy expenditure in its becoming, both for telecast to audiences far removed from the sports stadium as well as for archival purposes and their future extractive values — from in camera to on camera. Obviously this is the tempo most apparent to the television viewer at whatever contingency is called home, even though its aim is to achieve a perfect transparency that allows for the truth of sporting copoiesis and its measureable objectives to illuminate the living room or sports bar space.

Paradoxically, this is a tempo of acceleration: while slow-motion instant replay allows the network producer to loop back ad infinitum to show athletic exploits at reduced speed in startling detail, the multiple cuts they entail and indeed the slow-motion techniques themselves serve overall to somatically accelerate a pace that has been largely compromised by the wide-angle tracking shot.

This subtle narcosis of the TV screen is in turn partially offset by a third tempo, that of the Voice (play-by-play, colour commentary) which narrates the athletic emergence and channels its discursive formation in a fashion that toggles between registers of servomechanism and agency. While the fleshy bodies on the field of play must eventually decay and be replaced by other peak bodies, the Voice is timeless — or at least of a pace that introduces nostalgia through the rhythmic undulation of its articulations and periodic spasms of hyperbole (if you are sleeping then you are not paying full enough attention).

Puberty is metamorphosis for the Voice: expression has changed, a phase shift that for both genders generally deepens the tone and produces a different quality of intensity to the air that is expired with every word spoken. After puberty, one's voice barely changes throughout the rest of one's life, even while the rest of its fleshy container grows old and withers. While peak athletic bodies come and go at great pace, the timelessness of the announcing Voice is ensured so long as it does not become strange and lose its ability to connect at this slower tempo.

The Voice is a Skin (or perhaps an aural form of what Serres refers to as a veil) that does not appear on the TV screen too often — in fact, we might consider it a form that ruptures the pellicule (skin) itself. Its performative expression is much less for the television than it is a performance of the television and its network affiliations for the hordes in attendance at the stadium. At the very least the Face of the Voice is visible on-screen rarely enough that the sight of bad toupees, weaves or awkward botox treatments are either barely registered or offer a quaint and queer artefect produced as the excess of nostalgia's claims to truth.

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Rewind: Sept. 2008: "Structurally, late modern sport operates along two primary temporal vectors: it is at once the eternal recurrence of a particular sporting history wrapped in the warm folds of nostalgia (or better, what LCD Soundsystem might call borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered century) and a continual preparation for contagion, processing, incarceration and trauma. Somewhere in between this implicated past and future is the now of consumption."

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Generally speaking, we might suggest it is the multiple Eye (and its interface with the touch of Skin) that governs the preparation for contagion, processing, incarceration and trauma found in late modern sport, while the Voice (and its interface with the touch of Skin) anchors its eternal recurrence of particular sporting histories in nostalgia.

Finally, we might suggest that the Flesh (and its interface with the touch of Skin) both implicates and is implicated by the now of consumption. It is here that exchange occurs, tempos slightly out of joint, though one hopes not overly so. It is here that we gesture towards new forms of encounter, new politics, new exchanges — in part through and with the Skin, but also by interfacing Flesh directly, in resonances of harmony or interference.


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