La Paracite

Ithaca poster

Department of Biological Flow

"Let's return to the banquet of men, always interrupted. So who are the gods? The ones whose meals are never interrupted. The immortal is the eternal reveller. Look at Simonides at the banquet: he eats and drinks as he pleases, quite in the position of a parasite. He stuffs himself and gets drunk for his freely given verse; he pays his select table companions and their good food in word. But someone disturbed the dinner. At the door of the room, they heard a noise. Simonides runs off, but no one else follows him. No one of the cohort misses a bite. But the cohort is wrong, for its members are about to die."

– Michel Serres, "Athlete's Meals," The Parasite, p.31

Beware, Surfers

Simcoe Wavedeck

Figure 3. Simcoe WaveDeck, Toronto, ON: "No rollerblades, skateboards or bicycles on the deck."

Beware, Surfers

Courtesy of Google Wave

Figure 2. A "new model for communication" to improve productivity "even when you're having fun".

Somatic Flux, Tactile Burden

The contemporary city: a site of decaying spaces and shiny interfaces. A meshwork of subjectivities accelerating faster than the ability of our own embodiment to keep up. The question today has become one of embodiment. Does the body sense? Does the body move or create?

Is the body liquid?

Swimming pool. Pond at the local park. Damp mist that turns to shower that turns to driving downpour. Gutters, storm drains, and underground conduits of wastewater. Evaporating sweat from the back of the road construction worker, the broker in the trading pit, or the athlete at the stadium. Aqua may be found all over the city, flows coursing independently yet bound up with one another as well as with larger processes in patterns binary, circular and linear.

Green grass at the park. Humming streets. Golf course turf. Designer architecture. Chipped concrete curbs and asphault blacktop. Abandoned lots. Thatch and decomposing undergrowth. What aqua gives (life), it also takes away (decay). Speed makes us forget sometimes that the solidity of terra is itself bound up in liquid processes, which perhaps take just a little longer to witness visually.

Aqua has a diversified rapport with terra in the folds of the contemporary city, sometimes as signal and other times as noise to the constantly throbbing rhythms of dwelling and commerce. The tree, the pond, the park, the rain: all connected by fluxes of people navigating, tracing and inscribing the urban everyday. Always flowing. Never trapped, enclosed or solid.

Is the body liquid?

Traditionally, the playmaker has been the figure in sports who makes plays, that is, who manufactures positive outcomes in the clutch, who embodies drill, discipline, execution and repetition. But a new logic of bodies and flow is emerging in cities around the world. Existing energy systems become the locus of creative possibility for the athletic body, as we witness with the street skateboarder, the snowboarder, or the parkour athlete who contours and traces asphault, concrete, bricks and mortar on runs through the urban cityscape.

A challenge has been issued to the sprinter and marathoner. Increasingly seen as products of the industrial laboratory, they stand markedly in contrast to the flowing body and the growing variety of energetic systems in which it realizes its potential. But we need not be describing these figures as mutually exclusive. Merge art and science, fold this emerging dynamism back upon the runner, imagine the urban as a field of sporting possibility and ride the somatic flux of pedestrian traffic through the streets, concourses and plazas. For it is the human body, in both singular and plural form, that connects together the various flows of aqua and terra in the contemporary city.

Instead of making plays, one must now embrace the challenge of making play, rescuing it from the seriousness of industrial manufacture and the factory production model. To make plays, one blocks out the noise of the crowd and visualizes the task at hand. To make play, by contrast, one embraces and engages the noise of the crowd, sensing one's self in space as an affective body, athletic and full of creative potential.

Find the points of intersection between binary, circular and linear forms. Ride the interference waves in the oscillation between signal and noise. Make play. Flow. This constitutes the tactile burden of all playmakers, regardless of their material habitat: to feel the heaviness of the body at the same moment one feels the lightness of its liquidity. To move, perform, create, liberate.

Is the body liquid?

* * *

(final copy of a text that was to be published in a design catalogue by a major athletic footwear and apparel company; catalogue deep-sixed due to budget concerns amid the worldwide crisis of neoliberalism)

A Springtime Love Letter to RECL 4P21


Don't wait to be told what to do, how to share information, how to think!

Thank you for the invitation, but I shall decline. Too much surveillance already, no? ;)

Good work. You're getting it.


Emergence of the Switch

Ithaca poster

"It may seem odd to insist that a relation has an ontological status separate from the terms of the relation. But, as the work of Gilles Deleuze repeatedly emphasizes, it is in fact an indispensable step toward conceptualizing change as anything more or other than a negation, deviation, rupture, or subversion" (Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, p.70).

Barb - Ithaca

(congratulations to barb fornssler on her successful introduction to the academic conference circuit)