Other nonhuman actors play no small role in manifesting the crowd-as-crowd — and by (intensive) extension, the expressive potential of the athletes on the basketball court. The public address announcer, cheerleaders, jumbotron, canned sound effects, in-house music: all of these purportedly exist to "enhance the game experience" for paying consumers.
But it might be more accurate to suggest that they serve to keep an otherwise distracted or exhausted audience in a state of electro-charged readiness for the potential of crowd-as-crowd to become in-formed and activated.
In many cases these are electrically-generated shocks of sound or light that serve to twitch the assembled flesh at regularly programmed intervals, though the gestures and gyrations of the team cheerleaders or mascots may accomplish similar goals in a more analog fashion. The point is less the modality and more the shocks themselves, which unfold as a steady stream of attack on the collective perception of these bodies assembled under the rubric of "spectator".
While they appear at a surface glance to be visual or auditory phenomena, their affective force is rather to be felt as a synaesthetic folding which locates itself in the haptic and proprioceptive. Blink, blink, twitch, twitch: think of a defibrillator that may kickstart smooth cardiac muscle into autonomous, yet directed, contractions — except absent the direct tactile connection of the medicalized jumper cables.
If the role of the in-stadium spectator is increasingly to bear resonant witness to the athletic virtuosity otherwise digitized as television signals for mediated distribution around the world, this electroshock readiness is paramount. Just as the crowd — even one relatively uninformed about the sport in question — can readily spot qualities such as particularly stylish performance or submaximal effort given, so too can the television audience spot a fake. Gestures are not enough. It is obvious to the TV spectator when the intensity of witness response flips from an aggregation of individual reactions to the "crowd" proper as independent and enthusiastic actor. The play-by-play commentary only confirms this in narrative form and completes the affective transfer to whatever potentials exist elsewhere via the telescreen.
The stadium spasms the assembled spectators, in other words, to optimize the readiness potential for the formation of crowd-as-crowd and witness-as-intensity. An electroshock therapeutics framed in terms of entertainment value and consumption, but which is more properly understood in terms of a fuzzy affective labour value and abstract production.
It is in this readiness potential that consumption actually invests itself — this time as sponsorship capital. The relentless stream of attack on the perceptive faculties of witnessing serves first and foremost to coordinate the gaze toward advertising images, whether flat or volumetric. The intensive crowd knows nothing about corporate sponsors, but the extensive aggregate of more or less engaged spectators certainly may: programming meets readiness in this zone of indistinction between the two. If the crowd ends up forming, directing, contracting, then so much the better — but at least the ads will have been viewed during the twitchy interim. Exhaustion, indeed.
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.
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.)
Genuflection. The mechanical fatigue of tendon, muscle, bone is distributed among the masses, and surgery remains predominantly at level of the skin, plastic-Like.
Auctioning a Piece of Post-Season Perfection Highlights Uniform Evolution
By Jason Turbow
October 8, 2012
Categories: Gadgets, gear & games
In 1956, Don Larsen was paid $13,000 by the New York Yankees for a season's worth of work, which included throwing the first (and still only) perfect game in postseason baseball history.
Today, the uniform he wore on that historic afternoon, during Game 5 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, goes up for auction. It is expected to fetch more than $1 million.
. . .
The proceedings . . . will run for 56 days — marking both the year the perfect game occurred, and the amount of time, 56 years, since then — through Dec. 5. . . .
[T]he Yankees' uniform design, alone among Major League Baseball, has seen no significant changes in well over a half-century. . . .
. . .
. . . The Collective Bargaining Agreement now maintains that players' pants not drop below the top of the heel.
. . . Once, baseball players wore white socks underneath colored sanitary hose. The reason: The dye for the stockings, far from colorfast, offered an assortment health risks should it come into contact with an open wound.
. . . (Another stylistic fad into which the Yankees failed to buy included uniform numbers on the fronts and sleeves of jerseys.)
. . . The Yankees continue to be the lone big league club to eschew names on the backs of their uniforms, both home and away, but in 1956, the practice was status quo. That changed in 1960, when the presence of slugger Ted Kluszewski probably made the Chicago White Sox equipment manager sorry about his team’s decision to become the first to so identify players. (It should be noted that the Yankees were the first team to utilize uniform numbers on a permanent basis, in 1929. They assigned numbers according to players' spots in the batting order.)
Larsen has already sold his cap, glove and shoes from that game, as well as the baseball used to strike out Dale Mitchell for the final out. They went in 2002, for a total of $120,750. In 2010, Berra's jersey from the same day sold at auction for about $565,000.
. . .
"The San Diego Hall of Champions already validated it," he said. "In addition, we've done extensive picture matching of historical photos — of the stitching, the interlocking NY, how his name was sewn (stitched inside the uniform for identification purposes, not an external-facing nameplate) in relation to everything else. Honestly, this was probably the easiest match from any jersey we’ve sold because there are so many great images from that game for us to use."