The NHL is the top hockey league in the world, and if we are looking at this from a sports production standpoint this means we are describing the most highly skilled manufacture of competition and uncertain hockey outcomes on the planet, as an ongoing concern — which is to say as a matter of accumulation rather than the elite event-based production of the Olympics.
But of course the game is also about the production of spectacle, of audience aggregation and synthetic storylines and target marketing — and thus the most highly skilled manufacture of sporting gesture and its transmission, of affective receptivity, of qualified fanaticism and quantified consumerism.
For most of the 20th century, as John Bale points out, the former has meant an increasingly hygienic space of sporting production, in which the values of achievement sport most desired by accumulation find their way into the daily churn of the professional sport industry. In a sense, it was not simply a standardization that mattered but the removal of noise which could otherwise contaminate the truth of the results.
And for most of the 20th century spectacle played along, developing an increasingly elaborate logistics of perception to disguise production altogether and present the viscera of pure, competitive play-at-work. The surgicality of the endeavour is even more pronounced here, with thousands of sensory cuts rendered and stitched together to somehow produce the skin of a sporting Gesamtkunstwerk.
Which is what makes the NHL's Winter Classic so interesting: by playing the game outdoors and subject to the elements (snow, wind, glare), not only is a particular sporting nostalgia of backyard shinny and pond hockey revived, but spectacle itself becomes more spectacular by explicitly refusing the hygienic paradigm of modern sport. Noise is introduced, friction enters the system, and by the standards of achievement sport the event's game production occurs at a shockingly substandard level.
There is a refusal of hygiene in the play-at-work space, but only by cutting through the spatiotemporal fold and admitting the past. A futural noise, friction or filth would still be unimaginable here.
If there is in fact a zone in which the past-present of the Winter Classic meets the future, it remains bound with that other element of achievement sport — the record. Only the record of interest here is one of accumulation: the largest crowd in hockey history ever to witness a live contest, as 105,491 jammed into the University of Michigan football stadium to watch the game.
And hence the flaw in Bale's analysis: for him, pace Baudrillard and Virilio, it was the television audience that was always right and so to perfectly satisfy the hygienic requirements of achievement sport the spectators at the live event had to be removed, leaving behind only an inert ludic container in which the game could be played, fair play assesed, and television imagery produced. But it appears that accumulation is never so teleological, the crowd is precisely necessary to give the alibi to spectacle, and it is hygienic achievement which can be removed from the equation and left behind without losing a truth verdict in the process.
In this case, witness-noise makes a virtue of production-noise to set a nostalgic record, though one wonders what the hyperbolic curve will demand as it increasingly detaches from its counterpart in linear accumulation.
We speak often of the relative rigidity of late modern sports, of the hard lines that constitute their disciplinary diagrams and rigorous production of athletic bodies and somewhat statistically-determinate "uncertain" outcomes. We are aware that these lines are in fact legislated as planes and that the sporting space is usually regulated as a volume rather than strictly a spectacular surface.
But it bears remembering that if the stadium is the factory of postmodern sporting production, then it is a certain plasticity which allows one form of assembly to substitute for another on the production line. Put differently, if the NFL is so easily able to transfer production to Wembley Stadium in London, or the FA is likewise able to travel to Washington for production at RFK, it is not only due to a relative congruity or topology between the rectangles that constitute gridiron and association football codes, respectively, but also to certain malleabilities in material and discursive space.
That turfgrass grows sufficiently long for it to be mowed and erase the very "painterly" conditions that govern production in other forms of sporting assembly, for example, is highly relevant to this modularity — an artificial green ecology in the service of a plastic injection moulding called sporting spectacle. And the televisual possibilities of programmed camera angles, intensive lighting, overlay graphics and audio commentary to constitute a coherent and consistent sporting narrative from anywhere in the world only adds to this plastic capability.
Indeed, what is most potentially intractable in this calculation of malleability is the plasticity of the live crowd in attendance at the factory. To what degree can this fleshy thirdness between sporting capital and televisual spectator mediate and suture together the filaments of an experience both synthetically fibrous and viscerally empirical? This is what is at stake in the economic decision to produce or shut down in non-local contexts under the contemporary conditions of plasticity.
(thank you to amy for reminding me about "craptacular" or substandard production under certain plastic conditions. ;)
kleinian kisses need stitching
breathing, and leaking
at the seams
seems like only yesterday
you tore free
from me, in me
and me to be
come, rated as such and dated as much
blue breath whispers
time written flee
this veering theme
explosive dreams need sequencing
mines stuttering cuts and pasting
three stitches or less
impulsive tears by the tens
in another frame of mine
images of thought lying tattered
knead breath, defibrilly
(for all the gadflies and barflies.)
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 step — flayed skinny one might suggest as the weaving unfolds.
"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
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.
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.)
if i .gif
it fit i, ft
fifi tit gig ggg
if i .tiff
fi tig g.i.
i fit figt (sorry saroyan gif)
if i fit it
iff i fit it
i gift it.
gigg(igg(igg))) )) ) :)