LKL 5908


Thought-holograms from the Paris of the 22nd century.

The race begins as a point. Mile zero, time zero.

It is a teeming, trembling point, however: 45,000-strong and electric. Anticipatory, the point smudged out along the line it is about to suggest with its quantity of moving bodies. The point cannot be easily contained, even though it has been corralled. The point is a seething mass.

The point is a constellation of data points, actually, Achilles' heels morphed forward in the foot to the shoelaces and their expressive prosthetic transmitters.

As the gun fires to begin the race, this teeming point of running-bodies instantly dilates. There is a bifurcation of time at the very moment the marathon nominally begins, unique for each of the 45,000 strong. Two times: the "real" lived time of the race clock as the overall event unfolds, and the relative time of each moving body — indexed by radio frequency tag — as it finally crosses the start line to officially enter the event space and "begin" the race. Clock time versus chip time, the latter increasingly falling behind the former as one moves back through the corrals to the open entry gate and its unranked hordes.

Only clock time counts for official race results and ratified world records. Chip time does not serve any purpose in the adjudication of race results — at least in terms of authoritative measurements of the complete extension of the course. It seems it exists solely as an apologia to 99% of the runners that they are not the fastest in the world.

Indeed, the sole juridical function that chip time serves concerns the part-event, with its checkpoints and split times and implied paces segmenting the broader context. As Roberto Madrazo reminds us (in the name of St. Rosie of Bostonia), each checkpoint must be crossed in order, from start to finish. And if there are points of failure in this linear process — points at which chip time is not registered, either due to electronic defect, noise or subversion (ie. skipping a checkpoint) — any subsequently successful measurement cannot have been arrived at "too quickly" to be believed.

Madrazo cheated all too well!!

normal distribution curve, marathoning....

The race begins as a point but it very soon becomes a line, or more precisely, a curve. The race is the embodied manifestation of the normal distribution curve spreading out over asphault and concrete and steel and rock. From outliers to six-sigmas to outliers, from swift loping strides at the front of the pack to a mixed cacophony of running gaits and styles in the middle to the plodders who bring up the rear: each mile that passes expresses the modulation of kurtosis and skew as thicknesses of running-bodies.

The x-axis of this normal distribution curve, time, finds its striations also embodied in the race proper. Pace rabbits run with the pack holding signs with a desired race completion time on them (eg. 3h:15m, 3h:30m), embodying that given time and helping foster a rhythmic continuity for the overall machine — or perhaps a discontinuity, if understood in terms of an attractor effect. Time has been striated by the body moving within the statistical figure.

But this normal distribution curve is anything but normal. It is rather quite abnormal — not in the sense of deviant, but in terms of the carnivalesque. Costumes and clusters and chatterings identify the runners at the back of the pack, far back beyond even where the slowest pace rabbits will tread. The moving striation of time has become flimsy back here with the plodders, the affective tone of the topology much different than with the other end of outliers chasing down the finish line. An affective, generative tone still exists back here no doubt, and it is this tone that allows for the flimsy to not necessarily disintegrate, that helps as many of those at the back of the pack ultimately complete the asignifying pilgrimage of the race journey.

And in the middle of the pack, and at the front of the pack.

These are not points nor lines we are describing after all. They are certainly not surface-images, either, no matter how hard Spectacle attempts this reduction. They are volumes, actually. Running-bodies are resonating volumes of muscle and bone and nerve, blood and breath and sweat, psychic vibrations of fleshy affect amplified with the in-between energy of 45,000 other runners and the cheers of encouragement from spectators, who share in this radiance-by-exposure while reflecting a certain amount of energy back into the process.

Each of these runners knows a priori that the muscle and bone and nerve cannot sustain their mutual rhythm for the entire Pheidippidean journey. At some point the body wants to fail. And that seems to be the shared understanding of everyone in the race: once I hit that Wall, I just hope the energy of the crowd brings me home. The "energy of the crowd," again, as two-fold: energy from the shared suffering of the other runners constituting one's several-in-passing, and energy from the abstracted Babel of barricaded and cheering spectators.

It is this collected energy that keeps the running-body moving after it has decided it is no longer up to the task. Individual determination emerges from this collected energy to ignore a certain individually-experienced pain and complete the race.

keep moving.

In contrast with the #occupy movements around the world, who teach us contemporary lessons about taking and holding a space, the marathoners, with their smudged point of teeming mass yielding to a distended statistical curve of running-bodies, perhaps teach us contemporary lessons about taking and holding time.

The politics of chip time prove to be a sham. It is the affective politics of a temporary community running beyond one's presumed limits which reveals new understandings of that most Spinozan question: What can a body do? Points, lines and images play tricks with time: the teeming mass of energy dilates to diffuse an effective tremor lasting a couple of hours or until the very last person crosses the finish line. This elasticity of energy is not due so much to the speed at the front but rather the slowness at the back of the pack. There is an exit strategy to these affective politics, measured out at 26.2 miles, however long that takes.

Though almost everyone has some new understanding of what a body can do, not everyone makes it to the finish line. Lactic acid cramps or dizziness literally collapse the running body in a tragic heap of limbs as the final miles unfold. For some the exit strategy came too late, long after a collective affect could make the ultimate difference. Nothing was left in potential.

Desired exit or no, everyone hurts. The sore limbs are still in discord with the warm psychic vibrations of fleshy affect. A mild narcotic euphoria overcomes the body and most of the pain — the intensive stress-related pain, at least — disappears within hours. The rest lingers in the muscles and joints for the next few days, hinted at less and less frequently as other gestures replace the runner's gait. But it is this pain that consolidates the memory of the event, the living archive of the temporary commons woven from physical and psychic trauma.

Pain remembers pain, after all.

[THX 1138 ~ LKL 5908 :: Chi26.2 = woot!]

lactic acid dream sequence

lactic acidosis

the hotel-stay was yesterday
cycling to Troy and back-again.

Brutalist gearbox phantasy
of tobacco-lube and
threshold-sweat drenched,
teeth clenched
to pink-dress drafting
and aerodynamic headachery.

cycling one-tenth the distance
anticipated, he said later
though i'd never
paced my-self at any rate.
we don't have-time for more
in this screenplay-montage,
and now i'm too awake anyways
so here is the-finish-line
you can see it abating
(don't do it, don't say dream-fakery.)

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.


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


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?

animated suspension

archive soap

the unfinished thought hung
lightly, hauntingly
momentary sophistry

triple coil ankle print
pressed, to pale aarchival skin
burned flesh memory fade
to scorched earth scorned]
slow dance turned
combined and (per)muted
silently uprooted
rhizome blowing gently between the trees
between the breeze

nietzsche and cixous go bicycle riding


the other day i'm in the local cycle repair shop getting my ride worked on when i overhear a sales guy refer to one of the bikes as "she." the customer responds in kind. breathed into existence, as with the great ocean-going vessels of yore or the sleek sports cars of today (or the internet of tomorrow?), "she" becomes that amorphous yet political name of the fetishized vehicular object. gender is there where we are looking for it, no doubt.

(one suspects this is not what nietzsche had in mind when he suggested that one must ride woman like a horse to push through the other side of a western patriarchy.)

but our technologies do not have a gender, at least not one that we can identify as inherently "stable" over time. they rather become gendered precisely in "how" they approach and engage the contexts and contingencies of relation. though there are always material considerations to these contexts and contingencies, gender, too, is amorphous, always outflowing that she-name attempting its capture.

shall we at least play the game? if there is in fact a gender to be located in these objects, it is not in their being-ness as static artefacts but rather in their possibilities for becoming — of literally making explicit the setting forth of change in which we are always already emerging. frances willard, for example, might have also thought of her bike as somewhat of a "she" but this she-name was an expression of collective empowerment and contemporary feminity, of attitude and dirty hands. she wanted to go as fast as the boys, and she did.

do not confuse this with the question of absolute speed, however. it is instead a question of passage. while the biking artefact has changed little over the past century, the choice to bike, like the choice to travel by ocean-going vessel today — the choice to "she" — has now become one of slowness.


"she alone dares and wishes to know from within, where she, the outcast, has never ceased to hear the resonance of fore-language. she lets the other languages speak — the language of 1,000 tongues which knows neither enclosure nor death. to life she refuses nothing" (cixous, 'laugh of the medusa').