tactile burden

brief lumen pulses
of power law precarity
we gesture the
valent wind

origami mapping
its feathers in moulting
we trouble the
valent word

dandelion breeze
growing orbital bees
we contour the
valent wave


a word,
a thought,
biting the skin
of my approach to us,
twice shy.

dentistry, of all things

rose petal bathing
on the freckled memory trace,
the operatic voice
gnawing. hold my hand to
our heart's trebled pulse

thick sweaty breath
weeps my evening happiness,
a heavy Mist diffused,
circles of red dress eyes
to wipe the misty mourning dawn.
bitting and byting our way
back to the network

and then a flight


bzzz . . .

zzz . . .

. . . : . . . : . . .


imago garden

no  (no    (no        (no)

earth-bound echo
plainfully so.
Spring runoff savoured,
poetically though…(t).
Scorched burning swollen
to quicken the slow
lavaglass coolant to sweet
honeyed flow turns
scorched amber pendant
worn slenderly so.
Butterscotch trace
of thirst afterglow. Sewn from afar
to each moneyed row (by row  (by row)
moulted, hardened

mon santos

* * *

(part of "mon santos! my farmville is burning!" [2011], by department of biological flow)



The Department of Biological Flow cordially invites you to:


A play in three acts.

April 28, 2011

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

In biology, the imago is the last stage of development of an insect, after the last ecdysis of an incomplete metamorphosis, or after emergence from the pupa where the metamorphosis is complete. As this is the only stage during which the insect is sexually mature and, if it is a winged species, has functional wings, the imago is often referred to as the adult stage.

Imago is Latin for "image".

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Act One. "Kino-Butterfly"
   emergent from "The Butterfly Project"
   a public performance work with Tara Ostiguy and Cara Spooner
   @ Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto

Intermezzo. "Gait Surfing III"

Act Two. "Someone Might Be Listening"
   @ 'Techosapien' - OCADU Wearable Technologies student exhibition

Act Three. "Lorenz Security Ltd."
   @ 'Fashion/Unfashion' - Toronto Alternative Arts + Fashion Week

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Attire for the evening will be faux kino-gait.

track, cycling

Courtesy of CP1 Contemporary

Courtesy of CP1 ContemporaryCourtesy of CP1 Contemporary

Google Maps
Olympic Velodrome and Pool (Berlin)
satellite image

Dominique Perrault
Olympic Velodrome and Pool
1992 | 1999
Berlin, Germany

. . . . .

from the CP1 Contemporary exhibition
Speed and Politics: A Tribute to Paul Virilio

hanna (2011)
movie trailer
(youtube, pause at 0:55)

"The level of connotation of the visual sign, of its contextual reference and positioning in different discursive fields of meaning and association, is the point where already coded signs intersect with the deep semantic codes of a culture and take on additional, more active ideological dimensions. … Codes of this order clearly contract relations for the sign with the wider universe of ideologies in a society. These codes are the means by which power and ideology are made to signify in particular discourses." — Stuart Hall

On Massumi's Logic of Relation: Players

In the last section of our analysis on Brian Massumi's logic of relation he asks us to consider the ball as a part-subject that catalyzes the vast field of potential that is the soccer pitch. It is the ball that reconfigures the field of potential while movement plays out or unfolds, since the players continuously move in response to its displacements. Susken Rosenthal's pencil drawings are interesting in that they make the autonomous agency of the ball explicit by tracing its movements around the pitch during the course of a soccer match. One notices the relatively straight lines that collectively express the displacements of the ball, but also the quite angular vertices showing where the ball changed direction with a well-placed kick.

Courtesy of Susken Rosenthal

susken rosenthal
germany vs. romania
from the complete series "em 1984"
n.8 of 17 pencil drawings

As Deleuze and Guattari suggest, we must put the tracing back onto a map: Rosenthal helps us imagine, in other words, precisely how the vectoral movement of each linear segment reconstitutes the entire field of potential by catalyzing the rearrangement of the twenty-two other athletes on the pitch as ball and player come together in relation to change once again. But Rosenthal's sketches take the perspective of the remote gaze: where is the affective body to be found? One presumes down at the surface of play, though it is not clear from Massumi's analysis:

If the ball is a part-subject, each player is its part-object. The ball does not address the player as a whole. It addresses the player's eyes, ears, and touch through separate sensory channels. These separate sensory impressions are synthesized not into a subjective whole but into a state of intensive readiness for reflex response: they are synthesized into an actionability. The response is expressed through a particular body part — in the case of soccer, the foot. The ball addresses the player in a limited way, as a specific kind of actionability flowing through the player's body and following very particular channels. The kick is indeed an expression, but not of the player. It is an "ex-pression" of the ball, in the etymological sense, since the ball's catalysis "draws out" the kick from the player's body and defines its expressive effect on the globality of the game. The player's body is a node of expression, not a subject of the play but a material channel for the catalysis of an event affecting the global state of the game. While the ball is a catalyzer and the goals are inducers, the node of expression is a transducer: a channel for the transformation of a local physical movement into another energetic mode, that of potential energy. Through the kick, human physicality transduces into the insubstantiality of an event, releasing a potential that reorganizes the entire field of potential movement (Parables for the Virtual, p.73).

The separate sensory impressions an athlete perceives are not synthesized into a subjective whole, true, yet Massumi seems willing to suggest just such a reductive approach for the actionable body from which these sensations are produced in the first place. At best for him, a player's response "is expressed through a particular body part," and at worst the player becomes an intensive "node of expression" or point that moves about the pitch, perhaps no better than what we might find in Rosenthal's drawings or in 3D visualization and match analysis systems such as TRACAB (with its military genealogy).

Courtesy of Paul Pfeiffer

paul pfeiffer
four horsemen of the apocalypse (6)
digital duraflex print

Expression cannot be considered simply the point of contact a player makes with the ball, a point that Paul Pfeiffer's image from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse series helps make explicit. By digitally removing the ball and other players from an archival photo, we see that expression is not simply in the hand that may or may not defensively reject the ball from finding the goal. It is also in the line that runs from left wrist down through the armpit and to the left waist. It is in the left leg lifted slightly higher to compensate in balance for the weight that has shifted to the right side. It is in the absolute fullest possible extension of a body whose everyday being-in-the-world is normally folded in some way (by sitting in a chair, driving a car, operating a machine, or slouching in gait). In short, expression is to be found in the entire range of contours seen from the body that collectively make contact with the ball.

(As an aside, this bodily expression need not "fulfill" a biomechanical function for it to modify the field of potential. When Michael Jordan's tongue would involuntarily hang lolling from his mouth during a foray to the basket, one knew some bad-ass shit was in the process of unfolding.)

It is the ball that draws out an expression from the performing body, perhaps, but does the performing body not also draw out an expression from the ball? Or can we at least suggest that the virtuosity of the player's expression remains incomplete if the ball does not in some way fulfill the expression initiated?

Returning to soccer, consider the infamous "scorpion kick" performed by Colombian goaltender René Higuita in an international friendly match against England. A shot is arched towards the goal, which Higuita sends away by falling forward, arching his back, and kicking his legs over his head as if describing a scorpion's tail. Kalle Jonasson describes this in a trajectory of becoming-minor or deterritorialization, but can we not be more precise with Deleuze and Guattari's concepts and refer to this as a becoming-animal? And not simply because of mimicry — after all, no scorpion jumps in the air to sting its prey — but because of the deterritorialized body codes of the soccer goaltender to which Jonasson refers.

Courtesy of Google

The goaltender is the only one who is actually allowed to use his hands during the game, and yet Higuita chooses to clear the ball with his feet — in other words, to opt for contact rather than grip. And we are not describing a straightforward kick, either, but rather a blind kick in which the legs arch backward over the head to redirect the ball with the heels. This entire gesture begins with the deterritorialization of the game rules and generally accepted codes of conduct, only becoming scorpion through the entire body at the moment of contact with the ball.

The gestural contours of the body are so striking, however, precisely because of the expression they collectively draw from the ball: a perfectly arcing volley extending the sting of the tail out past the penalty area. Higuita's becoming-scorpion is only completed with the expression of the ball. If the ball's expression had been any different, if it had glanced off the side of Higuita's foot and trickled to the corner or, heaven forbid, gone backwards into the net for an own goal — anything but the perfectly symmetrical arcing volley — then the scorpion gesture would have remained incomplete and looked foolish in the world of men.

But because the ball's expression was so virtuous in its own right, because its flight was so true, we can suggest that this "minor literature" of the gestural language was that of a becoming-animal. And with this gesture comes a small moment of rupture in which the other part-object players on the field split their attention, pausing ever-so-imperceptibly to bear witness to this unusual act of creation before tracking the displacement of the ball once again.

The ball's part-subjectivity seems to exist as a valence that fluctuates given the relative distance from any particular player at any moment in time during the game. As that distance closes, subjectivity momentarily flips to the player in question before the ball is redirected and its agency restored. There is a difference between the two, however: the poiesis of the athlete lies in the intellect of the gesture and its expression through the entire body, while that of the ball is purely a servomechanistic expression of work or produced force and a semiosis of sponsored product design.

Intensionality (for Jean-Luc Nancy)

On Performing the University of Disaster, Part Four

Those in the spy game know that the situation is anything but binary. It is never so simple as Good Guys versus Bad Guys, East versus West, or Christianity versus Islam. There is a whole panoply of actors involved in any particular crisis, and the successful spy needs to be familiar with them all: governments and corporations and celebrities and madmen, each with agendas that more or less align with the others.

Of course there are other spies as well, whose relations and alliances multiply and decay as the tides of contingency wash through and back again. There seems to be a unique valence to any thread of relation, and it is in the spy network that these multiple valences are most in flux. It is a precarious thing to be in relation with other spies, any one of whom might be willing to help you or kill you, kind of, sometimes.

James Bond is never taken by surprise when a co-conspirator of his turns out to be working for one of the other sides. He simply knows, as if it was scripted, and all of a sudden flips into action — bashing an intruder in the mouth, leaving a perpetrator bound and gagged, or suggesting that uniquely hostile and aggressive sex only a flashing hatred for the other can produce.

But the Spy doesn't know: these codes and overcodes can be tricky things. How does he parse any particular message received from Agent 99? Does Homo Generator (or any of his henchmen) come into question? Blohard or Elektra King, Dr. No or Octopussy? Whom to trust?

Can he trust the Colonel?

Binary Relation

Brian Holmes is familiar with these reversals of power. Though not of the university, he knows of disaster. But of course the university is not a simple binary either, there being many colours on the spectrum of pedagogy bound by inside and out. It is somewhat like his relationship to space: he maps existential territories as if seen from above by some flying bird or drone, but works resolutely at the ground level so that colourful spectrums of possibility may emerge in between. He, too, flips into action.

What about time? Can we locate the temporal on a spectrum as well? Perhaps not a spectrum, but rather a folding. Holmes points out that the eye in the sky is only able to see so clearly and readily if all the subjects it surveys are synchronized to its atomic clock. In fact all cybernetic systems are crucially dependent upon different concepts of time: circular time, linear time, just in time — each variably folding into the other to accomplish a particular end. There is a moment in which these different concepts meet, however, when one does not know which system constitutes the particular moment. It is the tangent, or the touching of the eventedness of time.

Overcode Blur

What is the next wave that Kondratieff forecasts for us? Clearly it is to finally collapse the partition allowing us to maintain an illusory binary between organic and technical-prosthetic. The endocolonization of the human body by capital moves inexorably toward its tipping point. But we witness a reversal in that the healthy disciplined body has run through the mills of assembly line and network economy to become the sickly lipidinal and libidinal motor of the contemporary age.

This only partly describes the coming wave of capital expansion, however. Any movement to colonize the body on a planetary scale — which, to be sure, will become manifest with a variety of technologies and modes of coercion — must be accompanied by a parallel movement to colonize relation. Capital needs to insinuate itself into every conversation so that the singular body may be more fully laid bare for corporate invasion. Only through the spectacular SPECTRE of desire and death can life become so profitable — and for profits to be maximized both production and consumption must be priced by the valences of the network, or what we call relation.

Thus while we see the antagonism of the labouring body move from the musculo-skeletal to the central nervous system to the micro-memory coding modules of DNA, in the parallel movement to colonize relation we must similarly code the spectrum of in-between located in the trans-subjective. And here is where we locate the one binary that is irreducible, for relation as understood by capital expansion today is distilled via systems analysis and statistical method to the ones and zeroes of the machine. Embodied poiesis is always already compromised by the digital form, while synchronicity exists as the tangential touching that tracks these skins in relation.

Build the machine to kill the machine, if you so desire. (But did you remember to kill that machine?)

Desiring Machine

For Bond, memory is a series of flickring images of Aston Martins or Alfa Romeos or whatever vehicular object vectoral capital is sponsoring that day. (He does not remember if Fiat was part of said flickr stream.) The Fordist dream of Detroit and America™ meets the spectacular relic of its imperial predecessor, manifest in the sexy phallogocentrism of MI6. For the Spy, on the other hand, memory possesses a different consideration of movement and speed. Rhythm and tempo are more readily apparent, the eye more in balance with the sense perceived by the rest of the body.

Just then a stranger bumps into him in a crowded room, a slip of paper is pressed into his palm. It reads:

I will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering, which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its lining. We do not remember, we rewrite memory much as history is rewritten. How can one remember thirst? (46.112226, 7.930622.)

Courtesy of Google

The Spy finds himself in a chance(?) rendezvous with a top strategist from the University of Disaster, as the two meet simultaneously at the bottom of the hill for the arduous trek to the briefing room. This man is the embodiment of the technopolitical trajectory envisioned by Virilio: transportation, transmission, transplantation. Deep in his heart this man understands alterity: he understands the massive machinic apparatus of medico-capital and the subtle modulations of code that keep him alive. The double agent thus finds himself walking with the agent, doubled.

This man does not communicate his alterity to the Spy. In fact, the two barely speak at all: the young agent translates to French poorly, and his Philosophy is even worse, while the older agent performs an emergent calculus that economizes every breath not for the trivial matter of chatter, but rather for the art of locomotion itself. He refuses the bond of the motorized chariot that would surely transport in regal fashion one with so many stars and stripes invisibly inscribed to his uniform lapel. He will not allow himself to be imprisoned by his own body.

(In basic training for any secret agent about to enter the field of potential, the first lesson one learns is that such traps are everywhere to be found. The question is where. The question is when.)

Each individual's walk becomes a labour as they trundle forth on their Sisyphean quest. For one it is simply to persevere, while for the other it is to slow down and renegotiate relation. Both processes unfold as pain. But while time is experienced differentially by each man, simultaneity has now become a synchronicity: the two communicate in Philosophy after all. It is a coded form, no doubt, with not a solitary word having been spoken.

If I understand anything of your thought, sir, it is born of that flesh relation and the tension of non-touch between our bodies turned inward to kindle a fire.

Courtesy of Ryan King

Trusting his instincts, the Spy writes a report to the Colonel. He takes the standard Field Operations form provided by the Agency, flips it over, and writes on the smooth open expanse that is the back of the page. He writes intensively — for how can one remember thirst otherwise? He invests his whole body into his writing so that perhaps she, too, will understand a coded Philosophy with not a solitary word having been spoken.

(thanks to all those who helped reprogram toronto version 2.0 and make it even more cryptic)