Sampling Jordan Crandall

What percentage of the truly cool things you find on the Internet occur via completely random Net surfing sessions? It has to be at least a third for me. I was fortunate enough the other day to come across a review of the work of Jordan Crandall, a name that seemed familiar to me. Digging around a bit, I learned that this was the same person who had written an interesting piece for Life In The Wires, titled "Unmanned: Embedded Reporters, Predator Drones and Armed Perception".

From there, I linked to his personal web site, where I found a corpus of work dealing with surveillance, mobilities, fitness and the body athletic. I want to sample three of those pieces here (all of which have been published by CTHEORY), "Bodies on the Circuit", "Ass in Gear", and "Fitness in Wartime". I look forward to learning more about Jordan's work.

Bodies on the Circuit (1997)

Here the body sandwiches itself into a machine, pressed against a smooth contoured surface that has been molded to couple with it, holding it rigid. Securely in place, joints aligned, attention and orientation adjusted, it performs precise, prescribed movements along optimized ranges of motion, internalizing a rhythm of repetition that becomes nearly habitual. The goal is to 'pump up' and literally morph the body into some idealized image held in one's mind like a carrot at the end of a stick. This image is a composite, patched together or collated from vast arrays of representations and self-reflections. Fragmentary and fleeting like a music video, these image-fragments beat to the pulses of the repetitions - 1! 2! 3! — as one interpolates one's body into them, while simultaneously pummeling them directly into the body substrate, as if plying it through sheer force of will. Regarding oneself in the mirror, one sees the idealized images superimposed, stacked up upon and within one's reflection, shuffling, merging, and separating to the beat of the repetition scansion — 7! 8! 9! — and its pulsatile 'deep vision.' Through the conduit of image, enforced temporality, body, and machine, one changes the very contour of the flesh, simultaneously downloading and internalizing the image while uploading the body into the realm of representation. Gasp!

And now a short rest between sets.

Ass in Gear (1999)

A movement constituted through patterns of repetition, enmeshed in circuits, harnessed to social and technical machines. What better way of envisioning the exercise video — One! Two! Three! — and the body-database? In either case, counting equals accounting for, and the body is formatted through arrays of variables and calculations. Movement configures as a kind of statistical articulation. Based on behavior and preference data, as tracked, abstracted, and aggregated in the database, X might, for example, show a 59.6% propensity to move towards Y. As individuals and groups are processed, the public configures as a calculus of manageable interests, opinions, patterns, and functions. This ever more precise and "protective" statistical ventriloquization — stretching over speech like a prophylactic or over pumped-up flesh like spandex — becomes an authentic voice of the people. A marker of speech and presence, a way in which the public is heard and made visible. The machine-image — the exercise-interface — is thus a politicized field of incorporation and identification, marking a network through which social identities and embodied forms are signaled and enacted.

Fitness in Wartime (2001)

Exit couchpotato and screen, meatself and monitor, at home and clicking away upon command. We no longer have subjects and objects that sit; we have relays or clusters through which forms and movements coalesce. We have body/machine/movement clusters, into which a fitting (weapon-gadget) is introduced, and which is enmeshed in an incorporative/integrative dynamic: its visual faculty extended through the network, its rhythms intertwined within the demands and enhancements offered by communications and battle machines, its body lodged within a protective encasing or squeezed within an invasive projectile.