Electroshock Therapeutics

shock

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.

shockshock

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.

eye spot the law, and the . . .

nfl instant replay

with the assistance of instant replay, the media announcers of sports spectacle often modulate the rule of the referee (and the Law) — at least in the court of public opinion. which is then also to say in the boardrooms of vectoral capital, where the Law is written. the referee here should be understood as a chimera of policeman (the whistle) and judge (the penalty meted).

this modulation of the rule is three-fold: first, "bad" calls made in real time which the television broadcast instant replay shows to be wrong after the fact; second, the use of video review as a training tool by officials themselves; and finally, the introduction of instant replay during games as a means of adjudicating the Law itself.

concerning this latter use of instant replay in adjudication, it may be initiated in one of three ways: the coach (a complainant), the referee (policeman and judge), or the league (vectoral capitalists whose governance system writes the Law).

the NFL, for example, has a limited number of coach's challenges that use instant replay, as well as certain rules codified by the league in which all instances must be reviewed automatically (eg. touchdowns in the final two minutes). to my knowledge, there are no situations in which the referee has the discretion alone to initiate an instant replay review.

in the NBA, on the other hand, the referee may initiate an instant replay review, though under a discretion limited to certain categories of instances — such as "important" out of bounds calls. there are no coach's challenges, but the league still mandates certain categories in which all instances must be reviewed — such as buzzer-beater shots at the end of any quarter.

the Law constitutes the rules of the game, in other words, but also the rules that govern a league, which are different, though unrelated things. it isn't the rules that are under dispute in any particular ludic case, but rather the plays themselves and their provisional judgements (the differend). it is the play that is being reviewed and the play that has become problematized by television and spectators.

these human policemen and judges are fallible, and sport is a game. its "objectivity" is ambiguous at best, and moreover a product of modernity. instant replay was not brought in at the outset to remedy those "imperceptibles" of human vision and judgement, but is rather a byproduct of television and the subsequent flows of public opinion, nielsen ratings, etc., it produces.

a 21st century portrait

a 21st century portrait

politics in a time of obsolesced war

NFL Ref Mixed Signal

"So why is the disappearance of the fullback significant, then? The American military-industrial complex is at its core a technological apparatus. As such, we have seen its military superiority derived from its scientific innovation, rather than from any inherent superiority in its trained personnel. This innovation, as integral as it has been to American society, should appear in the model of gridiron football. Put another way, if the football-war metaphor is to hold true, it is because the NFL depends more on fighter jets than on ground infantrymen. The disappearance of the fullback in favour of more passing threats suggests that this is in fact the case." (sportsbabel, Oct. 2003)

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"There's a reason ESPN's 90-minute SportsCenter that followed Monday Night Football did an astonishing 4.5 rating (the highest SportsCenter rating in 17 years, by the way) . . ." (Bill Simmons, Sept. 2012)

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"We'll get the real officials back thanks to the gravitational pull of the money bet on U.S. football. Because the most lucrative random numbers generator on Earth, the NFL, needs every game to be played on the square. Even the appearance of a fix could send the planet wobbling into the sun. And given sufficient incompetence, the appearance of a fix was inevitable. That's what happened Monday night in Seattle. This wasn't about integrity or love of the game or player safety or the fans or even the quality of the product on the field. This was about a game so poorly officiated by scabs that sportsbooks were refunding money—because an NFL game looked crooked." (Jeff MacGregor, Sept. 2012)

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"The farce is that the NFL owners are so isolated that they can’t see that everyone wants the union refs back, even the Governor whose political fortunes are underwritten by right-wing, anti-labor billionaires: Wisconsin's Scott Walker. Yes, that Scott Walker. The same governor who waged war on union teachers and firefighters without care for the social costs, wants his union refs back. Late last night, the Green Bay Packers fan tweeted, 'After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful. #Returntherealrefs.' The gall of Scott Walker possesses the power of a tsunami." (Dave Zirin, Sept. 2012)

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"In the model of contemporary gridiron football, we retrieve the stadium games of Ancient Rome as well as the feudal-political model of chess, albeit both in modified form. While the stadium games of Ancient Rome often were re-creations of land and sea battles significant to the history of the Roman Empire, modern football, by contrast, is entirely in simulation: every play in every game models or describes a battle that has yet to take place — right down to the level of simulated death. The articulation of these battles is extremely accelerated, as if played in fast forward. Though an entire game of chess is based upon just one battle — a mobilization of Church, nobility and serfdom to protect the King — a football game models a battle on every play from scrimmage, with the sum of these battles allowing a team to capture or surrender territory, reach objectives, and eventually win or lose the contest/war sixty minutes later. We'll call it temporal dislocation in the former case (ie. the shift from archive to simulation), and temporal compression in the latter (ie. many discrete battles in one contest)." (sportsbabel, Nov. 2005)

faster!

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)

- - -

"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

I Seek You: Countdown to Stereoscopic Tear

A Nonsense Lab Artist Con-fessional, Part Five

"For a long time I thought, in a kind of ignorance, innocence, lack of knowledge, that I wasn't the author of my texts but my unconscious was their author — without counting the innumerable other authors of my texts! Observing language's soaring and moving autonomy, I used to tell myself: it's not me who writes this, it's the Night. I was very disturbed. I used to wonder if it weren't a reprehensible act to let go of the reins, to allow oneself to be carried away, and at the end to sign one's name. Well, I hadn't yet measured the extent to which this source, this energy, was present in several other texts. Because dream is textual energy: our personal nuclear energy."

          — Hélène Cixous

 

"Now, I-woman am going to blow up the Law: a possible and inescapable explosion from now on; let it happen, right now, in language."

          — Hélène Cixous

 

Hanna - Once Upon A Time

October 5, 2011, 12:32pm, near Surfside, FL: Walking to school I saw a monarch butterfly appear out of nowhere. Awkward flight — surfacevolumesurfacevolume — it began to venture out over a major four-lane artery. Halfway over the turbulence was too much and it flew crazily all over the place before pulling a 180, executing a neat glide back to my side of the road, and landing on a flower, orange on purple. Nice ride, dude.

 

 

5. I Seek You: Countdown to Stereoscopic Tear

Twenty minutes, forty-six seconds.

A solitary mecha butterfly flies, flitting and dancing autonomously. And yet it remains multiple, beginning again and again in different contexts and contingencies, multiplying and plying its trades, trading in one identity for another and another, darting and circling or eddying back anew. Schizoid origins, all schizzes and flows and currencies written in bright splotches of colour and retinal afterburns.

We fly, afterburners at the ready.

The temperature rises. Every splotch burns deeper, oenological summons or niacin flush — or perhaps it is a feltness of the years and months elapsed, of the minutes and seconds finally folding into the intensity of the now. Stabilize the shrieking skins and run the program: our nuclear gallery-reactor is operational and the mission is a go (go (go).

Vortically yours, we are drawn to the reaction, inexorably, as if insects drawn to some sort of bright light or pungent concentration of pheromone. To the eye of the storm we venture. The institutional corridors force upon us a sort of linear transit model — a becoming, in grid — but it feels all circling and circling from here, accelerating with every passing moment, tightening like a noose or an umbilical necktie or yards of duct tape bondage and their sticky articulations.

Concentrate. Con-fess. The time is finally here.

Con-fessional: Blast

 

Twenty minutes, forty-six seconds.

Isn't it quite amazing how the appearance of a butterfly can inject a stutter or pause into any conversation? Words and words pour out of the animals in assembly, before they are all of a sudden arrested by the passing flight. Heads turn to trace a lilting poetics, attempting to close the distance with this seemingly awkward beauty. There are no straight lines here, only a relative arrival and departure to bracket a brilliant and bewildering trajectory, surging and lurching in a vibrating and nomadic line avant la lettre.

Then a fractional silence — after which the conversation resumes, altered irrevocably. Jolted, perhaps we forget what we were discussing, perhaps the topic changes or opens anew. Here one moment and gone the next, a becoming made explicit in colour and motion, the lilt and stutter entwining and embracing in some other conversation, fluidly, elsewhere and elsewhen.

Con-fessional: Accelerator Pack

 

Does the mecha butterfly effect a similar microseismic shift upon its entrance? Are the animals entranced? One cannot be certain, though the silence appears pregnant to us in the approach.

It is an anthropomorphic approach, no doubt, a strategic becoming-human of Homo generatus lepidopterae that slows our gaited flight down to the pace of recognition. Hideous beauty, all technological vision and semiotic layering and torn wires, rendering. Machinic. Curvaceous. A coiled vestigial tail trails suggestively in our wake, amplifying the incipient energetics of a body in motion. This weak objectification offered in passing to complement those interwoven schizoid subjectivities we bear — it would all be laughable if the scent of death didn't waft hauntingly betwixt every breath that yawns itself open.

Don't object just yet. Take pause. It will all become quite necessary in due time.

 

      –i think my water just broke.

      –hydraulic thought?

      –labor!

      –aren't you a little young for that?

      –i'm ready.

 

We enter the inner core of the nuclear gallery-reactor. It is a hygienic space, as befits any locale in which surgical operations are to be considered, or in which microknotted entanglements swell to the degree of anxiety. There is no turning back at this point, no time for pauses or reconsiderations — nor would a program or mecha butterfly desire such possibilities in the first place. Expectation, anticipation: these are what hang thick in the air like a field of static electricity awaiting discharge. All we require now is a sort of touching to make manifest the shock potential.

Future shock — potenza.

Con-fessional: Imago-Masks

Department of Biological Flow
Mecha Butterfly Soundsystem and TBA (Teneral Breath Assistant)
2011
mixed media

 

Over here, the ghostly traces of movement research, beckoning questions as if nectar on the lips of an orchid. Walking the city streets or as pen put to paper, dancing the creative keyboard nightclub. The archive performs itself anew.

Over there, the memory generator module, felt and remixed, malleable and moving — from organic to network and back again. And forth again.

Con-fessional: Forensic Itch

Sean Smith
Forensic Itch
2012
mixed media installation

Department of Biological Flow @
Generating the Impossible
Sense Lab, Mekoos/Montreal
July 2011

(please feel free to use the tools and materials provided to modify or edit the work in any fashion.)

 

- - -

(And forth, again. FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM means don't talk about it, animals — that's the first rule. But here's a hint: it's not a wave, as if such a thing had already happened, but rather WAVY, adjectival. It's style, as it happens. This, just in: we're bringing INTERSEXY back, stylishly surfing the vibe in language, gesture and flesh. This is the attempt, any-ways: mecha butterfly generator modules, malleable and moving — from organic to network and back again. And forth again. Not solid like a metro-gnome but rather fluid, MUSICAL, rocking gently to the tv on the radio or riding out the storm, dominant or submissive, lilting and stuttering with affectivity and affection. And fecking ACTION. You, two, can stylishly surf this wavy potential — all it takes is a little PRAXIS. Just don't talk about it.)

- - -

 

It is 8:46pm at the nuclear gallery-reactor and a synchronized always-already now in the network. The story will unfold and be told, with the blind spot as zone of political action. Plug in that vestigial tail, mecha butterfly kraftwerker, it's time to go (go (go).

Con-fessional: Tie Your Hair

      –this is the way i used to tie your hair.

      –this is the way you used to tie my hair.

 

Twenty minutes, forty-six seconds.

Go.

20:46, 20:45, 20:44 . . .

A world record attempt in progress. Or a worlding, recorded processually. We begin climbing the stairway to heaven, deliberately, layers upon layers of skin exposed to the sun and the stars.

The sun offers us an illuminating paradox here, does it not? It is diffuse, insofar as it is comprised of a thundering ball of gases whose sum is greater, or more intense, than the individual occasions from which they burst forth. And yet it is concentrated, insofar as its focused and fiery eye burns so brightly that we can scarcely meet its gaze in return.

It is remote, and yet its proximity is what distinguishes it from the other, more distant suns that make their appearance as day turns to night. This proximity makes it our star, and we bear its ecological form of life with equal measures worship and resignation, gladly embracing its potential for organic natality while suffering its moments of burning necrosis.

Can we say the same for the fiery optics that burn in even more proximate ecologies? Diffuse and concentrated, organic to network and back again. And forth again. We are scarcely able to meet their gaze in return — or we invite the suntan, welcoming the rock 'n' roll radio to our tv selves, signalling intently.

The proliferating eye observes our proceedings silently from the corner, reflected back upon itself, circuitous and contagious in this hygienic space of generation. Perhaps worship and resignation are insufficient responses at this level of assembly. Perhaps what is required are malleability and movement.

Still, we climb.

 

19:33, 19:32, 19:31 . . .

 

Con-fessional: Pinkeye

Department of Biological Flow
Pinkeye
2012
sculpture and closed circuit video

 

A program is comprised of ever so many procedures in alignment, ever so many steps. One after the other, there is a linear unfolding to an output or endpoint before looping back to begin again, newly informed. But do these steps have a rhythm?

Plugged in, we race to the finish line, our clock ticking down momentously with each stride taken — two pounds of sem.i/o.tex or a jet pack to the future. Back again, forth again, the rhythm must be located in this feedforward to the network. Steady the oscillations for anthropomorphic recognition, discipline the cadence. The lilting and stuttering will soon return.

Tick, tick, tick . . .

 

      –i tried to prepare you.

      –you didn't prepare me for this.

 

18:37, 18:36, 18:35 . . .

 

Con-fessional: Switch(ed)

 

It is difficult to locate a disciplinary cadence when one is surfing the societies of control. ("The rules of the game are on hydraulic footing and don't quite have their sea legs yet — or maybe never.") Step, step, step, but the ground shifts imperceptibly underfoot, or violently, as it were. A stairway to heaven on wheels, rocking to and fro: keep one's centre of gravity firmly in the middle and radiate the flesh beyond. There is no athletic stance to be found here, for an upright (im)posture is essential when climbing the stairs, recognizably. Duchamp recognized this as well: there is a verticality to the diagonal passage no matter which direction one is travelling, stairway to heaven or highway to hell.

Rhythm stabilizes this freewheeling journey in time, leaving only minor correctives to the micromusculature of our anthropomorphized anatomy. Platformed, informed, the program begins to take shape as the saturated curiosity of the assembled swarm gradually yields to a collective realization.

Realize. Real, I's. You see it unfolding, but here at the punctum caecum ēlectricus the witnessing bubbles up from deep in the flesh.

(Can you outrun the reel eyes?)

 

14:40, 14:39, 14:38 . . .

 

Con-fessional: Knives

 

Scene: "I SEEK YOU" (Take Two).

Cut to black.

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the tiny pair of household scissors. Resume climbing, seek the rhythm anew. Trim a wire here, a wire there: snip, snip. Off course, the cutting body begins to lilt and stutter with these unusual gestures. Pause. We must resume, rhythmically, that is the program. There it is. Begin cutting again, fold the lilt and stutter in with the backbeat and make those fingers move. The mecha scissorhands butterfly continues to snip, snip, snip.

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the small pair of garden shears. Resume climbing, seek the rhythm anew. (oops, that wave almost got us!) The Armourlite power cable is choking, coiled around the body like a slim anaconda, constricting breath. Still stepping, the snipping yields to snapping, a cracking knuckle of a cut that begins to relieve the pressure. And then another, whose recoil this time attempts to throw the rhythmical body askew. Or a lilt now back on track, shedding the metallic anaconda as if an old snakeskin, revealing another layer underneath. Breathing easier now. Breathing more heavily.

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the barbecue knife with the nine-inch blade. (9 inches!) Long and slender, its tip splits in two as if the tongue of some flattened reptile forged from stainless steel. Resume climbing, seek the rhythm anew. Don't cut orthogonally into the body; turn the blade sideways and probe with the forked tongue between layers, flickering, before slicing away from the curves on a sharpened-edge stroke. Caress, then cut, but do so quickly: time is running out. Carve away the mecha butterfly exponential accelerator pack, savage smooth the kinoderm layer. Tear them by hand, scatter lenses and corneas and optic nerves all over the floor. I risk irises, and vitreous humours ooze forth into the assembly.

Step off, bitches.

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the Japanese band saw and feel its flimsy tone. Resume climbing, seek the rhythm anew. Paper thin, it appears harmless enough to the naked eye — after all, what danger could paper possibly pose? That is, until one's gaze traces to the affective edge. Dozens of teeth line each side, razor sharp: one imagines a piranha dentata in hand, steamrolled and ready for action. See? Saw. We must turn orthogonal now, but the platform keeps shifting with every stride of leg or of wing. Assume a fuzzy vector as we ambulate: pull, don't push and bow the device. (oops, that slice went a little too deep!) Hack away edgewise at the duct tape articulations, hack away at the insulating mirror layer, hack away at the vestigial tail and its archival pre-tensions. Lilt and stutter with this awkward technique: flash a toothy smile and quickly cut to black.

 

      –where were you when i needed you? you knew what was at stake.

 

5:03, 5:02, 5:01 . . .

 

Con-fessional: I\'ve Been Here Before

Sean Smith and Cara Spooner
A Movement Topology from "2D" to "3D" Space
process workshop
November 17, 2011

 

Step off the seasick escalator. Grab the forked knife once again. Though the cut to black layer has been torn open in many places, it clings to us still, wrapping silence around us with a thick darkened film. We pull and pull at the stretchy material and fluid ambulates everywhere from our grip. A crimson motor oil drips from the generator, but the reaction is nearly critical and the machine need only hold fast for a few more seconds to reach the world record.

Wings swing wildly, the lilting is flailing, furiously railing, and still we bipedal the backbitten rhythm. Swivel body, swing knife, to black skin stretched taut. Sharp edge bounces back off of surface intension, harmless, elastic, our effort for naught. Swing again and again, there's no time left for thought . . .

 

0:22, 0:21, 0:20 . . .

 

Step to the stomp to the rhythm to the moment, everywhere . . .
Scrapplets of programming lie scattered, here and there . . .

 

0:10, 0:09, 0:08 . . .

 

Panting and sweating, becoming-human no doubt . . .
Caught in the gaze, we seek a way out . . .

 

0:03, 0:02, 0:01 . . .

 

Ones and zeroes: once again, perhaps finally, we return to lines and circles. Yes or no, on or off, tests and switches proliferate — the irreducible binary coding that seeks to envelop us all.

 

      –running out of time.

      –Running into Time!! ^_^

 

Department of Biological Flow
ICQ (Inverted Cubofuturist Query)
2012
performance
(youtube video - 27:02)

(please feel free to take a piece of the performance home with you.)

 

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

The silence is deafening . . .

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

"Each 'plateau' is an orchestration of crashing bricks extracted from a variety of disciplinary edifices. They carry traces of their former emplacement, which give them a spin defining the arc of their vector. The vectors are meant to converge at a volatile juncture, but one that is sustained, as an open equilibrium of moving parts each with its own trajectory. The word 'plateau' comes from an essay by Gregory Bateson on Balinese culture, in which he found a libidinal economy quite different from the West's orgasmic orientation. In Deleuze and Guattari, a plateau is reached when circumstances combine to bring an activity to a pitch of intensity that is not automatically dissipated in a climax. The heightening of energies is sustained long enough to leave a kind of afterimage of its dynamism that can be reactivated or injected into other activities, creating a fabric of intensive states between which any number of connecting routes could exist." (Brian Massumi)

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

Cut to static (in motion) . . .

 

0:00, 0:00, 0:00 . . .

 

NOISE.

 

Con-fessional: Intense Zero

 

Zero.

A pregnant 0:00, to be certain — ("there are always two, even when you perceive one, connected) — analog, ripe and bursting at the stitches with intens–

 

the show opens, a tiny slitscan portal to 2046 appears in the distance.