I Seek You: Countdown to Stereoscopic Tear

A Nonsense Lab Artist Con-fessional, Part Five

"For a long time I thought, in a kind of ignorance, innocence, lack of knowledge, that I wasn't the author of my texts but my unconscious was their author — without counting the innumerable other authors of my texts! Observing language's soaring and moving autonomy, I used to tell myself: it's not me who writes this, it's the Night. I was very disturbed. I used to wonder if it weren't a reprehensible act to let go of the reins, to allow oneself to be carried away, and at the end to sign one's name. Well, I hadn't yet measured the extent to which this source, this energy, was present in several other texts. Because dream is textual energy: our personal nuclear energy."

          — Hélène Cixous

 

"Now, I-woman am going to blow up the Law: a possible and inescapable explosion from now on; let it happen, right now, in language."

          — Hélène Cixous

 

Hanna - Once Upon A Time

October 5, 2011, 12:32pm, near Surfside, FL: Walking to school I saw a monarch butterfly appear out of nowhere. Awkward flight — surfacevolumesurfacevolume — it began to venture out over a major four-lane artery. Halfway over the turbulence was too much and it flew crazily all over the place before pulling a 180, executing a neat glide back to my side of the road, and landing on a flower, orange on purple. Nice ride, dude.

 

 

5. I Seek You: Countdown to Stereoscopic Tear

Twenty minutes, forty-six seconds.

A solitary mecha butterfly flies, flitting and dancing autonomously. And yet it remains multiple, beginning again and again in different contexts and contingencies, multiplying and plying its trades, trading in one identity for another and another, darting and circling or eddying back anew. Schizoid origins, all schizzes and flows and currencies written in bright splotches of colour and retinal afterburns.

We fly, afterburners at the ready.

The temperature rises. Every splotch burns deeper, oenological summons or niacin flush — or perhaps it is a feltness of the years and months elapsed, of the minutes and seconds finally folding into the intensity of the now. Stabilize the shrieking skins and run the program: our nuclear gallery-reactor is operational and the mission is a go (go (go).

Vortically yours, we are drawn to the reaction, inexorably, as if insects drawn to some sort of bright light or pungent concentration of pheromone. To the eye of the storm we venture. The institutional corridors force upon us a sort of linear transit model — a becoming, in grid — but it feels all circling and circling from here, accelerating with every passing moment, tightening like a noose or an umbilical necktie or yards of duct tape bondage and their sticky articulations.

Concentrate. Con-fess. The time is finally here.

Con-fessional: Blast

 

Twenty minutes, forty-six seconds.

Isn't it quite amazing how the appearance of a butterfly can inject a stutter or pause into any conversation? Words and words pour out of the animals in assembly, before they are all of a sudden arrested by the passing flight. Heads turn to trace a lilting poetics, attempting to close the distance with this seemingly awkward beauty. There are no straight lines here, only a relative arrival and departure to bracket a brilliant and bewildering trajectory, surging and lurching in a vibrating and nomadic line avant la lettre.

Then a fractional silence — after which the conversation resumes, altered irrevocably. Jolted, perhaps we forget what we were discussing, perhaps the topic changes or opens anew. Here one moment and gone the next, a becoming made explicit in colour and motion, the lilt and stutter entwining and embracing in some other conversation, fluidly, elsewhere and elsewhen.

Con-fessional: Accelerator Pack

 

Does the mecha butterfly effect a similar microseismic shift upon its entrance? Are the animals entranced? One cannot be certain, though the silence appears pregnant to us in the approach.

It is an anthropomorphic approach, no doubt, a strategic becoming-human of Homo generatus lepidopterae that slows our gaited flight down to the pace of recognition. Hideous beauty, all technological vision and semiotic layering and torn wires, rendering. Machinic. Curvaceous. A coiled vestigial tail trails suggestively in our wake, amplifying the incipient energetics of a body in motion. This weak objectification offered in passing to complement those interwoven schizoid subjectivities we bear — it would all be laughable if the scent of death didn't waft hauntingly betwixt every breath that yawns itself open.

Don't object just yet. Take pause. It will all become quite necessary in due time.

 

      –i think my water just broke.

      –hydraulic thought?

      –labor!

      –aren't you a little young for that?

      –i'm ready.

 

We enter the inner core of the nuclear gallery-reactor. It is a hygienic space, as befits any locale in which surgical operations are to be considered, or in which microknotted entanglements swell to the degree of anxiety. There is no turning back at this point, no time for pauses or reconsiderations — nor would a program or mecha butterfly desire such possibilities in the first place. Expectation, anticipation: these are what hang thick in the air like a field of static electricity awaiting discharge. All we require now is a sort of touching to make manifest the shock potential.

Future shock — potenza.

Con-fessional: Imago-Masks

Department of Biological Flow
Mecha Butterfly Soundsystem and TBA (Teneral Breath Assistant)
2011
mixed media

 

Over here, the ghostly traces of movement research, beckoning questions as if nectar on the lips of an orchid. Walking the city streets or as pen put to paper, dancing the creative keyboard nightclub. The archive performs itself anew.

Over there, the memory generator module, felt and remixed, malleable and moving — from organic to network and back again. And forth again.

Con-fessional: Forensic Itch

Sean Smith
Forensic Itch
2012
mixed media installation

Department of Biological Flow @
Generating the Impossible
Sense Lab, Mekoos/Montreal
July 2011

(please feel free to use the tools and materials provided to modify or edit the work in any fashion.)

 

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(And forth, again. FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM means don't talk about it, animals — that's the first rule. But here's a hint: it's not a wave, as if such a thing had already happened, but rather WAVY, adjectival. It's style, as it happens. This, just in: we're bringing INTERSEXY back, stylishly surfing the vibe in language, gesture and flesh. This is the attempt, any-ways: mecha butterfly generator modules, malleable and moving — from organic to network and back again. And forth again. Not solid like a metro-gnome but rather fluid, MUSICAL, rocking gently to the tv on the radio or riding out the storm, dominant or submissive, lilting and stuttering with affectivity and affection. And fecking ACTION. You, two, can stylishly surf this wavy potential — all it takes is a little PRAXIS. Just don't talk about it.)

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It is 8:46pm at the nuclear gallery-reactor and a synchronized always-already now in the network. The story will unfold and be told, with the blind spot as zone of political action. Plug in that vestigial tail, mecha butterfly kraftwerker, it's time to go (go (go).

Con-fessional: Tie Your Hair

      –this is the way i used to tie your hair.

      –this is the way you used to tie my hair.

 

Twenty minutes, forty-six seconds.

Go.

20:46, 20:45, 20:44 . . .

A world record attempt in progress. Or a worlding, recorded processually. We begin climbing the stairway to heaven, deliberately, layers upon layers of skin exposed to the sun and the stars.

The sun offers us an illuminating paradox here, does it not? It is diffuse, insofar as it is comprised of a thundering ball of gases whose sum is greater, or more intense, than the individual occasions from which they burst forth. And yet it is concentrated, insofar as its focused and fiery eye burns so brightly that we can scarcely meet its gaze in return.

It is remote, and yet its proximity is what distinguishes it from the other, more distant suns that make their appearance as day turns to night. This proximity makes it our star, and we bear its ecological form of life with equal measures worship and resignation, gladly embracing its potential for organic natality while suffering its moments of burning necrosis.

Can we say the same for the fiery optics that burn in even more proximate ecologies? Diffuse and concentrated, organic to network and back again. And forth again. We are scarcely able to meet their gaze in return — or we invite the suntan, welcoming the rock 'n' roll radio to our tv selves, signalling intently.

The proliferating eye observes our proceedings silently from the corner, reflected back upon itself, circuitous and contagious in this hygienic space of generation. Perhaps worship and resignation are insufficient responses at this level of assembly. Perhaps what is required are malleability and movement.

Still, we climb.

 

19:33, 19:32, 19:31 . . .

 

Con-fessional: Pinkeye

Department of Biological Flow
Pinkeye
2012
sculpture and closed circuit video

 

A program is comprised of ever so many procedures in alignment, ever so many steps. One after the other, there is a linear unfolding to an output or endpoint before looping back to begin again, newly informed. But do these steps have a rhythm?

Plugged in, we race to the finish line, our clock ticking down momentously with each stride taken — two pounds of sem.i/o.tex or a jet pack to the future. Back again, forth again, the rhythm must be located in this feedforward to the network. Steady the oscillations for anthropomorphic recognition, discipline the cadence. The lilting and stuttering will soon return.

Tick, tick, tick . . .

 

      –i tried to prepare you.

      –you didn't prepare me for this.

 

18:37, 18:36, 18:35 . . .

 

Con-fessional: Switch(ed)

 

It is difficult to locate a disciplinary cadence when one is surfing the societies of control. ("The rules of the game are on hydraulic footing and don't quite have their sea legs yet — or maybe never.") Step, step, step, but the ground shifts imperceptibly underfoot, or violently, as it were. A stairway to heaven on wheels, rocking to and fro: keep one's centre of gravity firmly in the middle and radiate the flesh beyond. There is no athletic stance to be found here, for an upright (im)posture is essential when climbing the stairs, recognizably. Duchamp recognized this as well: there is a verticality to the diagonal passage no matter which direction one is travelling, stairway to heaven or highway to hell.

Rhythm stabilizes this freewheeling journey in time, leaving only minor correctives to the micromusculature of our anthropomorphized anatomy. Platformed, informed, the program begins to take shape as the saturated curiosity of the assembled swarm gradually yields to a collective realization.

Realize. Real, I's. You see it unfolding, but here at the punctum caecum ēlectricus the witnessing bubbles up from deep in the flesh.

(Can you outrun the reel eyes?)

 

14:40, 14:39, 14:38 . . .

 

Con-fessional: Knives

 

Scene: "I SEEK YOU" (Take Two).

Cut to black.

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the tiny pair of household scissors. Resume climbing, seek the rhythm anew. Trim a wire here, a wire there: snip, snip. Off course, the cutting body begins to lilt and stutter with these unusual gestures. Pause. We must resume, rhythmically, that is the program. There it is. Begin cutting again, fold the lilt and stutter in with the backbeat and make those fingers move. The mecha scissorhands butterfly continues to snip, snip, snip.

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the small pair of garden shears. Resume climbing, seek the rhythm anew. (oops, that wave almost got us!) The Armourlite power cable is choking, coiled around the body like a slim anaconda, constricting breath. Still stepping, the snipping yields to snapping, a cracking knuckle of a cut that begins to relieve the pressure. And then another, whose recoil this time attempts to throw the rhythmical body askew. Or a lilt now back on track, shedding the metallic anaconda as if an old snakeskin, revealing another layer underneath. Breathing easier now. Breathing more heavily.

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the barbecue knife with the nine-inch blade. (9 inches!) Long and slender, its tip splits in two as if the tongue of some flattened reptile forged from stainless steel. Resume climbing, seek the rhythm anew. Don't cut orthogonally into the body; turn the blade sideways and probe with the forked tongue between layers, flickering, before slicing away from the curves on a sharpened-edge stroke. Caress, then cut, but do so quickly: time is running out. Carve away the mecha butterfly exponential accelerator pack, savage smooth the kinoderm layer. Tear them by hand, scatter lenses and corneas and optic nerves all over the floor. I risk irises, and vitreous humours ooze forth into the assembly.

Step off, bitches.

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the Japanese band saw and feel its flimsy tone. Resume climbing, seek the rhythm anew. Paper thin, it appears harmless enough to the naked eye — after all, what danger could paper possibly pose? That is, until one's gaze traces to the affective edge. Dozens of teeth line each side, razor sharp: one imagines a piranha dentata in hand, steamrolled and ready for action. See? Saw. We must turn orthogonal now, but the platform keeps shifting with every stride of leg or of wing. Assume a fuzzy vector as we ambulate: pull, don't push and bow the device. (oops, that slice went a little too deep!) Hack away edgewise at the duct tape articulations, hack away at the insulating mirror layer, hack away at the vestigial tail and its archival pre-tensions. Lilt and stutter with this awkward technique: flash a toothy smile and quickly cut to black.

 

      –where were you when i needed you? you knew what was at stake.

 

5:03, 5:02, 5:01 . . .

 

Con-fessional: I\'ve Been Here Before

Sean Smith and Cara Spooner
A Movement Topology from "2D" to "3D" Space
process workshop
November 17, 2011

 

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the forked knife once again. Though the cut to black layer has been torn open in many places, it clings to us still, wrapping silence around us with a thick darkened film. We pull and pull at the stretchy material and fluid ambulates everywhere from our grip. A crimson motor oil drips from the generator, but the reaction is nearly critical and the machine need only hold fast for a few more seconds to reach the world record.

Wings swing wildly, the lilting is flailing, furiously railing, and still we bipedal the backbitten rhythm. Swivel body, swing knife, to black skin stretched taut. Sharp edge bounces back off of surface intension, harmless, elastic, our effort for naught. Swing again and again, there's no time left for thought . . .

 

0:22, 0:21, 0:20 . . .

 

Step to the stomp to the rhythm to the moment, everywhere . . .
Scrapplets of programming lie scattered, here and there . . .

 

0:10, 0:09, 0:08 . . .

 

Panting and sweating, becoming-human no doubt . . .
Caught in the gaze, we seek a way out . . .

 

0:03, 0:02, 0:01 . . .

 

Ones and zeroes: once again, perhaps finally, we return to lines and circles. Yes or no, on or off, tests and switches proliferate — the irreducible binary coding that seeks to envelop us all.

 

      –running out of time.

      –Running into Time!! ^_^

 

Department of Biological Flow
ICQ (Inverted Cubofuturist Query)
2012
performance
(youtube video - 27:02)

(please feel free to take a piece of the performance home with you.)

 

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

The silence is deafening . . .

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

"Each 'plateau' is an orchestration of crashing bricks extracted from a variety of disciplinary edifices. They carry traces of their former emplacement, which give them a spin defining the arc of their vector. The vectors are meant to converge at a volatile juncture, but one that is sustained, as an open equilibrium of moving parts each with its own trajectory. The word 'plateau' comes from an essay by Gregory Bateson on Balinese culture, in which he found a libidinal economy quite different from the West's orgasmic orientation. In Deleuze and Guattari, a plateau is reached when circumstances combine to bring an activity to a pitch of intensity that is not automatically dissipated in a climax. The heightening of energies is sustained long enough to leave a kind of afterimage of its dynamism that can be reactivated or injected into other activities, creating a fabric of intensive states between which any number of connecting routes could exist." (Brian Massumi)

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

Cut to static (in motion) . . .

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

NOISE.

 

Con-fessional: Intense Zero

 

Zero.

A pregnant 0:00, to be certain — ("there are always two, even when you perceive one, connected) — analog, ripe and bursting at the stitches with intens–

 

the show opens, a tiny slitscan portal to 2046 appears in the distance.

Information Bomb

(contribution to the "depletion design" catalogue, to be published by XMLab in saarbruecken, germany)

Wedding Bomb Collage

window display of bridal fashion store with war figurines advancing
on wedding dress in battle formation (multiple views)
valencia, spain
july 2007

 

Three Bombs

Following his decisive role in the birth of the Manhattan Project and the subsequent American military effort to develop an atomic capacity during World War II, Albert Einstein suggested that in the future the world would need to reckon with three imminent threats: the nuclear bomb, the information bomb and the population bomb. The first had already been detonated as a wartime weapon with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; the second concerned computer technologies such as the Colossus, Z3 and ENIAC, used not only to develop the applied mathematics of quantum theory but also as part of the effort to code and decode encrypted military messages; the third forecasted an exponential explosion of demographic growth worldwide, emerging from an expansionist vision of globalized political economy. Einstein’s hypothesis has become a motif woven insistently into Paul Virilio’s analysis of contemporary society and his war model of urban change. It is an astute conceptual choice for Virilio, since it was in the twentieth century that the implications of light speed and the theory of relativity continually unfolded to reshape social relations from the local community level to that of global geopolitics, punctuated most resoundingly by the twin detonations of Little Boy and Fat Man in 1945, and those of the Twin Towers in 2001.

Traces of these three bombs have dominated Virilio's thought in various ways for the better part of his life. A self-described child of “Fortress Europe” who grew up near the German bunkers that dotted the coast of France during the WWII occupation, he has consistently been interested in how the architectures of war organize space and—particularly since the rise of ubiquitous computing and light-speed connectivity during the past few decades—time. Indeed, for Virilio the questions of speed and time are at the heart of the information bomb and his understanding of its detonation, which we may describe broadly at the outset as those changes in social and political economy wrought by contemporary media and communication technology. According to Virilio, these produce and demand a sort of accelerated and generalized climate of interactivity, analogous to the radioactivity of the nuclear bomb.

Time is key. Virilio's position vis-à-vis the temporality of the information bomb is doubled. On the one hand he views the information bomb as an enduring condition of contemporary telematic societies, with the speed and interactivity of optoelectronic technologies having evoked a radical ontological and epistemological shift in the latter half of the twentieth century that continues today (and in this sense is more consonant with his thoughts on “grey ecology”). On the other hand he describes the information bomb more in the traditional terms of an explosion—that is, as a finite event, even if this event may not be precisely located along the timeline of history.

By way of contrast, when the artist Tom Sherman also speaks of an information bomb, or I-Bomb, he does so in a way that blends both of Virilio's approaches: as a qualitative shift in behavioural, social and commercial patterns emerging from changes in information technology that “exploded” specifically during the 1990s. Using a language of “before” and “after,” Sherman appears to bracket the explosion within the temporal parameters of the popular introduction of the WWW protocol and graphical web browser. Virilio ranges further, meanwhile, entertaining not only more complex genealogies of photography and electric technology, but also, for example, Quattrocento perspective in painting, science fiction-inspired futures scenarios, and Ancient Greek considerations of accidental properties in his critical analyses. The latter is where we shall begin to tease matters further apart, in the precarious middle of a detonation that is ongoing.

That said, the seductiveness of the bomb as motif proves problematic at times since Virilio himself weaves between the traditional understanding of a weapon and his true interest, which is the idea of bomb as a metaphor for the accident that is located within the substance of any technology—the information bomb being the accident of accidents, or the Integral Accident. Semantically fusing the weapon with the accident obscures those aspects of intent and agency required to instrumentalize properties of the latter for creating and detonating a bomb of the former type, which requires a certain degree of pulling apart wires to understand more fully (and hopefully taking care not to inadvertently cut the wrong one).

Dromology and the Integral Accident

Virilio's oeuvre revolves primarily around a “war model” of urban change, driven primarily by questions of speed and a proliferation of visioning technologies inscribed in apparatuses of power and movement. His emphasis on “dromology” (from the Greek dromos, for race or running) is not only concerned with the extreme phenomena of absolute speed in modern societies (Olympic world records, supersonic air travel, fibre optic telecommunications), but also with relative speeds and slownesses understood as thresholds of tempo. In this latter sense we find a resonance with Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's interest in fluxes of movement-intensity as they emerge within processes of deterritorialization and reterritorialization: the control of tempo itself becomes the key qualifier of power and agency in assemblages of bodies, technologies, information-flows and other forms of materiality—as well as the affects they produce. In his war model of change, Virilio offers not only blitzkrieg tank warfare as an example of relative speed's potential contra the sheer accumulation of armoured materiel, but also the invention of aerial photography in WWI, which extended the optical gaze to new geographies for reconnaissance purposes.

Already we see the emergence of what Virilio terms the “logistics of perception,” or the capacity to arrange a (primarily visual) field of sensory experience to produce strategic outcomes, which in combination with the control of tempo described earlier may alter the complexion of armed conflict. And as with the introduction of aerial photography providing intelligence to remote military decision-makers, this logistics of perception increasingly implies strategic action-from-a-distance, manifest at ever-quicker temporal intervals. With the invention of ARPAnet as a distributed communication network following the detonation of the nuclear bomb and the rise of a persistent nuclear threat between Cold War superpowers, the conditions of possibility for a militarized and decentralized global infrastructure began to germinate. In the introduction to his interview with Virilio and Friedrich Kittler titled “The Information Bomb,” John Armitage suggests that the genesis of this military effort has (at least publicly) been supplanted by multinational corporations and their forces of monopolization, for whom connectivity, bandwidth, databases and accelerated rates of information transfer have become drivers of the contemporary economy. Together with military and political actors, this increasingly connected economy has reached a density such that “an unhindered chain reaction occurs around the globe,” a condition ecological insofar as it forces a complete recalibration of space and time—which is to say the environments of dwelling and commerce—for every body (and animal and object) connected to the flows of interactivity.

Virilio's analysis of the rise and spread of optoelectronic technologies figures as a sort of media archaeology of the past half century: television remote control, low-orbit satellite, surveillance drone, videogames, internet, etc.—all demand a certain interactivity that allows messages to travel in multiple directions (contra a one-way broadcast model). When speeds of information transfer accelerate beyond certain thresholds or when vast volumes of data demand ready analysis, however, pressure mounts on cognitive attention spans to perpetuate electronic discourse, shrinking response times to reflex times at the expense of measured reflection. The logistics of perception take a qualitative turn and cede to automated systems. Though Virilio describes the Integral Accident as “an accident which is no longer local and precisely situated, but global and generalized,” we witness its global connectivity and accelerated, automated decision-making become manifest in systemic accidents such as the notorious Black Monday stock market crash of 1987.

These speeds compose not only the material body in its relation to the world, but also the psychic makeup of any individual whose imagined representations are born of lived movement: one's mental picture of Paris, for example, will be much different having walked the city on foot rather than driven in a car. Once we are describing the globalized real-time speed of electronic communication the psychic condition becomes a hyperaccelerated blur (what Kittler might refer to as “eyewash”) that permits no time for sustained reflection. Rather, we become collectively responsive to affects, whether the “joys” of everyday consumption or the numbing traumas of everyday news. Brian Massumi, for example, suggests that with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster we have become psychically raw with trauma, as globalized interconnectivity spreads trauma much further than would otherwise be possible with the local accident. While the earthquake, tsunami and failed nuclear reactor have had very significant catastrophic effects on a localized basis in Japan, the trauma has radiated worldwide with the ubiquity of electronic communications, and that there is perhaps a “half-life” of decay to the affective tone it spreads on this global basis. In this we get a vivid example of Virilio's dictum that interactivity is to the information bomb what radioactivity is to the nuclear bomb.

Bomb as Accident-Weapon

But what to make of Virilio’s choice of the term “bomb” (also in the original French, which reads “la bombe informatique”)? Does this deference to the Integral Accident that is the information bomb not absolve or obscure the elements of intent and agency that foster the design and execution of what we would traditionally consider to be bomb-like? Certainly Virilio does not intend to eliminate intent, but in his articulation of “accident-weapons” the logic becomes a little fuzzy, and so the remainder of this entry will simultaneously attempt to make sense of his words while suggesting original interpretations of the accident-weapon.

While there are certainly naturally-occurring processes that morphogenetically potentiate themselves in the exponential power of the explosion (volcanic eruptions, etc.), the linguistic choice of the term “bomb” implies a modern technoscientific (and decidedly human) agency at work—in other words, the explicit attempt to control and weaponize the accident laying dormant within the science. A bomb is created to be detonated, even if ultimately this detonation remains in potential, as with the case of nuclear “deterrence” scenarios. In this sense, the information bomb becomes a question of design woven together with the complex threads of contingency.

It is important to note that, for Virilio, the accident-weapon is less concerned with the destruction of concrete substances, as with more traditional mortar artillery. Rather, it is moreso meant to be productive, specifically producing the simulacrum of an accident. He offers the example of the graphite bomb, detonated in Serbia during the Kosovo War, which was designed to create an electromagnetic pulse that would render telecommunication capacity inoperable while leaving everything else relatively intact. For Virilio, the Integral Accident of the exploding information bomb is such that the bomb-as-accident-weapon would be indistinguishable from the local accident of an electrical blackout.

Jean Baudrillard's postmodern read of the World Trade Center post-September 11, 2001 views the twin towers under the semiotic of closure: representative of American-style neoliberal capitalism, each turned only to face the other unchallenged on the Manhattan skyline. But the introduction of cameras to this assemblage irrevocably pried the closure open to new intensities and vectors of significance. Indeed, it is precisely because of this dual nature that we can speak of an information bomb rather than simply an event which had been archived. Once the camera is introduced to the architectural form—and most in the 9/11 audience had never seen the World Trade Center in person—any such semiotic closure is opened anew, dromologically-speaking, by the instant replay. The caveat here is that the visual dynamics were reversed: instead of a mediated replay serving to illustrate the preceding live event, we had an anterior replay of a plane hitting a building better preparing us to witness the live event of the second plane making explosive contact. The local accident (“did that plane just hit the tower by mistake?”) shifted to a more globalized accident (Virilio reports many TV viewers who believed they were watching a disaster movie until flipping channels to see the same images on every station), which shifted to the dawning horror of the reality of the terrorist attack.

It was the slowness of the planes that made them a particularly useful weapon that day. As opposed to the truck bombs used at the World Trade Center in 1993, which exploded so fast that television was only able to capture the damage done, the slowness of the airliners on 9/11 allowed one to position a personal videocamera in time to view the plane striking the tower—in other words, to witness the actual event taking place. It was only at this point of supercritical mass that speed accelerated to the absolute real-time of the kinematic image, the nuclear-style information detonation delivering an experience far more tactile and visceral than seeing the rubble after the fact.

Just as we opened our discussion with Einstein’s hypothesis of three bombs (nuclear, information and population), we close with a hypothesis of multiple potential information bombs and their differing shockwaves of interactivity: within the overarching detonation of the Integral Accident, an accident-weapon resembling a nuclear blast and perhaps others, such as the contagion-style transmissions of computer viruses. While Virilio has (perhaps fairly) been accused of retaining threads of an antiquated humanism in his analysis of contemporary society, his explicit focus on questions of tempo and underlying concern with responsibility remains relevant for emerging ecological thinking, even as these brave new networks threaten to accelerate beyond our control.

 

Bibliography

Baudrillard, Jean. The Spirit of Terrorism. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2002.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

Kittler, Friedrich. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Translated by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wutz. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Massumi, Brian. “The Half-Life of Disaster.” The Guardian (London, UK), Apr. 15, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/15/half-life-of-disaster.

Parikka, Jussi. Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses. New York: Peter Lang, 2007.

Sherman, Tom. Before and After the I-Bomb: An Artist in the Information Environment. Edited by Peggy Gale. Banff, AB: Banff Centre Press, 2002.

Virilio, Paul, and John Armitage. “The Kosovo War Took Place in Orbital Space,” in Life in the Wires: The CTheory Reader, edited by Arthur Kroker and Marilouise Kroker, 126-134. Victoria, BC: New World Perspectives, 2004.

Virilio, Paul, and Sylvère Lotringer. Crepuscular Dawn. Translated by Mike Taormina. New York: Semiotext(e), 2002.

Virilio, Paul, and Sylvère Lotringer. Pure War. Translated by Mark Polizzotti. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983.

Virilio, Paul, Friedrich Kittler and John Armitage. “The Information Bomb: A Conversation.” Angelaki 4, no.2 (1999): 81-90.

Virilio, Paul. Desert Screen: War at the Speed of Light. Translated by Michael Degener. London: Continuum, 2002.

Virilio, Paul. Grey Ecology. Translated by Drew Burk. Edited by Hubertus von Amelunxen. New York: Atropos Press, 2009.

Virilio, Paul. Ground Zero. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2002.

Virilio, Paul. Lost Dimension. Translated by Daniel Moshenberg. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 1991.

Virilio, Paul. Open Sky. Translated by Julie Rose. London: Verso, 1997.

Virilio, Paul. Speed and Politics: An Essay on Dromology. Translated by Mark Polizzotti. New York: Semiotext(e), 1986.

Virilio, Paul. The Information Bomb. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2000.

Threnody from the Vision Machine

dsnformaton

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D S NFORMAT ON
Threnody from the Vision Machine
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Sean Smith and
Department of Biological Flow

2001-2046

See and be seen. Interpolate and interpellate. In a gesture of fragility and exhaustion, the Department of Biological Flow considers questions of tempo, intensity and ethics in public space and interrogates opportunities for movement in the contemporary vision machine.

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January 12, 2012
Artlab Gallery
University of Western Ontario

Doors open: 7:30pm
Performance: 8:46pm
'ICQ (Inverted Cubofuturist Query)'

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Exhibition runs until January 26.

Feminist University

(abstract submitted to the "precarious spaces: (dis-)locating gender" conference, hosted by the susan b. anthony institute at university of rochester)

Holey Space (Notebook Study)

Writing the Body: Technics, Gender and the Society of Control

Sean Smith
European Graduate School
Department of Biological Flow

Ingrid Tatyanova
Fine Arts College of Kowloon

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The notion of writing the body has a lengthy history in feminist scholarship, seen for example with such diverse writers as Cixous, Hayles and hooks. In their own unique ways we might suggest each describes practices of writing intensively — that is, of capturing affective thought in as urgent a fashion as possible so that thinking and feeling are no longer easily understood as discrete concepts. In contrast with the book "proper," which is most often understood as the culmination of a long process, the notebook, on the other hand, is usually the beginning of a process — the incipient moment of poiesis when thought emerges from the foldings of flesh relation to find expression in gesture and inscription. One captures thought through writing while it is still felt in the body, challenging any possible understanding of mind-body dualism in the act of recording or making memory prosthetic.

pages stick together at the holes

Increasingly, however, we might also understand the notebook as a site of politics and resistance in the contemporary society of control, with all the precarity that implies. It may offer dramatically different conditions of possibility precisely in how its embodiment enters into movements with other bodies — normative or otherwise — to create space, time and memory. We might describe these gendered technics through the lens of Fornssler's affective cyborgism — not a preconstituted body as such, but rather an always emergent part-subject that becomes individuated as it enters into contingent networks of relation and technique. This paper explores these gendered technics and their affective underpinnings in a performative autoethnography of writing practices, engaging a body of thought that also includes Ettinger, Deleuze, Guattari, Serres and Derrida.

Contact:

Sean Smith
@sportsbabel

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Burn Notebook

[do we have holey space yet, smith asks?]

notes on sporting <em>pire: hybrid form

We have suggested already that Sporting Empire is an aspect of broader Empire, the seductive new vision of global political economy crafted by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, which is constituted by a polycentric and fluid mesh of power featuring nation-state actors in shifting alliances with supranational organizations, transnational corporations, and certain humanitarian non-governmental organizations. No one actor can unilaterally seize power in a globalized world, according to Hardt and Negri, and thus a fluid network of inter-actor relationships emerges to modulate the global political order.

Shifting our analysis of the assemblage from Empire proper to those more particular elements that comprise sporting imperialism allows us to highlight some of the specific governing bodies and corporate organizations that constitute its meshwork of political economy, as well as highlight the competitive interplay between them that is such an important component of Hardt and Negri's analysis. Sporting Empire may thus be understood as those agents of capital and state who, acting both in and out of alignment with each other, collectively move the imperial sporting meshwork along a particular topology through time.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is one such governing body that exerts a substantial influence in the movement of the meshwork, rivaling the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in terms of global sporting power. FIFA and the IOC are constituted by the greatest number of member organizations, directly or indirectly represent the greatest number of athletes worldwide, and host the two biggest sporting events in terms of audience and spectacle, the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

(As an aside, the spectacle and corruption that constitute both FIFA/World Cup and IOC/Olympic Games suggest immediately that neither a single-sport nor a multi-sport approach presents itself as inherently superior in any movement towards a sporting multitude.)

The World Cup is the biggest tournament of the most important sport on a global basis in terms of participation and audience. Years are spent in qualifying rounds before the field is whittled to a final group of teams, representing thirty-two nation-states, that will compete for the title of world's best. Based on the ritual importance of the tournament itself, the television audience it accrues, and the corporate sponsorship that follows, the economic significance of making the tournament's final cut of teams seems substantial. Indeed, for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa each team will be guaranteed $1 million for appearing in the tournament, with overall prize monies totaling $420 million. This is in addition to the economic stimulus that media, advertising and consumable industries would receive in the country of each competing team, based on the extremely popular (and populist) satellite-distributed television broadcast feeds.

So one can imagine the national angst and sense of injustice borne by the supporters of the Republic of Ireland when a handball-abetted pass by France's Thierry Henry to William Gallas for the deciding goal — spotted by the television cameras of sporting spectacle, but not by the match officials themselves — knocked the Irish side from qualifying for the World Cup. They would not make the final thirty-two teams and its opportunity to reach the pinnacle of football capitalism. They wanted justice from FIFA.

A statement from the governing body read: "The Football Association of Ireland today confirmed that it attended an hour and a half meeting, at its request, with Mr Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA on Friday in Zurich. A lot was discussed at the meeting and at one stage the FAI asked if Ireland could be accommodated into the World Cup 2010."

This comment hints more of feudalism than capitalism, the lords of football lands in the FIFA realm being granted audience to plead with the King, does it not?

Courtesy of Getty Images and ESPN.

(prostrate before the king, perhaps, but this is not a post about fisting)

Deleuze suggested as much was possible in 'Postscript on the Societies of Control' (which Hardt and Negri argued further in Empire) — that such hybrids of political economy could create the fluid waves upon which contemporary bodies and subjectivities form and are formed. "The socio-technological study of the mechanisms of control, grasped at their inception, would have to be categorical and to describe what is already in the process of substitution for the disciplinary sites of enclosure, whose crisis is everywhere proclaimed. It may be that older methods, borrowed from the former societies of sovereignty, will return to the fore, but with the necessary modifications" (emphasis added). The sovereignty of FIFA and other governing bodies of sporting imperialism seems manifest as hybrids of earlier forms. This hybrid identity further suggests a fluidity between the terms of relation, which sporting imperialism appears to leverage towards modulating its own form in the service of control. As Deleuze continues: "What counts is that we are at the beginning of something."

(from chapter one in "body+politics: towards a sporting multitude," a work-in-progress doctoral dissertation for the european graduate school of media and communications)

The Imagined Architecture of Homo Transludens

The Imagined Architecture of Homo Transludens: Networked Sport and Affective Politics

(an excerpt, submitted by sean smith to the social sciences and humanities research council of canada post-doctoral fellowship program for a proposed residency at concordia university's sense lab)

Venice Biennale Basketball

Play is a fundamental component of human cultures, one that has infused other structural forms of the society of Homo Ludens, such as art, philosophy and law (cf. Huizinga). Inherent in play to greater or lesser degrees are sets of rules that channel the conditions of possibility for the ludic subject, whether towards a particular goal or in freer forms of expression. But in the contemporary digital age, these rules of play often become more implicitly rules of a computer system, algorithmically and architecturally so. Julian Kücklich suggests that cheating — with Homo Deludens as a strategic figure — is one way to understand such systems, to learn what constitutes their conditions of possibility and opportunities for agency.

Located in the liminal space between these two strategic figures, Homo Transludens is proposed in this program of post-doctoral research as one who navigates the threshold in sport between rules and non-rules — not in such a way as to cheat against one's opponents but rather to find new opportunities for athletic expression at the ostensible boundaries of play. Brian Massumi refers to this threshold phenomenon of relational movement as the style that generates the evolution of a sport. Homo Transludens, then, may be considered the creative figure at play "who most effectively melds with the collectivity, toward its becoming" (PftV, p. 78, emphasis added).

In the context of the Global Village Basketball pilot project, Massumi's style referred not only to the creative expression of athletic bodies on the court, but to the design of the actual playing spaces themselves. While many of the meta-game molecules played indoors in "traditional" gymnasium locations, many others joined the game from municipal parks or playgrounds. One mother used toy baskets and chalk to sketch a scaled-down outline of a full court in her driveway on which local pre-school children could participate. Meanwhile, absent a ball to play with at the Venice Biennale art festival, two artists mimed on video the gestures of a one-on-one competition, using Alexei Kallima's Rain Theorem — a black light installation of a football stadium crowd cheering — as the visual backdrop for the performance.

Venice Biennale Basketball

This capacity to imagine local architectures helped mobilize a collective architecture of the imagination for networking together some of the molecular pickup games that existed around the world. The Global Village Basketball meta-game was an aggregated, yet distributed, net performance of improvised pickup basketball played upon on a smooth patchwork of architectural spaces. In this sense we may consider it to have existed as a line of flight from the privileged structures and spaces of state-organized basketball, temporarily allowing for new biopolitical subjectivities to emerge in a sporting context.