skiing drone

A TV drone flies beside Canada's Erick Guay during the second practice of the men's Alpine skiing World Cup downhill race at the Lauberhorn in Wengen, January 12, 2012. (Reuters)

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"Sony's first video recorders were actually not designed for household use, but rather for the surveillance of shopping centers, prisons, and other centers of power, but through the misuse of army equipment users themselves also succeeded in mutating into television reporters and cutters. Television has since become a closed system that can process, store, and transmit data at the same time and thus allows every possible trick or manipulation, like film or music electronics. And every video clip shows how far the tricks of music and optics have surpassed the speed of film. The pleasure afforded by this technology should not allow two things to be forgotten: the television always also remains a form of worldwide surveillance through spy satellites, and even as a closed information system it still represents a generalized assault on other optical media."

– Friedrich Kittler, Optical Media, p.221

Plant Activation

A Nonsense Lab Artist Con-fessional, Part Two

Con-fessional: Artlab-Retina

2. Plant Activation

Processes fold into processes. Some occur imperceptibly, while some are entered into as a sort of energetic system. Still others require a dynamic generation of their own and a particular machine from which they may emerge.

Suburbia: an idyllic dilation of spacetime for the walking subject, wrought from enlarged optics and ever-efficient motors. But bordering on a pathology, no? One does not require an advanced degree in rhythmanalysis to readily perceive here a qualitative shift in everyday dwelling and commerce. Simply defer one's acceleration and go for a walk. Soak up the affective tones that float in a weird energy field of synchronized motions and petroleum afterthoughts.

It is four months before the experiment will begin. The end of the road seems far off in the distance, yet here it is: the end of the road has come to me. I'm approaching the cul-de-sac near my temporary home for this project, an approach I have made several times already while in residence. But on this evening I perceive it freshly anew: as the tiny neighbourhood street yields to the loop of the cul-de-sac it becomes apparent that I have stumbled upon a mass produced gallery-reactor component in the wilds of suburbia.

Con-fessional: Loop

Is it the mathematical form-as-such of the circle with its ocular connotations that have been perceived here? One suspects not, for I am walking along a tiny pedestrian corridor that connects two of the vast asphault conduits carved for automobile use. I do not take the god's eye perspective — if we could even describe a singular vertex of the gaze here rather than an open field of view — but instead the much less acute angle from eye level on the walking body to street level, which varies ever-so-slightly as I emerge from the pedestrian corridor and approach the bend in the road.

Or is it rather the feltness of a certain intensity that has been perceived and retrieved from the body — a certain history of automobiles turning counterclockwise around the loop, a certain domestic gaze whose radiance converges upon a roughly-described middle, the total assembly a certain pattern that repeats itself throughout the great suburban tracts and lends them an organic homogeneity? This is what I discovered in the wilds, only verified thereafter by checking the proper schematics.

Con-fessional: Gmap

Perhaps we can sample the unique rhythmic energy of this space to generate a boost for our experimental processes? Rather than slowing down in the face of accelerated living, can we attempt to meet speed with speed — at least fleetingly? Ultimately we are not concerned here simply with acceleration-as-strategy, but rather with developing abilities to modulate tempo as necessary. Further, our interest lies with developing a corresponding ethics of such: when to accelerate or decelerate, and how do variously contingent communities organically put these decisions into praxis? How are various techniques transduced? How to plant seeds without growing roots?

Con-fessional: Imago-Missing

Department of Biological Flow
Imago (Kino-Butterfly - Someone Might Be Listening - Lorenz Security Ltd.)


Plants, tempos and cross-pollinating processes: this sounds like an opportunity for mecha butterflies to emerge from the experiential fold. The species Homo generatus lepidopterae makes explicit the energy located within the relation, the movement of bodies between surface and volume, and the potential for strange attraction in the awkward motions of gaited flight.

How to write a program for the mecha butterflies, appropriate to the task at hand, not so gaseous as to become meaningless yet not so solid as to stifle the potentials of contingency? As with any tide of intensity that in-forms, you only get one shot to perform the generation into existence, only one chance to make a first impression.


Department of Biological Flow
Process Machine for Plant Activation (Homo generatus lepidopterae)
(youtube video - 26:39)


[1] The two Department of Biological Flow particles will begin the process at opposite points on the circular orbit. [2] One particle begins walking around the circle counter-clockwise toward the other stationary particle, who holds the relay baton. [3] A camera will serve as the relay baton. [4] When the moving particle reaches the stationary particle it shall bump the stationary particle into motion along the same orbital trajectory. [5] The baton shall be passed backwards each time two particles collide. [6] The orbital velocity shall increase with each revolution until both particles are in motion, at varying speeds. [7] Once both particles are in motion the orbital velocity for either particle may decelerate, so long as the overall energy in the system stays relatively constant (ie. if one particle slows to a walk, the other must accelerate to a run). [8] The performance ends when the plant has been activated.


Con-fessional: Plant Activation

Department of Biological Flow
Process Machine for Plant Activation (Homo generatus lepidopterae)


Suburban fatigued, traces of the performance captured, the mecha butterflies return from the techno-organic wilds to the concrete enclosures of the institutional curriculum — the latter which gets its name from the Latin currere or running. We run in search of knowledge, or at least to generate a certain future potential between us — but how to store the energy? What will the archive bear? What can be folded from one performance to the next, and so forth — embodied, relational, imagined?

Con-fessional: Exhaustion

Department of Biological Flow
coffee, antacid, eye shadow and duct tape on synthetic dropsheet


The finish line just out of reach: fluttering, experimental, exhausted.

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

Black Star

Courtesy of Wikipedia

It is an odd relationality that constitutes this place we call time. I am always learning something.

Did you know that Telstar was the first satellite to relay a live transatlantic television feed? Did you know that Adidas created the official match balls of the 1970 FIFA World Cup, also named Telstar? Did you know that the black and white panels of the soccer ball were designed such that the ball would be more visible on black-and-white television? Did you know that the Telstar ball is designed in the shape of a truncated icosahedron, topologically transformed by the addition of air? Did you know that the truncated icosahedron also provided the lens configuration used for focusing the explosive shock waves from the detonator of the Fat Man atomic bomb? Did you know that Coleco introduced a videogame console designed to be connected to a black-and-white television, also named Telstar? Did you know that the Coleco Telstar used the AY-3-8500 chip manufactured by General Instrument, which dedicated pin number 21 for its soccer game?

the troubled words of a troubled mind
i try to understand what is eating you

i try to stay awake but it's 58 hours
since that i last slept with you
what are we coming to?
i just don't know anymore

blame it on the black star
blame it on the falling sky
blame it on the satellite that beams me home

(radiohead, "black star")

I didn't know either. It is an odd relationality that constitutes this place we call time.

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)

instant karma's gonna get you

On the surface, Yoko Ono's Play It By Trust seems to be a smart and intuitive critique of the simple binary of war-conflict. By painting all of the pieces and squares white and positioning them in the traditional chess game opening formation, she immediately sets up a tension in which we seem to actually be waging war against ourselves. Once an imagined play begins and the pieces commingle (dare we say miscegenate?), they slowly start to lose their identity of standing opposite the other and the game tentatively suggests a metaphor for peace.

In any examination of chess play, however, we cannot just look at matters on the surface. We must admit the contours and perspectives of the volumetric, just as we must admit the unfolding of a particular linear timeframe while play emerges. Imagine this imagined game becoming material — momentarily — and its players using algebraic notation (eg. Nf3) to track the logistics of movement-play on the board, for even in Ono's chess-world the striations of the grid do still exist.

When the coding of the chess game moves almost strictly to the archival databank the pieces and squares cease to possess an "identity" in any traditional sense, save for abstract locational information at discrete moments in time. They do not stand embodied for anything in particular, save the continual generation of the code. As Deleuze would suggest, they have become dividuals.

Since the entire game could be played via notation at this point — which, in fact, is what happens with computer chess — maintaining any relation to Ono's white pieces remains strictly an exercise in sensuality and the act of touching or moving-with in touch. This is the only reason they need remain. Viewed from this perspective, Ono does not show us a peaceful future world in which the binary oppositions of black versus white cease to exist, but rather demonstrates the ultimate uselessness of the material body in its becoming-information. While at a "surface" level seeming to embrace hybridity and one-ness with the other — in the most postmodern, imperial sense put forth by Hardt and Negri — this chess world remains connected, disconnected and otherwise modulated by streams of data, perspectival vision, and the archive.

And so the question we must ask of Yoko Ono stands insistent: is the game being archived? In the contemporary age of "archive fever," is the game being coded, notated, recorded or inscribed, saved, secured — in short, remembered? If there were no hands moving the pieces around the board, but only the pieces collectively moving themselves, would such archiving occur nonetheless — perhaps automatically, as a new form of instant karma?

play it for as long as you can remember
who is your opponent and
who is your own self. (yoko ono)

Or do we refuse the archive? Do we retain tactility? Do we encounter the inevitable confusion once the board becomes more chaotic during middle and endgames? Do we collectively remember and resolve the confusion?

Do we collectively forget and allow certain memories to slip away, or fade to black?

Courtesy of Barbara Fornssler

(thanks to the switch, who is both black and/or white if i remember correctly)