temporarily impermanent

Hopscotch Threshold

immanent.

like a temperature on
one's lips, is the word
not begun inspirating
a whisper of breath
to the sky
nigh expired.

expressed espresso of
quick twitch
flip sprinting
and surfing
the waves of
pedestrian glinting
and slowing
the beat to a much softer glowing,
for laying me lowing .tv dogs radioing,
[or rowing those waves but revisioned for knowing]
and wondering and waiting
and tired.

 
(bergson breeze is still blowing)
 

can third be the number to remember you (bye)?
sport supple gestures in
damp potter's spaces
claymation emerges
from multiplied paces
fastfry fractal relation
on hot blacktop baking
oven fired.

crying wolf. pack well
for timely dilation
braille acupuncture
teletype operator
of gait surfing needles
and coded transmissions
"i love you" net virus
contemplating my status of
wired.

so tired.

my skin is (y)our relation

when samuel morse sent the inaugural telegraph message in 1844, the first words he communicated to his partner were biblical verse:

"what hath god wrought?"

though it is not clear today whether morse was referring to himself or the christian deity, we may discern at least two outcomes that He hath wrought with the advent of electricity-based communication.

first, with electricity He hath wrought an annihilation of the difference between speaking and writing as pure forms: gesture is revealed to be the kinetic substratum that animates both. second, with electricity He hath also wrought a shift from space to time as the primary feature defining our constitution of the commons.

mi casa, su casa

attending the big game in person can be an expensive proposition today; it may also be logistically prohibitive. so where does one watch the game with friends: at the sports bar or in one's living room? or, if the question now concerns time, where does one watch the game with friends: on instant messaging (eg. skype, corporate discussion board) or on one's skin (eg. facebook profile page)?

from volume to surface phenomenon, interaction now more closely resembling tesseraction (cf. mez breeze). if the conference brings together people to the same space, then the surface of the skin has already been established and fixed, its relations mingling within. given the conference in time, on the other hand, we must continue to produce skin with every word spoken. perhaps it is fortunate we are physically numb to the process, muted as it were by the anaesthesia of telesthesia.

not that we feel nothing. the process is always tactile, stimulating: we are always in touch even when we are out of touch. though the skin of the host may be crawling, the massage of the message may be pleasurable indeed.

did your friends invite themselves over? no problem, please stay a while. mi casa, su casa, i'm the king of the casa.

_____

ought one to piss in the living room of the king? no, perhaps not — unless one is caring for the plants or treating a rattlesnake bite. but waterworks sometimes do occur: intensity may loosen the bladder or moisten the eyes; hydraulic thought may break through the dam. the king might hath a small mess on His hands.

how do we understand a gesture of hospitality in this damp zone of surface intension? a house is a skin, material, a piece of property. a house only becomes a home when it is invested by relation.

so what is defended against the tides that may ensue, whether in space or in time: the house or the relation?

Playograph Intersection

Brian Holmes: "It would be nice to know more about how this kind of thing breaks down, fucks up, produces failure, infinite waste, tailspins, wrong information, bad choices and so on."

Good advice.

Playograph Intersection

In the chapter of A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia titled "Micropolitics and Segmentarity," Deleuze and Guattari suggest that "segmentarity is inherent to all the strata composing us" (p.208). They identify three forms by which humans segment and are segmented: binary, circular and linear. "But these figures of segmentarity, the binary, circular, and linear, are bound up with one another, even cross over into each other, changing according to the point of view" (p.209).

Perhaps the figures of binary, circular and linear segmentarity can provide tentative first steps towards locating the fluxes and layers (as well as their mutability according to the point of view) at the nexus of the contemporary urban social and professional sporting cultures in an effort to understand a politics that "is simultaneously a macropolitics and a micropolitics" (p.213).

Jordan Crandall: "Rhythms (paces, rates), movements (micro, macro), and machines (social, psychic, and technical) are networked together and embroiled in processes of embodiment both private and public. They employ relay devices (RFs). These relays facilitate a 'language' based in coordination (over relation)."

Rounding the bases, producing runs. Progressively moving from first to ninth inning to declare the truth of the winner. Crossing the street in conformity with the rectilinear urban grid. Home/away, ball/strike, fair/foul, safe/out. Green light. Red light.

(Yellow light invites a moment of indecision or uncertainty.)

Locating the three different forms of segmentarity is a beginning, but if we are concerned with how the linguistic and immaterial feed back into the micropolitics of the lived everyday and its potential fascisms then perhaps we also ought to be cognizant of the points of intersection, the interference waves, and the oscillations between signal and noise that emerge between and within the binary, circular and linear.

Human players embody the Playograph. Each player receives a feed of a baseball game to their cellphone. As play unfolds, players move from base to base (intersection corner to intersection corner) as if propelled electromagnetically by the Playograph system.

But there is interference or noise coming from the intersecting system of traffic lights, which themselves are codes that give permission to move.

Critical Art Ensemble: "The privileged realm of electronic space controls the physical logistics of manufacture, since the release of raw materials and manufactured goods requires electronic consent and direction."

Which semiotic system does the player obey?

force, field, play

Courtesy of George Lucas and THX 1138Courtesy of George Lucas and THX 1138Courtesy of George Lucas and THX 1138Courtesy of George Lucas and THX 1138Courtesy of George Lucas and THX 1138Courtesy of George Lucas and THX 1138Courtesy of George Lucas and THX 1138Courtesy of George Lucas and THX 1138

Images from George Lucas' THX 1138 (1971)

"The tendency of electric media is to create a kind of organic interdependence among all the institutions of a society, emphasizing de Chardin's view that the discovery of electromagnetism is to be regarded as 'a prodigious biological event.' If political and commercial institutions take on a biological character by means of electric communications, it is also common now for biologists like Hans Selye to think of the physical organism as a communication network: 'Hormone is a specific chemical messenger-substance, made by an endocrine gland and secreted into the blood, to regulate and co-ordinate the functions of distant organs.'"

– Marshall McLuhan, "Telegraph: The Social Hormone"
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Sport in the Wires: Abstraction, Integration, Efficiency

Animation - Courtesy of Prozone

Sport in the Wires: Abstraction, Integration, Efficiency

(submitted to "denoting danger, connoting freedom: everyday life in the [post]global network," an edited collection in the digital formations series at peter lang publishing)

Only a short time after the inaugural communiqué of the Morse telegraph between Washington and Baltimore in 1844, baseball scores were being relayed throughout the burgeoning network of cables around the nation. In turn, the code that was used to relay baseball information was used to power large electromagnetic scoreboards in public town squares, gathering large crowds for a nearly real-time experience of a remote sporting event and setting in motion what has become a multi-billion dollar global sports-media industry. But behind the scenes of the burgeoning sports spectacle, the numerical data that was driving the telegraph communication was simultaneously being used to rationalize performance on the field of play, with early efforts towards this end involving the application of scientific management principles towards improving the output of run production.

An amateur statistician named Bill James recognized that the existing metrics for baseball did not accurately measure true production value and he began to develop new metrics of his own, which he self-published to a growing network of like-minded baseball statistics enthusiasts. But it wasn't until years later that Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane read James' work and realized its potential to discover undervalued talent in the highly competitive professional baseball labour market. While Beane's competitors in Major League Baseball were eventually forced to adopt similar analyses within their own organizations, enterprising managers in other sports also began to investigate with econometric techniques to achieve similar competitive advantage. The difference, however, is that these other sports are generally smoother in spatial orientation (cf. Deleuze and Guattari) and more open-ended in task orientation than baseball. To compensate for these differences, imaging technologies have been added to the efforts to rationalize performance.

The most notable example of this new form of performance analysis may be found in soccer, a sport with few goals scored, few native statistics and few striations of the playing surface. In response to the unique demands of this sport — the most popular and lucrative on a global scale — a system called ProZone provides analytics that measure productivity during a match using eight cameras that surround the stadium to capture all player movement from a variety of angles. These multiple feeds are processed by a proprietary software package that triangulates and tracks each athlete as a unique data-object on the pitch, all without the assistance of any sort of motion capture marker on the athlete's body. Once tracked, managers may analyze variables such as work output and pass efficiency. Given the genealogy of econometric analysis described earlier, the remainder of the chapter examines the implications of the ProZone system within the local network of the stadium, the broader networks of sporting spectacle, and how its abstract diagram implicates cognate areas of production and security outside of sport. Theoretical contributions from Baudrillard, Virilio, Deleuze and Guattari, Massumi, Crandall, Critical Art Ensemble and others will inform this chapter.

Analysis - Courtesy of Prozone

Writing Play Across Space

An extended excerpt from Jules Tygiel's Past Time: Baseball as History, discussing cultural changes surrounding the sport with the advent of the telegraph:

*     *     *
Playograph - Courtesy Baseball Hall of FameThe scoreboards themselves, of course, had already represented a grand advance into the modern era. Instantaneous telegraph transmissions allowed baseball fans to experience games as they transpired. What sportswriter H.G. Salsinger called an "invisible host of fandom" thus shared in the exhilarating local communal experience of gathering for the games, while simultaneously participating in a national rite of autumn. As early as the 1890s communities began to translate these telegraphic reports of baseball games into visual recreations. At the Atlanta opera house, young boys bearing the names of real players would run the bases on a baseball diamond laid out on the stage. In 1894 the "Compton Electrical System," a ten-by-ten foot board that featured lineups listed on either side of a diamond and lights to indicate which player was batting, the current baserunners, an up-to-the-minute ball/strike count, and other information appeared in many cities. After 1905, when the World Series became a permanent fixture on the national scene, scoreboard-watching became an equally entrenched annual ritual. Newspapers erected large displays in front of their offices, attracting crowds numbering in the thousands in large cities, often snarling traffic for many blocks.

In 1906 the Chicago Tribune began the practice of renting armories and theaters to hold the crowds. The indoor setting allowed scoreboards in the major cities to become increasingly more elaborate. In 1912 Madison Square Garden and other venues in New York City presented the Series on a display that moved the balls and players with magnets. Another model, "The Playograph," used a ball affixed to an invisible cord that emulated the course of the ball while white footprints illuminated the path of the baserunners. A Jackson Manikin Board employed for the 1915 World Series showed mechanical athletes that moved in and out of dugouts, swung the bat left- and right-handed, and even argued with the umpire.

For millions of baseball fans, these recreations seemed truly miraculous, enabling them to "attend" games played hundreds and thousands of miles away. "Before many of the thirty-six thousand spectators at the Polo Grounds were aware that the umpire had called a strike on the batter, fans in Denver, Colorado, and San Antonio, Texas, knew that the umpire had called a strike," asserted F.C. Lane. The fan, explained Salsinger, "visualized each man as he comes to bat. [He] 'sees' every pitched ball, closely follows the course of every batted ball." To Irving Sanborn, the crowds in the ballparks were no "more enthusiastically alive to every critical situation or more loudly appreciative of every fine play than those millions jammed into the various halls or thronging the streets in front of newspaper audiences." Some argued that the man in the street saw the game more clearly than fans at the stadium. The ballpark, after all, offered many distractions. Those watching the scoreboard, however, saw only the raw essentials of the game affording them, according to Lane, "a clearer view of what was happening at the Polo Grounds than was possible to a fraction of the fans who were actually present" (p. 66).

*     *     *

As Sandy Stone would articulate a century later in her discussion of phone sex workers, telesthesic forms of communication are fundamentally about moving bodies across space. The action of the baseball game, a relatively closed-action sport based upon discrete encounters between offence and defence as well as segmented movements around a circuit of basepaths, was compressed into packets of code that could be transmitted over the telegraph's connected circuit of electricity.

Similar to Stone's sex workers, who would convert an entire erotics of input culled from multiple sensory modalities to tokens of sound that would then be converted to electrical vibrations before being reconstituted into sound and then multisensory affect, those communicating baseball across great distances would convert an entire spectrum of the sport's outcomes to tokens of alphanumeric code that would then be converted to electrical vibrations before being reconstituted as alphanumeric text, incandescent light, or electromagnetic effect.

There is a difference, however. Any of the exteroceptive sense modalities may be converted and condensed to auditory token form during telephone sex — the sight of a fiery red tangle of hair, the fragrance of one's sexual perfume, the caress of a tongue over this or that erogenous zone — a process that is essentially translative. With baseball, on the other hand, only those discrete actions that may be objectively captured in alphanumeric code were transferred across the wires. There was no roar of the crowd, no smell of fresh-cut grass or gently burning pipe tobacco, no feel of the hot summer sun yielding to a gentle twilight breeze — the process was essentially reductive.

Playograph: writing play across space. But what does the technology of writing play — indeed, what do any of our technologies of ludic representation — exclude from the account?