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.

eye spot the law, and the . . .

nfl instant replay

with the assistance of instant replay, the media announcers of sports spectacle often modulate the rule of the referee (and the Law) — at least in the court of public opinion. which is then also to say in the boardrooms of vectoral capital, where the Law is written. the referee here should be understood as a chimera of policeman (the whistle) and judge (the penalty meted).

this modulation of the rule is three-fold: first, "bad" calls made in real time which the television broadcast instant replay shows to be wrong after the fact; second, the use of video review as a training tool by officials themselves; and finally, the introduction of instant replay during games as a means of adjudicating the Law itself.

concerning this latter use of instant replay in adjudication, it may be initiated in one of three ways: the coach (a complainant), the referee (policeman and judge), or the league (vectoral capitalists whose governance system writes the Law).

the NFL, for example, has a limited number of coach's challenges that use instant replay, as well as certain rules codified by the league in which all instances must be reviewed automatically (eg. touchdowns in the final two minutes). to my knowledge, there are no situations in which the referee has the discretion alone to initiate an instant replay review.

in the NBA, on the other hand, the referee may initiate an instant replay review, though under a discretion limited to certain categories of instances — such as "important" out of bounds calls. there are no coach's challenges, but the league still mandates certain categories in which all instances must be reviewed — such as buzzer-beater shots at the end of any quarter.

the Law constitutes the rules of the game, in other words, but also the rules that govern a league, which are different, though unrelated things. it isn't the rules that are under dispute in any particular ludic case, but rather the plays themselves and their provisional judgements (the differend). it is the play that is being reviewed and the play that has become problematized by television and spectators.

these human policemen and judges are fallible, and sport is a game. its "objectivity" is ambiguous at best, and moreover a product of modernity. instant replay was not brought in at the outset to remedy those "imperceptibles" of human vision and judgement, but is rather a byproduct of television and the subsequent flows of public opinion, nielsen ratings, etc., it produces.

this won't mean nothing to you.

chip time and fuzzy geolocation. these are the watchwords of a sport at the vanguard of control. a swarm of runners channeled for 26.2 miles down a long corridor, tagged like insects in a laboratory experiment. the clock-foot is synchronized to the clock-eye, which swarms in turn around the course of events, ticking.

touching. spools of clock-skin are spun out along the channel, spun around the city, spun across the network: not a dermal whole, as with a text or a book, but part-fibres that twitch with every passing muscular stepflayed skinny one might suggest as the weaving unfolds.

misty-eyed. the insects run and spray numbers everywhere: we know inexactly where your code is in the swarm at all times.

chicago 2012

"Digital technologies have a connection to the potential and the virtual only through the analog. Take word processing. All of the possible combinations of letters and words are enveloped in the zeros and ones of ASCII code. You could say that entire language systems are numerically enveloped in it. But what is processed inside the computer is code, not words. The words appear on screen, in being read. Reading is the qualitative transformation of alphabetical figures into figures of speech and thought. This is an analog process. Outside its appearance, the digital is electronic nothingness, pure systemic possibility. Its appearance from electronic limbo is one with its electronic transformation. Now take digital sound: a misnomer. The sound is as analog as ever, at least on the playback end, and usually at the recording end as well (the exception being entirely synthesized music). It is only the coding of the sound that is digital. The digital is sandwiched between an analog disappearance into code at the recording and an analog appearance out of code at the listening end.

Take hypertext. All possible links in the system are programmatically prearrayed in its architecture. This has lead some critics to characterize it not as liberating but as downright totalitarian. While useful to draw attention to the politics of the possible, calling hypertext totalitarian is inaccurate. What it fails to appreciate is that the coding is not the whole story: that the digital always circuits into the analog. The digital, a form of inactuality, must be actualized. That is its quotient of openness. The freedom of hypertext is in the openness of its analog reception. The hypertext reader does something that the co-presence of alternative states in code cannot ever do: serially experience effects, accumulate them in an unprogrammed way, in a way that intensifies, creating resonances and interference patterns moving through the successive, linked appearances."

– Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual, p.138

chicago 2012

the whole thing is partly inexact.

no, the code is in the miles and the sweat and the pain and the fatigue and the stretching and the training partners and the dirty laundry and the calories and the, and the, and the pantpantpanting.

and then it's in the code. after that, these alphanumerics — but more precisely, the numbers that drive the text and image — have a felt-ness of context and can mean something across the planet, mean something more than just a clinical dividuality given substance as a temporary-or-forever object of information. they can produce new intensities in turn — and call these latter human if you must.

chicago 2012

what kinds of meanings, though, or what kinds of intensities? what kinds of affects can these numbers produce from the ocular mist?

proximal, yet missed. some programs have more of an openness than others: did playing fantasy sports or videogames ever make you want to cry?


(lkl 7039: you made it look like a walk in the pahhhk.)

a 21st century portrait

a 21st century portrait


skiing drone

A TV drone flies beside Canada's Erick Guay during the second practice of the men's Alpine skiing World Cup downhill race at the Lauberhorn in Wengen, January 12, 2012. (Reuters)

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"Sony's first video recorders were actually not designed for household use, but rather for the surveillance of shopping centers, prisons, and other centers of power, but through the misuse of army equipment users themselves also succeeded in mutating into television reporters and cutters. Television has since become a closed system that can process, store, and transmit data at the same time and thus allows every possible trick or manipulation, like film or music electronics. And every video clip shows how far the tricks of music and optics have surpassed the speed of film. The pleasure afforded by this technology should not allow two things to be forgotten: the television always also remains a form of worldwide surveillance through spy satellites, and even as a closed information system it still represents a generalized assault on other optical media."

– Friedrich Kittler, Optical Media, p.221

simulation and control

(to be presented at the 2012 north american society for sport sociology conference in new orleans)

Tecmo Bowl

Three Simulations: Deleuzian Control Societies and Topologies of Temporary Enclosure

Sport scholars have for some time recognized the disciplinary apparatuses and techniques that govern modern sport and its athletic bodies (eg. Shogan, Bale, Smith, Markula). In the case of professional and quasi-amateur high performance sport, these enclosed, disciplinary sporting spaces have increasingly been permeated through with a variety of networked information and visualization technologies, both to improve productive efficiency on the field of play as well as to create more spectacular products to be sold on the entertainment markets. In this paper offering a case study of the Super Bowl football game, we explore Deleuze's notion of a "control society" emerging within a "crisis" of the disciplinary enclosure by engaging the concept of "simulation" seen in the works of three other thinkers: Foucault, Baudrillard and Virilio. Enclosure itself is understood as a topological form in the control society, in which regimes of the "visible" and "articulable" serve to govern the folds between outside and in.