The Voice (and its Mingled Bodies)

Courtesy of Kellogg

With professional sport — and particularly those major professional sports leagues that play a large number of games in a season, such as the NBA, NHL or MLB — there exist at least three distinct tempos at play which animate the television broadcast. The first is born of the Flesh that plays the game proper — that is, the athletes that literally provide the muscular motor for the sporting spectacle that is being produced. Fast-twitch fibres, razor-sharp reflexes, power: everyone says the game is always fasterthe athletes that much more impressive — when they are witnessed in person, which is to say volumetrically.

The second tempo is provided by the multiple Eye that captures this fleshy expenditure in its becoming, both for telecast to audiences far removed from the sports stadium as well as for archival purposes and their future extractive values — from in camera to on camera. Obviously this is the tempo most apparent to the television viewer at whatever contingency is called home, even though its aim is to achieve a perfect transparency that allows for the truth of sporting copoiesis and its measureable objectives to illuminate the living room or sports bar space.

Paradoxically, this is a tempo of acceleration: while slow-motion instant replay allows the network producer to loop back ad infinitum to show athletic exploits at reduced speed in startling detail, the multiple cuts they entail and indeed the slow-motion techniques themselves serve overall to somatically accelerate a pace that has been largely compromised by the wide-angle tracking shot.

This subtle narcosis of the TV screen is in turn partially offset by a third tempo, that of the Voice (play-by-play, colour commentary) which narrates the athletic emergence and channels its discursive formation in a fashion that toggles between registers of servomechanism and agency. While the fleshy bodies on the field of play must eventually decay and be replaced by other peak bodies, the Voice is timeless — or at least of a pace that introduces nostalgia through the rhythmic undulation of its articulations and periodic spasms of hyperbole (if you are sleeping then you are not paying full enough attention).

Puberty is metamorphosis for the Voice: expression has changed, a phase shift that for both genders generally deepens the tone and produces a different quality of intensity to the air that is expired with every word spoken. After puberty, one's voice barely changes throughout the rest of one's life, even while the rest of its fleshy container grows old and withers. While peak athletic bodies come and go at great pace, the timelessness of the announcing Voice is ensured so long as it does not become strange and lose its ability to connect at this slower tempo.

The Voice is a Skin (or perhaps an aural form of what Serres refers to as a veil) that does not appear on the TV screen too often — in fact, we might consider it a form that ruptures the pellicule (skin) itself. Its performative expression is much less for the television than it is a performance of the television and its network affiliations for the hordes in attendance at the stadium. At the very least the Face of the Voice is visible on-screen rarely enough that the sight of bad toupees, weaves or awkward botox treatments are either barely registered or offer a quaint and queer artefect produced as the excess of nostalgia's claims to truth.

_____________ _ _ _

Rewind: Sept. 2008: "Structurally, late modern sport operates along two primary temporal vectors: it is at once the eternal recurrence of a particular sporting history wrapped in the warm folds of nostalgia (or better, what LCD Soundsystem might call borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered century) and a continual preparation for contagion, processing, incarceration and trauma. Somewhere in between this implicated past and future is the now of consumption."

_____________ _ _ _

Generally speaking, we might suggest it is the multiple Eye (and its interface with the touch of Skin) that governs the preparation for contagion, processing, incarceration and trauma found in late modern sport, while the Voice (and its interface with the touch of Skin) anchors its eternal recurrence of particular sporting histories in nostalgia.

Finally, we might suggest that the Flesh (and its interface with the touch of Skin) both implicates and is implicated by the now of consumption. It is here that exchange occurs, tempos slightly out of joint, though one hopes not overly so. It is here that we gesture towards new forms of encounter, new politics, new exchanges — in part through and with the Skin, but also by interfacing Flesh directly, in resonances of harmony or interference.

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
2010
sildenafil citrate, blister packaging
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.

* * *

keywords: catcher, errors, sabermetric programming languages, sildenafil citrate, agency

a stitch in time

Courtesy of Amber Scoon

amber scoon
skin series (#4)
2009
handmade/recycled paper, string, wax, varnish

once upon a time baseball was speed. to the industrial working class of an emerging america, with its long hours on the farm, in the shop, or at the factory, baseball was the perfect complement of evening leisure — far more suitable temporally than cricket and its aristocratic pastoral rhythms that would stretch out over days.

one day, however, speed passed the game by.

(i've spent the day in front of my tv set — that memory box.)

today baseball is too slow for the digital age of television, internet, fantasy league or tweet. today the sabermetric approach applies statistical methods and quantitative analytics to the baseball archive, research and development processes whose anterior models are thereafter confirmed or rejected on the field of play. today one might go to the game for the tactile and visceral recharge of getting away from one's computer for three hours — a different sort of massage, if you will.

have we not witnessed a parallel development with photography?

with the polaroid our will to pellicule appeared to have found its completion: how could we hasten the development processes such that the eye would be converted to skin as quickly as possible? a little tug on the white part, wave it around a bit, and the archive of inscribed memory was already produced for one to remember.

but we have a flip.

with the digital camera today we do not even wait for the eye to fulfill its mundane task, as our very being in the world in a performative sense requires us to always already be in com-position . . . we do not fix our eye to the technical apparatus anymore, but rather sit back and coolly observe the com-position, or the performance, as it unfolds . . . the only question is if the eye, as it unfolds, will ruin the skin already produced as an anterior effect . . . in its exposure and luminescence the skin already produced from the outset is processed from chemistry to the numerical grids of pixel resolution and linguistic codes of file format . . . word for word, or perhaps character for character, shameful exposed skin.

Back in Time, Stupidly

he was stupid, finding out the hard way that with the digital camera what was perceived as the eye was in fact the skin itself. or perhaps he was trying to look backward into time, through time. call it inverse retrospection. prospection.

(of course i'll never make that film. nonetheless i'm collecting the sets, inventing the twists, putting in my favorite creatures. i've even given it a title, indeed the title of those mussorgsky songs: sunless.)

unlike both eye and skin, the athletic gestural poet is not dependent on lighting conditions, neither sun nor clouds. she seeks not exposure but expression. she seeks a different unfolding of time, or perhaps its weaving.

(so they had to come there, both of them, under the rain, to perform the rite that would repair the web of time where it had been broken.)

Web of Time

ex tempore

Temporary - Amsterdam 2010

once upon a time
i hit
that game-winning single
that game-winning jumper
that game-winning game winner
in front of the crowd or
in front of nobody.

what was i wearing?
what was i hearing?
who were those people?
that made me do that very thing
that you ask of me yet wonder how it is i did
that very thing in the first place.

it might define you,
that game-winning game winner,
one fair moment in the
noble archive we play.

but i have already forgotten it,
that game-winning game winner,
just like the river you
can never step in twice.

two times, or maybe more, i made
that game-winning game winner,
though i know to this day
that it never made me.

D S NFORMAT ON

(concept for installation inside a squash court, november 2008)

D s nformat on

THE SQUASH COURT is presented as a unique site of aesthetic and political engagement for a critical sport art work. Not only does this site of sport resemble a traditional art gallery space with its sparse orthogonal shape and stark white walls, but it also belongs to a political genealogy that dates back to the earliest days of the Manhattan Project.

D S NFORMAT ON interrogates this nuclear genesis with an installation whose elements explore themes of body, surveillance, spatiotemporality, race and representation. The artwork is on display outside the privileged space of the gallery or museum, while the privileged activity of binary sporting competition is challenged by the recoded use of this space.

Squash Court

AS ONE ENTERS THE ROOM a surround-sound system plays poetry written and spoken by Etan Thomas, slowed down to 40 percent of its original speed to create a densely-laden atmosphere. The irregular muted echoes of squash balls striking the walls of surrounding courts offer punctuation points to the low drone inside the room.

ON THE TWO SIDE WALLS are two series of pictures, hung alternately from one series to the other. The first series, taken from Creative Commons-licensed work on Flickr, represents moving bodies as they negotiate various types of waveforms in public space, such as the street skater who fluidly contours the urban architectural field. The second represents similar imagery, but which has been leveraged as part of the spectacle industry. The images are all the same size and mounted in identical silver frames with white matting. They are spaced as if the wall was the x-axis of time and the two series formed the intersection points of cosine and sine waves, respectively.

ON THE FRONT WALL is a third series of pictures, this one representing instances of the linear as they may be found in the varied landscapes of sport, such as the chalk line of the baseball path or the running lanes of a sprinting track. They are irregularly-sized and mounted in frames of assorted shapes and colours. They appear to proliferate from both above and below the service boundary at the centre of the front wall: line, sine, cosine.

ON THE BACK WALL, mounted over the entrance, is a surveillance camera that looks directly toward the centre of the court.

THE CENTRE OF THE COURT, where the short line dividing frontcourt and backcourt intersects with the line dividing service areas, is the position of power in squash. At this point stands a regulation ten-foot basketball net whose stanchion and backboard are painted white to match the walls of the court. The rim is freshly painted orange. From the rim hangs a full body suit of skin, similar to a wetsuit, fashioned from some type of Hollywood f/x latex. The skin has a pair of long basketball shorts and wristbands sewn onto the appropriate points of the body, and is inscribed all over its surface with a number of tattoos. It hangs from the rim by large hooks whose points pierce through its stretched back, not unlike as if Stelarc had been a basketball player.

klōn, gestation, labour, natality

Dawning

Clone

i woke up one morning to find out i had been cloned.

it was painless, really. a few bits of data lying around had suddenly been reconstituted into a new me. clippings whose sum value approaches zero as the replication approaches infinity, the baudrillard-image might suggest, xeroxing their way across the ecosystem.

i didn't feel a thing…

Gamespace (Panic)

Clone

'Replication has also long been manifest in the sportocratic imagination, its genealogical roots reaching back at least to the mechanical reproduction of baseball cards and bubblegum. But these flattened, lifeless representations lack sufficient dynamism for a culture hell-bent on its own immortality, and so we begin to animate the images by repurposing the data stocks and flows generated as a derivative of baseball's industrial production process. At the cusp between biomechanics and the age of simulation, Strat-O-Matic becomes the link in the helical chain connecting Branch Rickey and scientific management in baseball with Billy Beane, the sabermetric revolution and the third wave eugenics of baseball performance.'
(June 2006)

Corpus

Clone

'Though the vector of flow is clearly directed towards an obsolescence of the body, the question is if we will continue to see periodic eddies in the current, in which we "retrieve" the body or parts thereof for one purpose or another.'
(July 2005)

* * *

Bodies without organs.
Bodies without bodies.
_____ without _____.
Fill in your own fucking theory.
(June 2007)

Intensity

Clone

'This identity constellation of corporate consumer control is marked by its architecture and interface, and it obscures its bodily remainders in the process. In navigating multiple identities, on the other hand, one explicitly acknowledges the remainders, indeed embraces them. The former is an administered, metered and exchanged passage into the skin, while the latter offers a contingent and outward invitation of the flesh.'
(March 2009)

Mimetic Polycarbon

Mimetic Polycarbon
(Facebook Self-Portrait)
January 30, 2010

'The gestural body is a moving body, and is thus always already a political one as well. The logic of skin tectonics suggests that such a moving body will never be fully captured by the tightness of its spectacular skin, for there will always be a slippage between integumentary layers. And it is this slippage that constitutes the contemporary zone of opportunity, of resistance, and of indifference.'
(February 2010)

Coda

Boris Groys, 'The Weak Universalism', e-flux:

"Today, in fact, everyday life begins to exhibit itself—to communicate itself as such—through design or through contemporary participatory networks of communication, and it becomes impossible to distinguish the presentation of the everyday from the everyday itself. The everyday becomes a work of art—there is no more bare life, or, rather, bare life exhibits itself as artifact. Artistic activity is now something that the artist shares with his or her public on the most common level of everyday experience. The artist now shares art with the public just as he or she once shared it with religion or politics. To be an artist has already ceased to be an exclusive fate, becoming instead an everyday practice—a weak practice, a weak gesture. But to establish and maintain this weak, everyday level of art, one must permanently repeat the artistic reduction—resisting strong images and escaping the status quo that functions as a permanent means of exchanging these strong images."

__________

(to laura dean, for fanning the flames)