flight of the mecha butterflies


With its lilting and stuttering, consider the (mecha) butterfly as part of an aesthetico-political topology of movement through gesture and language — passing through the free radical, to the busker, the jester, and finally to Paolo Virno's joke, which effectively "changes topics" in conversation and may be considered a form of innovative action in surveillant/spectacular societies dominated by language. In this topological sense, not only are the "logico-linguistic" resources of jokes important (as with Virno), but also the movements of the jester or joker, the gestures and delivery that allow for the topical change to occur (as with the butterfly).


The butterfly is relatively ambivalent to the local striations of anthropocentric territories (city streets, lot plans, the domestic home), save for an interest in those affordances offered by other objects within these striated spaces (flower beds, vegetable gardens, shaded areas). For the butterfly, in this sense, space is always "smooth", or at least its particular attractions and connections are not mapped in gridly fashion: it lilts and stutters from stopping point to stopping point, a nomadic line avant la lettre, but perhaps even more illustrative to us perceptually-conceptually as it moves in its delicate awkwardness volumetrically, lifting the nomadic line off the canvas or the cave wall or the desert route for understanding in other dimensional spaces.


The jester, on the other hand, figures prominently in the medieval court. Offering "witty" counsel to the king or queen through jokes (and other forms of performance), the jester is that one who attempts to provoke a minor shift in perspectival viewpoints — from on high to down low. As the feudal court apparatus is transduced to the even more striated and biunivocal relations of the chess board, serfs and pawns get their due while the jester is left behind. But in tegwar chess, or the societies of control, the rules are modulating with every move. We find the perfect opportunity for the (re)introduction of the jester and performative jokery into the game — a powerful piece on the board so long as it does not seek to enlarge its own image or invest in the credit.

Neo-Vorticist Assemblage

A Nonsense Lab Artist Con-fessional, Part Four

"Let us try to understand in the simplest terms how space escapes the limits of its striation. At one pole, it escapes them by declination, in other words, by the smallest deviation, by the infinitely small deviation between a gravitational vertical and the arc of a circle to which the vertical is tangent. At the other pole, it escapes them by the spiral or vortex, it other words, a figure in which all the points of space are simultaneously occupied according to laws of frequency or of accumulation, distribution; these laws are distinct from the so-called laminar distribution corresponding to the striation of parallels. From the smallest deviation to the vortex there is a valid and necessary relation of consequence: what stretches between them is precisely a smooth space whose element is declination and which is peopled by a spiral. Smooth space is constituted by the minimum angle, which deviates from the vertical, and by the vortex, which overspills striation. The strength of Michel Serres's book is that it demonstrates this link between the clinamen as a generative differential element, and the formation of vortices and turbulences insofar as they occupy an engendered smooth space; in fact, the atom of the ancients, from Democritus to Lucretius, was always inseparable from a hydraulics, or a generalized theory of swells and flows. The ancient atom is entirely misunderstood if it is overlooked that its essence is to course and flow. The theory of atomism is the basis for a strict correlation between Archimedean geometry (very different from the striated and homogeneous space of Euclid) and Democritean physics (very different from solid or lamellar matter). The same coincidence means that this aggregate is no longer tied in any way to a State apparatus, but rather to a war machine: a physics of packs, turbulences, "catastrophes," and epidemics corresponding to a geometry of war, of the art of war and its machines. Serres states what he considers to be Lucretius's deepest goal: to go from Mars to Venus, to place the war machine in the service of peace. But this operation is not accomplished through the State apparatus; it expresses, on the contrary, an ultimate metamorphosis of the war machine, and occurs in smooth space."

          — Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 489


Con-fessional: Artlab-Retina

January 8, 2012, 8:56pm: Fragile. This thing will *not* stay together 2 weeks. I'm giving you a 1-week warranty or your money back. We'll call it "Toward a Theory of Relative Decay Coefficients Concerning Various Materials, Processes and Affects".



4. Neo-Vorticist Assemblage

Razzle dazzle. There you are, naked on the high seas, bobbing gently in the face of impending doom. It is World War One and there you float, regally, on one of Her Majesty's great military ships. There you are, naval gazing, and if the enemy vessels can see you, as they inevitably will, there is no where to which you may run.

Norman Wilkinson has an offer for you. The British painter wants you to make yourself even more exposed than you already are, draw attention to yourself with garish diagonal stripes on the gunwales, as if a black and white noise pattern in some 1970s children's comic book. This is the offer of dazzle camouflage: revealing rather than concealing in a gesture towards visual confusion.

Con-fessional: SS Empress of Russia in dazzle camouflage

SS Empress of Russia in dazzle camouflage


Dazzle camouflage isn't meant to hide the subject being perceived or blend one into the background so as to be rendered imperceptible. No, the idea of the zig-zags was rather to distort visual acuity as it concerned the edges and contours of the boat, such that the relation itself was split or made indeterminate. One's optical measures from a periscopic firing solution would suggest a depth between the two that was different than that required of the artillery shell or torpedo on its way to the target (with its tactical tactility). Additional diagonals would simulate the crest of the sea itself to provide a misleading estimation of speed, both position and velocity thus rendered fuzzy in the approach.

No one seems quite certain if dazzle camouflage actually worked in practice, and it is certainly difficult to conduct accurate field tests in the heat of war. But whether or not there was a demonstrable effect is immaterial: the sailors felt safer in the painted gunships, and perhaps a placebo is all that matters when such a daring gamble is at stake — the security of a deadly cosmetics in service of a deadly phallic gunplay.

(Which is perhaps an opportune moment to point out that it was in fact women, graduates from the Royal Academy of Arts, who actually designed most of the patterns unique to each boat on small wooden models — before being scaled up to "life size" by a foreman and painted. Always already prior to the enlarged image, a crucial support of the war effort as a sort of secretive chess queen, intimately interfaced with the most fearsome war technologies of the day.)

Artists, then, as part of the wartime operations. Not in terms of the representational effort, capturing for archival posterity the tragic events and glorious sacrifices made at the front lines, but in a decidedly more strategic role, deliberately breaking up the figure in a defensive gesture — of course, until the counter-offensive was volleyed in return.

Con-fessional: Semiotextile

Department of Biological Flow
wearable theory


It was another British artist, Edward Wadsworth, who ultimately supervised much of the dazzle camouflage effort during the war. He would also become the watchword linking these techniques to the post-war Vorticist movement, itself a response to the transformations of space and time emerging in Cubism and Futurism. A vortex is a circling field of intensities whose affects converge, or perhaps to avoid being so linear, circulate, concentrate and accumulate. To plot them discretely, as if they were lines on a canvas, would be to range off in all sorts of directions. And yet this accumulated effect is to culminate in a certain zone of negative intensity, punctum caecum or aporia in the eye of the storm, a negative spacetime that effects a sort of gravitational pulling-towards, a vanishing point not like that of the perspectival gaze but of an experiential field in motion whose tactile qualities fold into the visual (and which trembles in microturbulent response). The attempt of Vorticism was to capture through circulation, concentration and accumulation a certain focal point of movement-energy on the canvas.

Con-fessional: Wadsworth

Edward Wadsworth
Dazzle-ships in Drydock at Liverpool
oil on canvas


From rolling ship to flat plane: upon returning from the seas to the canvas Wadsworth and the Vorticists seemed content to resume once again with figuration, though certainly in a more dynamic form than before. All vectors attempt to converge concentrically upon a single vortical locus and all eye movement tracked to a vanishing point of energy, the dynamic forms-in-becoming best perceived with one's eyes blurred out of focus, just ever so slightly. The zigs and zags of Wadsworth's drydocked vessels find themselves recaptured, in-tensionally, as the painted diagonals of an art movement, a new aesthetic for the young Britons returning home from war.

Con-fessional: Gravitational Potential

But what if the intensity of those moments before gunfire could be reinvested as well? What if the eye itself is precisely the war zone of experience under research consideration? What if the thin cosmetic layer stretched over one's gestures and contours of performativity could be swirled and folded, along with the stench of collective fear, into a timely bunker synaesthesia as imminent as it was intimate?

Bring the neo-vortex to the nuclear gallery-reactor! Lift off the flat surface of the canvas to assemble a dynamic volumetrics of performed archive and expressive material, whose vectors shoot high and low, pitch and yaw. These would range off in all sorts of directions, and yet their accumulated effect would be to culminate in a certain zone of negative intensity — a blind spot if one was to arrest this process in motion — before being catalyzed into a frenzied energy field of exponential affects thereafter.

Plug in, mecha butterfly kraftwerker!


Con-fessional: Artlab-Vortex


Perhaps this is how the story will unfold and be told, with the blind spot as zone of political action.

trust protocol

Chess Queen

king, queen, pawn
your identity is safe with me.
fits and starts and
bits and parts and
psg through the
tapdance checkerboard

but send a msg on the
backchannel motherboard
lowdown, will you?

play that other game,
you know, the one that
everyone expects to not expect
from no one?

(or was it the other way around?
asked marker and his maneki neko
secret agent high five network.)

vacillation program

Process Transduction - Department of Biological Flow at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

process transduced
virus exchange sweet
theory vector
of gait surf potential.

pawn captures pawn en passant.

:) !?

moving body negatively
spaced, save for pain
felt in every step
of the lumbar spectacle.
matrioshkart dolls
flow through the market
inside a market
inside a market.

did you see an artist, too?

^_^ !!

curve a line
through noisy particles
of kinetic light,
fibrous absorption
to kinoderm spectrum.



(department of biological flow::flux004:: PROCESS TRANSDUCTION @ scotiabank nuit blanche toronto, october 2, 2010)

archive, intelligence, thought

Instant Karma's Gonna Get You: Reflections on Movement, Relation and Memory

(submitted by sean smith to the intersections 2010 conference in communication and culture at york university)

Street Chess in Amsterdam

In 1966 the Fluxus-influenced artist Yoko Ono presented Play It By Trust, a conceptual work featuring a chess board with two sets of all-white pieces facing each other on a grid of all-white squares. The opponents become indistinguishable from one another in the absence of traditional visual signifiers, and as the hypothetical game progresses the entire binary of militarized competition becomes subject to reconsideration. Using Ono's white chess set as a model I will put the game into play, so to speak, as a means of questioning the interrelated concepts of movement, relation and memory within this ludic space. Drawing primarily on the theory of Deleuze and Guattari, Kittler, Massumi, Manning and Agamben, I will contrast the archive as technical apparatus with a more embodied and intermediated form of collective remembering, as well as explore their implications for political sovereignty in the age of Empire.

Street Chess in Amsterdam

Two passages from Jean Baudrillard:

- from "Beyond Artificial Intelligence: Radicality of Thought," in Impossible Exchange, p. 116:

"Kasparov has on his side the human passion of the challenge; he has an other ranged against him, an opponent. Strictly speaking, Deep Blue has no adversary; it moves within the scope of its own programme. This is a decisive advantage for the human, the advantage of otherness, which is the subtle precondition for play, with its possibilities of decoying, of 'overplaying one's hand', of sacrifice and weakness. The computer, by contrast, is condemned to play at the height of its capabilities."

- from "Deep Blue or the Computer's Melancholia," in Screened Out, p. 163:

"When up against the machine they have themselves programmed (let us not forget that it was men like Kasparov who programmed Deep Blue), human beings can only subtly de-programme themselves, become 'technically incorrect' to stay ahead of the game. They may even have to take over the machine's own place. … This is the only possible strategy: if you become technically correct, you are unfailingly beaten by the machine."

instant karma's gonna get you

On the surface, Yoko Ono's Play It By Trust seems to be a smart and intuitive critique of the simple binary of war-conflict. By painting all of the pieces and squares white and positioning them in the traditional chess game opening formation, she immediately sets up a tension in which we seem to actually be waging war against ourselves. Once an imagined play begins and the pieces commingle (dare we say miscegenate?), they slowly start to lose their identity of standing opposite the other and the game tentatively suggests a metaphor for peace.

In any examination of chess play, however, we cannot just look at matters on the surface. We must admit the contours and perspectives of the volumetric, just as we must admit the unfolding of a particular linear timeframe while play emerges. Imagine this imagined game becoming material — momentarily — and its players using algebraic notation (eg. Nf3) to track the logistics of movement-play on the board, for even in Ono's chess-world the striations of the grid do still exist.

When the coding of the chess game moves almost strictly to the archival databank the pieces and squares cease to possess an "identity" in any traditional sense, save for abstract locational information at discrete moments in time. They do not stand embodied for anything in particular, save the continual generation of the code. As Deleuze would suggest, they have become dividuals.

Since the entire game could be played via notation at this point — which, in fact, is what happens with computer chess — maintaining any relation to Ono's white pieces remains strictly an exercise in sensuality and the act of touching or moving-with in touch. This is the only reason they need remain. Viewed from this perspective, Ono does not show us a peaceful future world in which the binary oppositions of black versus white cease to exist, but rather demonstrates the ultimate uselessness of the material body in its becoming-information. While at a "surface" level seeming to embrace hybridity and one-ness with the other — in the most postmodern, imperial sense put forth by Hardt and Negri — this chess world remains connected, disconnected and otherwise modulated by streams of data, perspectival vision, and the archive.

And so the question we must ask of Yoko Ono stands insistent: is the game being archived? In the contemporary age of "archive fever," is the game being coded, notated, recorded or inscribed, saved, secured — in short, remembered? If there were no hands moving the pieces around the board, but only the pieces collectively moving themselves, would such archiving occur nonetheless — perhaps automatically, as a new form of instant karma?

play it for as long as you can remember
who is your opponent and
who is your own self. (yoko ono)

Or do we refuse the archive? Do we retain tactility? Do we encounter the inevitable confusion once the board becomes more chaotic during middle and endgames? Do we collectively remember and resolve the confusion?

Do we collectively forget and allow certain memories to slip away, or fade to black?

Courtesy of Barbara Fornssler

(thanks to the switch, who is both black and/or white if i remember correctly)