nonhuman actors and expression

Stadium Surfing

Idea for a Conceptual Art Project, No.22:

1. Take a sports stadium teeming with partisan fans.
2. Combine the pixelated card stunt with the spectator wave to create an 8-bit surfing avatar.
3. Ride that motherfucker 'round and 'round the stadium.
4. Synchronize wide-angle tracking shot.
5. Bail avatar headfirst into the wash.

 

A Short Note on Crowds and Expression

The "crowd" at a sporting event is not simply an aggregated number of individuals, nor a produced energy or volume, but a relationship to the capacity and architecture of a competition space proper (3,000 people watching a basketball game is a large number, for example, though one that loses significance in the context of an 18,000-seat sports arena). This relationship is precisely what constitutes the crowd as "crowd" — as an autonomous actor in its own right, singular yet plural, but also understood as an intensity. The plurality is this material aggregation in space of spectating bodies, while the "crowd"-as-singular is the singularity of a produced intensity as it waxes and wanes in the context of its architectural relation. That is, as an intensity the crowd may peak or subside but it may never be subdivided as such and still retain its internal coherency, as-crowd. Material space may be prefigured, but experiential space is co-generated.

Similarly, it is understood that there is some relationship between the energy of a crowd and the quality, sharpness and affective tone of the players on the court. This is not meant as a causal relationship of call-and-response between the two parties, but is rather to suggest mutual feedback loops between the "positive" or "negative" energies of a crowd, on the one hand, and the relative qualities of discipline and stylishness performed by the athletes at play, on the other. It is a mutually emerging field of experience we are describing, affective tensors played out in loosely-configured strategies of produced tension. A collective sporting individuation.

Have you ever tried playing an "important" game in an empty gym?

As we've already suggested, however, the crowd is also produced as an individuation in its relation to the arena architecture. If this is indeed the case then we must further note that the arena architecture plays a role in producing the gestural expression of the athletes at play. In other words, the nonhuman machine of the sporting arena — in a material sense — co-generates the expressive potential of those who perform.

Or, put differently again, this architectural object becomes subject-in-relation as its potential affects are to likewise produce an artificial becoming of athletic virtuosity. Those qualities of discipline and stylishness performed by the athletes at play may best reach their expressive peaks precisely because of their relationship to the material form of the sporting space proper.

(The question then becomes one of Virilian traject, or the tempo at which this arcing clinamen of individuating process plays itself out expressively, in contagio.)

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