Proposition for an Exploded Foosball Table

Exploded Foosball - Photos Courtesy of Laura Cull and Pia Ednie-Brown

proposition for an exploded foosball table
department of biological flow
+ generating the impossible

july 2011

Process is transduced back from the open expanses of rural thought to the gridly confines of the city. The artists create a small football pitch within the space least populated by trees (though there were still several). Each player is connected to another by woven wicker fingercuffs. The ball is a gift to the community, processed, remixed and retransmitted. As if rupturing the heavy striations of the foosball table, the artists begin a game of fingercuff soccer.

It is probably best that the game is postponed from the rural camp space of openness to the more highly-coded space of the city, because both (modern) sport and the city exist primarily as expressions of rule sets which code the flow of bodies in motion. Neither team wears uniforms.

Rules

One of the interesting characteristics of this particular community of people is that each of its members to some degree challenge all rules. Every constraint given exists for them as a condition of possibility — if only it could be turned just so, or perhaps that way instead. For the most part, this is a community of experimentation always operating with/in linguistic rule systems insofar as they offer affordances of potential.

And yet in this quasi-sporting context (what Massumi would refer to as a proto-sport) we found it interesting that the impetus to challenge and invert was subdued in favour of more rigorously following cognate rule sets of familiarity — "am I allowed to do this?" A geography of Foucauldian docility (partially) slipped on like a soccer jersey. As the game began and the bodies started moving, however, this preoccupation with rules relaxed in favour of the more usual topology of experimentation.

Exploded Foosball - Photos Courtesy of Laura Cull and Pia Ednie-Brown

Gesture

The basic gesture of soccer is simple, both conceptually and in practice: kick the ball, usually toward the other goal. All other skills in the sport derive from this basic gesture (which you could then spend a lifetime learning to do well). Even so, kicking the ball is certainly not as simple as making contact with one's foot in the forward direction: the entire trunk of the body, arms and head coordinate to execute the kick, often at a vector just slightly offset from perpendicular. The body comes around the ball, so to speak, in order to kick it forward with more control.

Given the play of replicated or hybrid foosball bodies in the game, however, gesture simultaneously became a multiplicity as well as more constrained in a perpendicular sense. Put simply, with the fingercuffs on it was very difficult to kick in any way but straight forward with one's toe. Force channeled forward at all times, even if it was a bastardized "forward". Kicking with many legs is a skill that could certainly be improved by the stylish foosball player, but with experiments following so soon after being exploded it was the awkwardness of gesture (the stutter?) that proved most interesting.

Swarms followed the ball wherever it went on the pitch. The goal seemed important for everyone, some more than others. This community of artists, so soft in the rural setting of thought, collectively competed with aggression and abandon. There were aches and pains and even a minor injury.

(You know it was a Deleuzian soccer game when the only "minor" injury involved someone getting kicked in the "face" with a "part-subject" … har har …)

Exploded Foosball - Photos Courtesy of Laura Cull and Pia Ednie-Brown

Emergent conditions

As mentioned earlier, once the initial preoccupation with following the rules ceded to a more general competitive play and transduction of the field of potential, there were several interesting conditions of possibility which emerged. Some involved a collective notification of a new rule, while others a more subtle (or subterfuged?) renegotiation — each a particular outcome of style.

Examples of the former include scoring systems in which teams lost a point for scoring a goal or if a child was hurt during the course of play; the removal of shoes to make the game softer; and the requirement that goals scored must be below waist height. Examples of the latter include players who completely broke free from the fingercuff and played "solo" during the game; the modular interlocking of fingercuffs into clusters or three or four players; and pairings that played for both teams at the same time (switch?). There was even a performance of diving.

Finally, there was the programmed condition. The actual soccer ball was removed from the game, to be replaced by an imagined ball. The gestures of the players would dictate the position of the ball (always smudged) on the field of play. And the aggression of performance makes its final appearance as one team scores two goals in a matter of seconds to end the game in a tie.

Who had the more convincing actors?

blindsided (an experiment in remembering and forgetting)

blindsided - original photo by pia ednie-brown

an experiment in recalibrated perception

by chance i come across a brilliant land art installation in a small thicket of trees on the periphery of our cabin retreat. simple, elegant, fragile, rich: it has been created by three danish artists as a site-specific gift to our temporary community.

it is also the last thing that i will see for the next hour or so.

a blindfold is placed over my eyes. black and moderately worn, it is the type of blindfold preferred by the frequent airline traveller or perhaps by one who lives sufficiently north that the sun rarely sets at certain times of the year. i can see cracks of daylight at the bottom of my visual field, even though i am craving deep darkness. we begin to move.

i am guided by my left hand as we begin walking away from the art installation, back towards the main cabin area. i hear voices off in the distance — noni's in particular stands out from the lake area off to the far right. or at least that is what the rough map in my memory is trying to tell me. where are my coordinates?

the touch on my hand stays cool even though my body bakes with many fevers of exposure. what are the politics of consent in this context? i wonder briefly, although it may not have been at this point in our journey. while my consent is not one of language, it is present nonetheless.

there is a pause. i wait and wait before i realize i am meant to figure out some sort of puzzle. that's it, there is a short step in front of me, i feel it with the edge of my foot. we've intersected a small wooden boardwalk: i don't remember that from my mental map … where are we? i am gently assisted onto the step and then off the other side. there are more voices now and i feel even more acutely exposed, naked to my context or how my body-in-relation is being perceived, if at all. the field as i understand it has been compromised by this invisibility.

we keep walking. though the voices and their conversations do not seem to break rhythm, i feel more acutely aware of a collective gaze that connects to-them-to-me in some way. the relational field has been altered irrevocably, or maybe it is just in my mind.

we stop once again. this time the hand gently pushes down on my shoulder and then i am sitting at the end of a picnic table. the voices continue to pretend that nothing unusual is taking place, and maybe that is the case with these thinkers and creators — maybe it is only unusual for me.

wait, did i already say that?

slowly, my shoe is untied and removed, followed by my sock. i think it is my right foot first, though i cannot be sure at this time. the other foot follows. i feel a brief tremor of thrill or fear as i wonder if anything else will be removed. once again my left hand is taken — an already familiar comfort — and the bare skin of my soles feels the cool grass underfoot. once again we are walking.

noni asks why that man is blindfolded and barb tries to explain, though i can tell by the sound of her voice that she's not quite certain either. exposed. the ground underneath my feet changes from grass to hardscrabble dirt and tiny pebbles. the level path begins to slope away — we are heading down to the water's edge, i think. another pause, another puzzle: but this time i am more prepared and gently feel around with my foot for the large step in front of me. we proceed.

we enter a rowboat. i can feel its hydraulic imbalance underneath. i am sitting at the front of the boat, in the navigation seat. ha, ha! we push off from shore.

paddle, paddle. are we headed to the other side of the cove? another tiny thrill, far from the madding crowd. my exposure levels are stabilizing out here on the water and again i wonder briefly about the question of consent. i don't know where i'm going and my quality of touch has been radically reconfigured.

we don't make it to the other side of the cove, but rather describe a sweeping arc that leads back to the floating trampoline about 25 feet away from shore. we dock with the trampoline and i am helped aboard from the rowboat. erin and brian are there, alanna's laughter sings from off to the right, and i think somebody else was present as well.

i sit there like some sort of praying mantis or character from a pulp fiction movie. erin asks something about what i am doing, i don't remember what exactly. i reply that i don't think i'm supposed to talk. (and that is all i said for the duration of the exercise.) i'm just here/hear in a listening role.

now back on the boat, though this time i hold the oars. awkward gesture for me, even at the best of times, and now is not the best of times. i paddle off, my guide now sitting behind me in the boat. and off and off, i have no idea where we are or where we are going. i think we actually run slightly aground at one point, don't we?

as time passes i become convinced that my guide has quietly slipped out of the boat and left me there paddling blindly. turns out to be true, only i find out later that i was actually abandoned much earlier in the passage — though who can be certain of time in these imprecise storytellings?

and is it really abandonment we are describing anyway, or a stretching of the relational fibres toward a tentative autonomy?

noni breaks the silence of my contemplation, chattering and laughing with abandon. i try to hone in on her to find my way back to the dock but it sounds like she is running back and forth along the shoreline, a beacon in motion. i find out later that this perceived movement was relative: i've in fact been rowing in circles the entire time.

after much exercise, the sirens finally guide me back to the floating trampoline. i ferry the discussion back to shore — clever idea, erin. she is sitting in front of me, i think. she puts her hand on my left shoulder as she gingerly navigates her way to the back of the rowboat. i paddle, and the extra weight of my cargo isn't as noticeable as i'd thought it would be. i do not sing opera en route, as we would do in the dark later that week.

i am helped out of the boat and guided uphill to the other trampoline, from water to land. two trampolines: did you feel the difference?

i'm jumping, tentatively. brian is with me. was erin or saara there as well? i want to say one of them but i can't be certain then, and i do not remember now. i do hear noni's voice as she joins us on the trampoline and i hope i don't crush her in my awkward bounding about.

have you ever tried doing yoga on the subway? start there and then add unpredictable vertical oscillations on trampoline elasticity — or something like that. my gesture in staying on my feet can only be described as supple arthritis. except for those times i fell.

time to go, but it was fun. i exit the trampoline netting, am led back over to my socks and shoes, and my blindfold is removed. or maybe we walk back over to the front door of the lodge first, i can't be sure. though my other senses have been spoiled, i never fully let go of vision.

maybe next time.

On Premature Subjectivity

Courtesy of Amber Scoon

amber scoon
falling (#1)
2009
fabric, string, rope, rock

"Traces circulate in a transsubjective zone by way of matrixial affects and nonconscious threads that disperse different aspects of virtual and traumatic events between I and non-I. Since I cannot fully handle events that profoundly concern me, they fade-in-transformation while my non-I becomes wit(h)ness to them. It may happen that because of my premature subjectivity or the highly traumatic value of the events, I cannot psychically handle my encounters at all. In the matrixial psychic sphere, my imprints will be transscribed in the other, and to begin with in the m/Other. Thus my others will process traumatic events for me, like my m/Other processed archaic events for my premature and fragile subjectivity. Female bodily specificity is thus the site, physically, imaginatively, and symbolically, where a feminine difference emerges, and through which a 'woman' is interlaced as a figure that is not confined to one-body, but is rather a hybrid 'webbing' of links between several subjectivities, who by virtue of that webbing become partial. Metramorphosis, as a carrier of such originary difference and of its transforming potentiality, induces instances of co-emergence and co-fading as meaning and of transcription as the memory of oblivion. In the matrixial borderspace, a specific aesthetic field with ethical implications comes to light, with metramorphosis as the poietic-artistic process."

– Bracha Ettinger, The Matrixial Borderspace, p.141

_____

memory pruned, tangent by tangent.
hardened skin hardens . . .

constellation

daylight moon - original photos courtesy of laura cull

enter the line
at the point not
then or where-now
but sort of a
silent halfway toward
finding ourselves.

tiny menhirs dot curious
our passage together
ancient journeys through time
or with moments to live.

~

question traced to your earthly toe pointed,
i am lost again without words. you
retreat, too early. insistent, the
question extended: you are the line,
i seem to be trying to say.

tiny menhir placed in your tiny hand
with a tiny hope.
you make a tiny line,
an opening.
dirt dialogue daydreams
in delayed diachronic display,
this play ex-changed
soft scars sent astray.

~

you are the childlike philosopher
i've heard so much about
but struggle to locate in the
everyday constellations
of two-way mirrors
that assail my very blinking
with their movements and visions.

factions of refractions,
but they have it all wrong
invert the proposition,
the sun reflects the light of your moon
bathing traces of wordless incisions.

(i've already said too much.)

maybe you don't understand this right now and
maybe you never will and
maybe you already have

walking under the daylight moon.

_____

(for stellaluna.)

temporarily impermanent

Hopscotch Threshold

immanent.

like a temperature on
one's lips, is the word
not begun inspirating
a whisper of breath
to the sky
nigh expired.

expressed espresso of
quick twitch
flip sprinting
and surfing
the waves of
pedestrian glinting
and slowing
the beat to a much softer glowing,
for laying me lowing .tv dogs radioing,
[or rowing those waves but revisioned for knowing]
and wondering and waiting
and tired.

 
(bergson breeze is still blowing)
 

can third be the number to remember you (bye)?
sport supple gestures in
damp potter's spaces
claymation emerges
from multiplied paces
fastfry fractal relation
on hot blacktop baking
oven fired.

crying wolf. pack well
for timely dilation
braille acupuncture
teletype operator
of gait surfing needles
and coded transmissions
"i love you" net virus
contemplating my status of
wired.

so tired.

released

free radicals

free radical,
you have a sensitivity
to me and me and we.

 

(make. move. think.)

 

unforeseen trajects and
vectors tweak sweet
your lonely field of
harpsichord fission.

pre-pose to propose
the untold position. thin
hints compose an
unfolding proposition.

 

(you make me stutter internally)
(you make me laugh nervously)

 

poet maudit of
moving hands and jestures
smiling sadnesses
in sparkling blue.

my tense sheds
its tension, venturing
tentative to open our
trembling resonance anew.

free radical,
i've found a sensitivity
to we and we and you.

_____

(that was number 3 on this week's top 40 countdown: "released" by frankie mekoos and the gazzolas.)