Toward a Kinoderm Aesthetics

Mapping emergent territories

When designing a videogame character using 3-D modeling and animation tools, one begins the process with two separate, though interrelated, requirements: a wireframe "skeleton" of the character's body and a two-dimensional texture map of the character's facial appearance. That is, the skin of the character, while imagined as a volumetric construct, is always already understood in its design as a flat surface, laid bare, before its eventual (re)constitution as an animate form.

Face Texture Map

Hence, we may literally describe a cartography of the dermis whose features may be higher or lower in resolution, perhaps more crisp in detail or slightly blurred depending on the distortions in the fold to the volumetric.

The great ephemeral skin

"Open the so-called body and spread out all its surfaces: not only the skin with each of its folds, wrinkles, scars, with its great velvety planes, and contiguous to that, the scalp and its mane of hair, the tender pubic fur, nipples, nails, hard transparent skin under the heel, the light frills of the eyelid, set with lashes — but open and spread, expose the labia majora, so also the labia minora with their blue network bathed in mucus, dilate the diaphragm of the anal sphincter, longitudinally cut and flatten out the black conduit of the rectum, then the colon, then the caecum, now a ribbon with its surface all striated and polluted with shit; as though your dress-maker's scissors were opening the leg of an old pair of trousers, go on, expose the small intestine's alleged interior, the jejunum, the ileum, the duodenum …"

Courtesy of Stelarc

stelarc
stretched skin
2009
4m X 3m image / 3 photo panels

"… or else, at the other end, undo the mouth at its corners, pull out the tongue at its most distant roots and split it, spread out the bats' wings of the palate and its damp basements, open the trachea and make it the skeleton of a boat under construction; armed with scalpels and tweezers, dismantle and lay out the bundles and bodies of the encephalon; and then the whole network of veins and arteries, intact, on an immense mattress, and then the lymphatic network, and the fine bony pieces of the wrist, the ankle, take them apart and put them end to end with all the layers of nerve tissue which surround the aqueous humours and the cavernous body of the penis, and extract the great muscles, the great dorsal nets, spread them out like smooth sleeping dolphins" (Lyotard, Libidinal Economy, p.1).

Kino-gait

One moves through public space. Perhaps it is an overexposed space, or a space of pronounced acceleration in flux. Perhaps one's head is bowed slightly — in an effort to avoid visually dominating the other(s), or in a desire to frustrate authentication protocols, or in a simple attempt toward modesty. But if we are to locate ourselves in regimes of positionality that stand outside of or distinct from duration, we still need to "see" in some way.

It is a touch-based affective co-emergence that allows us to "see" in the process of moving through public space proper, with all of the politics that implies. And kino-gait offers a potentiality by which one may prosthetically explore a filtered memory of that same movement, with the subject located in the negative space of the embodied camera's multiple gaze.

Toward a kinoderm aesthetics

On the surface, it appears that one ought to view the images produced during the kino-gait process by projecting them onto some three-dimensional screen, perhaps shaped like the body of the individual who originally wore the camera apparatus: an anthropometrically correct screen. After all, we are describing a volumetric body moving relationally with other bodies in the corridors and conduits of biological flow. Do we not need to respect this phenomenon of the body, its tangible fact as thing?

No. Once the body has been imaged — even in negative space — and abstracted from relation, the distinctions between three-dimensional and two-dimensional outputs as technologies of expression become less significant (although not entirely trivial): a media-specific analysis suggests that either may prove more beneficial than the other in any particular context. It is rather how these outputs as aesthetic forms are inscribed in networks of power — as, for example, what Benjamin describes with "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" — that is of greater importance. How does power compromise the image produced in the abstraction of relation? How is relation compromised in turn?

Some omniocular visioning systems, such as motion capture, rely on a nearly perfect convergence of all camera lenses. In others, such as with ProZone, there simply needs to be a measure of overlap in order for the cameras to effectively monitor and communicate the position of a tracking-object. The point is that in any system at least two cameras ought to see the same marker at any one moment in time.

Given the complex contours that identify each of our body-volumes, not to mention the unique signatures in gait each of us performs, any kinoderm array of cameras will for the most part be characterized by divergence. We are curvy bodies, after all. And this is what curves do when the gaze is directed the other way: they diverge.

But the point remains: in any omniocular visioning system at least two cameras ought to see the same marker at any one moment in time. Even given the divergent qualities of any kinoderm array, this need not imply a large number of cameras. In Kino-Gait Study No.3 (above), there was a significant degree of overlap-through-divergence with only five cameras on the arrayed body.

Left: \'Aperture,\' courtesy of Antony Gormley

left: antony gormley
aperture
2009-10

Can we reverse engineer and transduce techniques of videogame modeling and animation to lift the kino-gait skin from the inscription of emergence and lay it flat on the surface? Can we invent new techniques? Can we literally describe a dynamic cartography of the kinodermis — whose features may be higher or lower in resolution, perhaps more crisp in detail or slightly blurred depending on the distortions in the fold from the volumetric?

Can we stitch the various cameras together, in other words, to provide a coherent two-dimensional text for the reader — a cinematic version of the Stelarcian skin discarded above?

Such techniques will require advanced dialogues with gait analysis, motion capture biomechanics, mathematics, digital signal processing, sculpting, choreography, music and others in order to create a similarly functional two-dimensional map of the space that is being surveyed. But it will also require holes, glitches, backdoors, easter eggs, etc. — what we might refer to as pores in the skin. In short, deludology as an active strategy of design so that the mobile political subject always retains opportunities for movement.

The deludic eruptions of holey space are but one element of a skin tectonics that offer the transludic subject-in-relation a micropolitics of maneuver.

Charlotte Sometimes (Mudstep Jam)

lousy t-shirt provided by semiotextil(e)

1. We accelerate into the threshold to decelerate out the other side.

2. When one views a small farm while driving by in the hermetic confines of an automobile, the plot of land doesn't look so big. But get out of the car to walk in the field and the space begins to dilate. The rolling image has become an expanding volume. Now work that same field.

3. It is a question of tempo: smooth and striated spaces are not simply matters of intensities versus geometries, but concern speeds as well.

4. The problem with the theory of relativity is that for the layperson it is usually only applied in understanding cosmic or interstellar phenomena (ie. at the speed of light spacetime is compressed relative to our planetary frame of reference). But relativity has potential for us in the lived everyday as well: a change in velocities introduces distinct changes in the embodiment and perception of spacetime — by which we mean its active creation.

5. The threshold of holey space significantly modulates the vibrating fibres of matrixial intersubjectivity, partly through change in proximity, partly through change in velocity, partly through embodied archive and memory. Always through relation.

Several: "We are each constituted by more than one of these relational moebius strips, each of us several in our singularity. These relational fibres grow at rates different for each unique relation, to different thicknesses or densities of weave. Each one may be shorter or longer in total surface and decay at a different rate, despite being woven of essentially the same stuff. This is because the 'stuff' of which they are woven is both organic and technic, born of flesh, gesture and linguistic interface. And as these relations move to fibre optic communication networks there emerges a doubling or higher degree of complexity to the assemblage, with the moebius relations themselves becoming subject to a new moebius topology bounded by the here of local presence and the now of (nearly) instantaneous electronic transmission. These fibres, too, become subject to the rationality of industrial agriculture, this time in the form of social networking." (March 2010)

6. This phenomenon is most pronounced at the node, that location in the meshwork which stabilizes the web of relations but also most keenly and affectively senses the largest number of relational forces in tension or pull. For the node, passage through holey space constitutes the most dramatic shift in intensity experienced by any of the several.

Spiderweb

7. Through gusts of wind that vigorously sway it back and forth the spiderweb holds on and persists, however, due in no small part to the strength of its nodes. Charlotte.

8. Unless it breaks. Sometimes.

9. The passage through holey space demands protocol (discrete particles) as well as performativity (resonant waves) to successfully negotiate the relational shift.

Tango: "Each of us forms a node in a broader network of these moebius relations. The web weaves through spaces and places both material and informational, mappings and tracings alike left in the wake of its continual emergence. But we must remember that this web emerges first and foremost from the moving body. The larger one's node in the network becomes, the greater potential for this moving body to form knots in these relations, knots somatically registered with a particular sense of anxiety. The moving body finds itself bound in a relational tango, to borrow the abstract diagram of intersubjective micropolitics suggested by Erin Manning. Or, already being several, it finds itself in a series of moebius part-dances with other individuals that attempt not to cross footsteps: as one body releases from the other in tango, given the space from which it may choose to return (anxiety), a differential space is opened in which other part-dances and their relational fibres may intersect or form knots and entanglements. The body thus finds itself in dances of relation, yes, but also in separate dances of disentanglement — the unweaving of knotty potentials and their somatic consequences." (March 2010)

Foucauldian Tomato Plants

10. Though the farm is relatively smooth in comparison to the city, this is not to suggest an absence of disciplinary techniques. The space is highly rationalized: enclosure, partition, rank. Sometimes the plants are given prosthetic braces, sometimes they are kept in cages. There are no surveillance cameras monitoring this movement, however, either in the greenhouses or out in the fields. Yet.

11. Repetition yields to rapid innovation in technique, though not necessarily a program.

12. The weather reports of Science take a distant back seat to what actually unfolds and what is in the process of unfolding. The latter is far more engaged in the "nomad" sciences (colours in the sky, intensities of wind registered against the skin), while the former is experienced as an attunement to the lived everyday.

13. High-speed telecommunications may modulate the farmer, though not necessarily the farmed.

14. Farmers knew about gait surfing long ago, at least in a "primordial" sense. Watch them walk the rows: contouring, flowing, sensing. They referred to it simply as "being in the world".

15. It would be easy to suggest that the farmer is simply walking up and down rows of stasis. But plants move: they grow up and out as sensing volumes in their own right, they deepen and expand their root systems, they sway to and fro in the gentle breezes of summer. At this recalibrated tempo, gait surfing's ontogenetic processes of walking-in-relation have been slowed down, exaggerated, and rendered more readily visible to one interested in biological flow. Dial down the BPM for this mudstep jam.

16. Note that biological flow is not the sole preserve of humans.

17. Do not confuse this with cheap nostalgia. Slowing down the gestural microscope reveals a care for the relation that exists between farmer and plant (and plant and plant…). This care is the envy of the gait surfer, who seeks to develop, sustain, or otherwise transduce it as the biological fluxes increase their speed upon return to the city.

All the faces
All the voices blur
Change to one face
Change to one voice
Prepare yourself for bed
The light seems bright
And glares on white walls
All the sounds of
Charlotte sometimes
Into the night with
Charlotte sometimes

Night after night she lay alone in bed
Her eyes so open to the dark
The streets all looked so strange
They seemed so far away
But Charlotte did not cry

The people seemed so close
Playing expressionless games
The people seemed
So close
So many
Other names…

Sometimes I'm dreaming
Where all the other people dance
Sometimes I'm dreaming
Charlotte sometimes
Sometimes I'm dreaming
Expressionless the trance
Sometimes I'm dreaming
So many different names
Sometimes I'm dreaming
The sounds all stay the same
Sometimes I'm dreaming
She hopes to open shadowed eyes
On a different world
Come to me
Scared princess
Charlotte sometimes

On that bleak track
(See the sun is gone again)
The tears were pouring down her face
She was crying and crying for a girl
Who died so many years before…

Sometimes I dream
Where all the other people dance
Sometimes I dream
Charlotte sometimes
Sometimes I dream
The sounds all stay the same
Sometimes I'm dreaming
There are so many different names
Sometimes I dream
Sometimes I dream…

Charlotte sometimes crying for herself
Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself
But it's always with love
With so much love it looks like
Everything else
Of Charlotte sometimes
So far away
Glass sealed and pretty
Charlotte sometimes

(The Cure, "Charlotte Sometimes")

_____

(intensity, proximity, technicality: thank you.)

B-Side Wins Again

babel, amsterdam

here we go y'all, time to play ball
athletic gestural poet.

food for the brain, beats for the feet
, or
that's what Chuck D told me
when he D'd it up so sweet
, and

Balso and Beck speak bball, too, with the
jab step pitter patter pen to paper platter
, and

BB bootyshakes the late-night bebop backbeat
at the Happy sweaty hepcat hardwood affair
, and

Bebe peeps the love for a future nostalgia
no-look bounce pass hard drive to nowhere
, and

Baby Jesus leaps from the free throw line
presidential prophecy in his Air Force Ones.

(down the rabbit) holey space

a breath of fresh air, redolent of vuvuzela blossoms

there was a public outdoor screening on a restaurant wall a few nights ago at the end of the street where i live: "bangladesh defeats england in historic cricket victory." it was not projected through the partition but rather reflected upon the building’s facade. closer, yet further away.

oh, i *do* remember our identity tourism in tucson. there were cast-iron sculptures of lisa nakamura's body on every building, just like antony gormley in london. "inverted post-colonialism," i think, was the vogue.

context is not only a spatiotemporal phenomenon, but a (matrixial) psychic phenomenon as well. context suggests an increasing tendency towards harmonized (and dare we say synchronized?) co-resonance. it seems to me that context itself constitutes the stasis of monotony and that the coming-into resonance of and through alterity is what creates the openness.

did you know that amsterdam is the steampunk version of second life? delanda said they created this shit back in the 1400s! and then at some point lewis carroll wrote a virus and messed up the code. the game still plays in my console, but the graphics are a little distorted, you know?

how does third place, the "runner up in the exceptional case," change the relation between numbers one and two ("the best winners")? the ontogenesis of the third is an alter-accomplishment in its own right, no? how do we understand the third in terms of multitude and the very being-in-language of which virno, agamben and nancy speak? how does the third come into resonance of and through alterity? is openness created?

children both shy and fearless; translation, mistranslation, smiling without voices; does it really matter? tonality, don't think in terms of romanization! a new iron curtain; public, private, third spaces; be a switch; but it wouldn't be a very honest emotion if you could turn it off like a switch.

or am i flailing?

crushed blossoms in a vase of water

kode read: the cola wars (sb rmx)

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Courtesy of kode9, spaceape, and mo stoebe

there's a big upcoming sports event in vancouver!

Courtesy of kode9, spaceape, and mo stoebe

"eh! o' canada — go!"

Courtesy of kode9, spaceape, and mo stoebe

sit still in your stadium seats and listen.

Courtesy of kode9, spaceape, and mo stoebe

"he shoots, he scores!"

Courtesy of kode9, spaceape, and mo stoebe

intertext, hyperdub, replication.
difference and repetition.
meme science.

Courtesy of kode9, spaceape, and mo stoebe

"did you understand?"

still life (a portrait)

Barbed Paradise

"the camp intended as a dislocating localization is the hidden matrix of the politics in which we still live, and we must learn to recognize it in all of its metamorphoses." (g. agamben)

* * *

the leisure industry. enclosed spaces. striated spaces. iron gates. barbed-wire fences. tiled walkways. stone paths. flowered hedges. palm tree columns. spectacular spaces. controlled spaces. wear your bracelet at all times. english, french, german and spanish as the official languages of tourism. mexican, italian and mediterranean as the official flavours. edible muzak, vanilla music. authenticity. colonialism, then and now. why does it feel acceptable to speak ni hao and xie xie but condescending to speak hola and gracias? desiring the other. spf 45, 10, 30, 60. spectrum of melanin. skin versus flesh. pattern recognition of facial scans, gaits and volumes. excess fat, excess hair, excess food, excess alcohol. a powder keg of explosive violence. with the lights out, it's less dangerous. here we are now, entertain us. i feel stupid and contagious. here we are now, entertain us. a mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido. yeah. instructions for washing hands: 1. soap; 2. wash; 3. dry; 4. disinfect. don't drink the water. wear shoes. hygienic paper covers half left on the straws. fist bumps offered by the staff. gastroenterology. jewish penicillin. too hot, too cold, too humid, too dry. sun worship. photo ops. covert ops. sport as statistical anomaly to the sedentary. in grid. subject, object, abject, traject. dialup internet. (stay in fantasy, maintain disconnect!) heterotopia. heteronormativity. repressed desire. bringing sexy back. techno-femme states that all communication is sexual. a mocking return of the tactile. an imagined lolita. spy versus spy.

* * *

"the social image of the consumption of time is for its part exclusively dominated by leisure time and vacations — moments portrayed, like all spectacular commodities, at a distance, and as desirable by definition. this particular commodity is explicitly presented as a moment of authentic life whose cyclical return we are supposed to look forward to. yet even in such special moments, ostensibly moments of life, the only thing being generated, the only thing to be seen and reproduced, is the spectacle — albeit at a higher-than-usual level of intensity. and what has been passed off as authentic life turns out to be merely a life more authentically spectacular." (g. debord)

Sunny Spectacle