FoolBand (or a Note on Metabolic Vehicles)


Wired Playbook:

Nike’s got a new gadget that tracks all that exertion and motivates you to get more active by turning your workout, and everyday activities, into a game with a reward called NikeFuel.

FuelBand is a wristband that records data collected by an accelerometer. It tracks calories expended, steps taken and the time of day as well as your NikeFuel score and presents it on an LED display. Your score is based on an algorithm that assigns points to various movements. The more active you are, the more NikeFuel you earn. You can earn it doing just about anything, track your progress with your iPhone or iPad and eventually share it with others via social media platforms.

“[FuelBand] is a common measurement across a wide spectrum of activity,” says Trevor Edwards, a Nike VP.

. . .

Activities are measured the same way for everyone, regardless of how many calories are burned, says Glen Gaesser, an exercise and wellness professor at Arizona State University who worked with Nike to develop FuelBand. He says 30 college-aged men and women performed various everyday movements in his lab. Each activity took eight minutes, followed by a brief rest, during a 90-minute workout. Participants wore a FuelBand along with a portable metabolic measurement system that tracked their oxygen uptake breath-by-breath. Nike engineers used the data to develop the proprietary algorithms that track accelerometer data accompanying each uptake of oxygen. That forged a relationship between physical movements and oxygen data in which each activity has a recognized accelerometry pattern.

Unlike calories, which vary depending upon gender and weight, NikeFuel holds a common score for each type of activity. Algorithms for some movements aren’t always 100 percent accurate, but Gaesser says it shouldn’t affect the FuelBand’s overall effectiveness.


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Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics, p.94:

"The invader's performance resembles that of his athletic counterpart, of those olympic champions whose records first progressed by hours, then by minutes, then by seconds, then by fractions of seconds. The better they performed (the more rapid they became), the more pitiful were the advances they obtained, until they could only be noticed electronically. One day the champion will disappear in the limits of his own record, as is already suggested by the biological manipulation of which he is the object, and which resembles the methods of artificial medical survival granted the terminally ill. For the dromomaniac the engine is also a prosthesis of survival. It is remarkable that the first automobiles, Joseph Cugnot's military trolley of 1771, for example, were steam-powered, already situating themselves at the limit of the animal body's metempsychosis, relay of historical evolution: the limit of the passage from the metabolic vehicle to the technological vehicle, spilling its smoke like a last breath, a final symbolic manifestation of the motor-power of living bodies."


* * *


Only the situation has folded in upon itself: as the champion disappears into the limits of his own record, so too does an entire economy of record-production begin to show the cracks of its own implosion. Similarly, the economy of athletic celebrity proves to be straining at the boundaries of sustainability, and the fuel that bursts these stars into the sky only to therein be captured as sources of nuclear-interactive potential is no longer sufficient as an energetic solution for the demands of cognitive capitalism and its tyranny of exhaustion (cf. Bifo).

Sole. Soul. Solar. Virilio demands an ecological approach that fully understands technological culture and not simply its biological substratum. But Nike is already there, shifting from celebrity plutonium to a more diversified and distributed energetic approach in which score resumes its superiority over image, the cellular Everyman with his FuelBand still miles away from pitiful athletic advances and thus ripe for athletic endcolonialism writ softly as ambient informatics and performance exchange rates.

Sold: the situation has folded in upon itself, fuel is produced after the fact, and the metabolic vehicle driving around in fresh Nikes is not quite dead either, exhausted though it may be.

AutoImmune Wall

("biogramming base bodies: we're all in" - brief notes from a brief presentation made at the 2011 north american society for sport sociology conference in minneapolis)

Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas


On December 31, 1999, the ESPN cable sports network ran its Greatest Moments of the 20th Century, a 6-minute 44-second compilation of the most epic highlights in (primarily American) sport since the advent of television. Set to Aerosmith's "Dream On," the effect is a spine-chilling barrage of significant moments culled from decades of sporting events and condensed into a few minutes of adrenaline-soaked nostalgia. If the average weeknight highlight reel has a mild narcotic effect to it, then Greatest Moments of the 20th Century was crack cocaine, folding a longer stretch of lived time and more intensely felt affects into a televisual delirium whose high fades shortly after consumption.

ESPN's video offers the viewer an accounting of time: in this compilation of the "best" and most memorable moments we have a linear accounting of time extracted from duration — a catalogue of sorts from which one must know all the references as proof of good fan subjectivity, whose cuts may thereafter be rearranged to create a particular narrative order in tandem with the theme music.

Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas

Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas

In early 2011, athletic footwear, apparel and lifestyle conglomerate adidas launched its worldwide marketing campaign "adidas is all in". Presented as a cosmopolitan moment in global sport and physical culture — at least insofar as its endorsers and target markets are concerned — the campaign's television creative consisted of 15, 30 and 60-second edits of a centrepiece 120-second ad, played at the launch of the campaign and available on Youtube thereafter. Within five months of the "adidas is all in" launch, the full-length version had been viewed over 2 million times.

In contrast with the ESPN video, "All In" is rather an accounting of globalized, cosmopolitan space in a durational moment of time: two minutes of sports and entertainment happening around the world right now. Set to a pulsing soundtrack by Justice, the moving gestures in this dynamic form are asignifiying in the sense that these sports and entertainment figures have been abstracted from referential time — one does not need to know nearly as many references in order to "comprehend" the video text. While Muybridge and Marey used stroboscopic photography to deconstruct the moving body into series of still images, adidas strobes bodies together with light and sound, moving-cuts moving through each break, amodally intermingling gestures as part of the composing form of the biogram.


The cut moves from sound to image, as seen in the scene with football players barking like dogs morphing to stadium security apparatus (the latter of which legitimates the contest as an important event):

Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas

The cut also moves through tiny explosions of light, "independent" of gesture in their luminescence:

Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas


Eduardo Galeano once described the goal in soccer as that sport's orgasmic form. Interestingly, however, it is Rose the basketball player and not Messi the footballer who scores in the end, providing a release to the pent-up libidinal tension whose point of inflection may be found in the speed bag pummeling of frenulum or clitoris.

Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas

This is definitely a schizorgasm we are describing, however. Rose's dunk is immediately followed by a punishing blow to the face in the boxing ring, which sets off a chain of aggression in the succeeding clips. (Consent?) As the pulsing waves of pleasure subside to a refractory period of shopping or consumption we are led through an affective tonality of aggression and conflict: the Haka warrior dance used by the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team to intimidate opponents; two college football mascots fighting on the sidelines; a figure wearing a protective gas mask and holding a flaming torch, suggesting perhaps an ambiguous recognizance between street artist or political activist and providing a stark counter-punctum to the clip of security dogs and officers earlier in the video. It is intensities that have been represented, after all.

Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas

Intensity and representation

A cultural studies read of the text as semiotic is certainly important — for example, within the representational elements of gender, race, embodiment or movement culture — but in a sense these are retrospectively coded understandings.

Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas

As Brian Massumi suggests, "The kinds of codings, griddings, and positionings with which cultural theory has been preoccupied are no exception to the dynamic unity of feedback and feed-forward, or double becoming. Gender, race, and orientation are what Ian Hacking calls 'interactive kinds': logical categories that feed back into and transform the reality they describe (and are themselves modified by in return). Ideas about cultural or social construction have dead-ended because they have insisted on bracketing the nature of the process" (Parables for the Virtual, p.11).

It is the movements of becoming-bodies, rather, not to mention their (re)production through sophisticated digital editing techniques that emerge as the biogram and its composing form with which we should be concerned. This dynamism is forged under intense speed, a subtle narcosis of attack on perception that through a particular pathway of movement states simply "I want more."

The Affective Computer

(a slow paper pounce, a floating lazily down an amsterdam [channel] … )

Toward a Fleshy Architecture of Baseball

Baseball is a game of discrete operations. Or, as McLuhan used to suggest, the industrial assembly line economy perfected in its sporting form.

And yet, despite the pastoral sense of time it still retains somewhat in our contemporary society of the instant, baseball is a game that never quite comes to rest. Whether in terms of a subtle and syncopated rhythm of athletes continually in motion on the field of play, or of code that circulates endlessly through the folding networks of sporting actors producing the event, baseball is always already in excess of the formal play and its discreteness.

Two Out, Men on First and Second (2010)

two out, men on first and second
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6.5 x 5 cm

So while the architecture of baseball could be considered a computing architecture — that is, one that performs rational, linguistic calculations in order to achieve particular end goals as efficiently as possible — it is a computing architecture already in excess of its formal logic and discrete operations precisely because of the fleshiness of its moving components. Put differently, we are describing a baseball computer whose affects are precisely what allows for the functioning of the system and its switches.

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justice, justus

saskatchewan roughrider quarterback darian durant didn't have one of his best performances in yesterday's grey cup championship game against montreal. he struggled with both his passing and running, and the riders never really developed a sustained rhythm offensively. one could intuit this by simply watching what was unfolding, though the stats overlays seemed to make the same case. durant was not the reason they lost, but he wouldn't have been the reason had they won, either.

down three points late in the game, the riders needed a decent drive to have any opportunity for the tying field goal. facing heavy pressure from a tough alouette blitz, however, the outcome was effectively decided when durant threw the only interception of the game on a desperation heave to avoid being sacked. given his prior performance in the game and the shock to affective intensity that rippled through the collective perception, it would have been very easy to blame durant for the loss — a sort of becoming-goat, if you will.

but colour analyst glen suitor interjected, pointing out that durant was not actually panicking but rather trying to do the "correct" thing and throw the ball out-of-bounds before being sacked. the complementary video replays confirmed precisely that which suitor suggested: a throw that originally appeared ill-advised suddenly became most advisable, despite the failure in execution. such is the ambiguity in the stylish argument.

we might refer to this stylish argument as a discursive exoneration in the public sphere, with durant receiving a symbolic pardon from suitor, or at least an offer of protection against overexposure.

Green Pride

but we wear the identity as well: indeed, we have all paid the price to do so.

each inscribed fan of the first best loser also seeks a discursive exoneration upon re-entering the public sphere from the heterotopias of spectacular battle. though minor characters in this performance, they, too, played their parts well. they, too, face judgment in the court of biological flow.

were you a worthy opponent?
were you treated justly by the authorities?
were you unlucky?

questions of self-discipline, relation, power, law and ritual asked in the corridors and conduits of moving bodies. as with that memory box, the questions are primarily visual. one wonders, however: did the television discourse protect these minor players from overexposure as well?

for the most part, judgment is passed silently.


(for rod murray: superfan.)



capital demands the
alarm cut switch hit
time clock punch back into
status update network signal.

capital desires the
sleep less reflex,
or Rx,
for psychoanalysis is uncertain
if dreaming tears an aperture
through the skin of total spectacle.

stay awake with us just a little longer,
there's always a basketball doubleheader
you can nap in front of on sunday afternoon.
the sabbath is a television set of rest, is it not?

(the lakers are
beating the celtics
by 2 in the Q4,
but i could swear i
was just watching philly
play the knicks.)

how quickly from deep sleep
to surface intension?
has baby got the bends?
we don't have any News from our Friends.

keep swimming,
keep breaking water.
stay in the dawning, and
wonder at the dawning, and
warm oneself to the dawning of
that birth as it becomes,
eternal return minus the one
being held at the store
on layaway.

The Image Aftermarket

Courtesy of NBA Classic

(that memory box . . .)

Watching snippets of a so-called "classic" NBA basketball game on television recently, it dawns on me that the way players on the floor move their bodies at this highest level of the sport has changed dramatically over the past forty years. The athletes are bigger, faster and stronger. The skills they execute become that much more challenging and precise in order to keep pace with the situation.

It appears that gestural language has modulated far more rapidly than its spoken or written counterparts, does it not?

And yet interestingly the play-by-play and colour narratives — the spoken interpretations of action unfolding on the court — do not sound like they have changed much at all. Or perhaps differently, the eye+ear of the narrated game has obscured the eye+proprioception of the sympathetic audience.

One can often recycle the televised image of "classic" games precisely for the reason that many people cannot remember their original outcomes. And yet the characters all remain familiar to the home televiewer, much like Macbeth, James Bond, or Lisa Simpson. In this sense, the "classic" game may exist as a memory marker for certain fans, while for others it potentially offers an experience of nostalgia blended with a "new" outcome.

The game plays itself over and over again without having to additionally pay the (by now old and retired) players. The images themselves do the work: call it untouched labour.