(down the rabbit) holey space

a breath of fresh air, redolent of vuvuzela blossoms

there was a public outdoor screening on a restaurant wall a few nights ago at the end of the street where i live: "bangladesh defeats england in historic cricket victory." it was not projected through the partition but rather reflected upon the building’s facade. closer, yet further away.

oh, i *do* remember our identity tourism in tucson. there were cast-iron sculptures of lisa nakamura's body on every building, just like antony gormley in london. "inverted post-colonialism," i think, was the vogue.

context is not only a spatiotemporal phenomenon, but a (matrixial) psychic phenomenon as well. context suggests an increasing tendency towards harmonized (and dare we say synchronized?) co-resonance. it seems to me that context itself constitutes the stasis of monotony and that the coming-into resonance of and through alterity is what creates the openness.

did you know that amsterdam is the steampunk version of second life? delanda said they created this shit back in the 1400s! and then at some point lewis carroll wrote a virus and messed up the code. the game still plays in my console, but the graphics are a little distorted, you know?

how does third place, the "runner up in the exceptional case," change the relation between numbers one and two ("the best winners")? the ontogenesis of the third is an alter-accomplishment in its own right, no? how do we understand the third in terms of multitude and the very being-in-language of which virno, agamben and nancy speak? how does the third come into resonance of and through alterity? is openness created?

children both shy and fearless; translation, mistranslation, smiling without voices; does it really matter? tonality, don't think in terms of romanization! a new iron curtain; public, private, third spaces; be a switch; but it wouldn't be a very honest emotion if you could turn it off like a switch.

or am i flailing?

crushed blossoms in a vase of water

micro, current

December, 2008: Deleuze and Guattari weren't totally correct. Surfing is not necessarily about entering into an existing energetic system in and of itself, as much as it is about riding the turbulent, frothy edge between signal and becoming-noise. In the case of gait surfing, there is an entering into the energetic system of the flow of pedestrian traffic, but this traffic is itself produced by the muscular energies of the individual body. We are still exerting a force within the striations of the urban environment, that is, the biomechanical leveraging of the musculoskeletal system towards a particular linear vector of production. But when examined intensively, this linear flow-in-theory has different internal paces, rhythms, deviations from normal gaits, errors, noise, speeds, purposes and objectives, cultural histories — and indeed, an entire erotics in its relationality to the unfoldings of the several.

It is these anomalies that constitute the minor perturbations in a flow that may thereafter become chaotic attractors and create turbulence (cf. DeLanda). We find in the aggregate from these perturbations in bodily locomotive style the corporeal jetwash or break point between signal and becoming-noise of the urban gait surfer — not unlike a television picture in which one can see the dopplered images of visual signal and snowy static noise.

March, 2009: We are left with a conundrum: How to communicate the existence of embodied surfing potential in its myriad forms and work towards realizing such a new perhaps-radical politics without documenting the performance and contributing to a regressive politics of representation, fear and desire? This conundrum has lurked in the shadows for centuries, embedded in what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as the hydraulics of nomad science. One cannot document the act of surfing, the poiesis of being-in-body and becoming. Like secret whispers passed throughout history from breath to ear, then, one can only document the wave.

Collective Forgetting

In a normal basketball game, score is a marker of difference. It provides a purportedly objective measure of which team was better able to meet the primary goal of the game, namely to score more baskets than one's opponent.

GVB Eq.1

As such, score has a subtractive aspect to it, in which the difference between the scores of the two teams, a and b, becomes a margin of victory c (and we must remember that in almost all North American team sports c cannot equal 0, for tie scores are anathema). In professional contexts this value c is then compared to Vegas point spreads to determine an even more "authentic" victor, one determined by the logic of the market.

The inaugural Global Village Basketball event treated score in a slightly different manner. While Red and Blue teams were indeed competing against one another on a local basis in six countries around the world, and as such followed the formula outlined above, score was also used as a means of linking the various games together into one meta-game. In this sense score became additive, with the goal to collectively score as many baskets together worldwide as possible.

GVB Eq.2

In other words, we may describe an aggregated score d that adds together the Red score and Blue score to show the collective production of those around the world who played in the game.

Of course, d isn't simply a singular Red score added to a singular Blue score, but rather the sum of all local game scores and their additive characteristics:

GVB Eq.3

But even this formula doesn't tell the whole story, for there is an error coefficient that exists at each local game event that accumulates across the network. As we know, this error exists even in the most carefully constructed apparatus of truth that is professional basketball. But it is far more pronounced in the pickup version of the game, when all participants are in the process of playing and there is no external governing authority responsible for the role of archon and the accorded hermeneutic right to interpret the archive, or scoresheet (cf. Derrida).

GVB Eq.4

Let us say, for example, that a game of pickup basketball is played in which the first team to seven baskets is declared the winner. The game begins, the action moves up and down the floor, always in flux, and baskets are scored. After a while one of the players shouts out the query: "Score?"

"4-2," someone responds.

"Oh no, it's only 3-2," counters an opponent.

A dispute arises, however banal, and play temporarily comes to a halt.

Everyone plays, everyone performs. In their running and passing and shooting and sweating everyone participates in a collective act of forgetting. What ensues in the absence of an external governing authority granted the "hermeneutic right" to maintain and interpret the archive is a local oral micro-history of the game. Rather than an archive, the memory of score becomes a distributed, communitarian process of orality and embodiment.


This is not as trivial as it seems. Once such a rupture in basketball-flux arises, there is no external referent from which the assembled athletes may regain their bearings. In practice, it might play out something like the following. The opponent says, "OK, who scored your 4 baskets then?" Since both sides agreed that at least 3 baskets had been scored, the group quickly identifies who had scored those.

But the fourth basket proves surprisingly elusive. Someone suggests that Brown scored the fourth on a slashing drive to the hoop. And here is where we find the greatest moment of contrast between the archive and the attempt to overcome collective forgetting. In the former instance, we have a remote locus of surveillant optics as with the Foucauldian disciplinary diagram, which gives us the official basketball scoresheet. In the latter, the perspective-as-memory is fragmented and scattered around the court, with each part-locus of the collective gaze turned toward the path or trajectory through which Brown allegedly passed to score the basket.

This is not simply an optic phenomenon. Each person who may have witnessed the basket taking place actually retrieves in an embodied sense one's memory of self located where they were at the moment of the drive and shot attempt, rhythmically relative to Brown and each of the other bodies on the court. The "visual" memory of the basket does not take place without this somatic relocation in memory. As Brian Massumi suggests, "Where we go to find ourselves when we are lost is where the senses fold into and out of each. We always find ourselves in this fold in experience" (PftV, p. 182, emphasis in original).

In this case, however, the fold is not an individual experience but one that is collective and relational. And it is not perfect, but fuzzy. If enough players on both teams are able to retrieve from this folding of sense-dimensions a memory of the basket, then the group agrees to count it towards the score — or, put differently, to treat it as a knowable object of truth.

And the game goes on.

* * *

GVB Eq.4

As a mathematical-linguistic construct, the last equation shown best describes the structural form of score as it is used in the Global Village Basketball game: what DeLanda describes as an intercalary element that condenses the gaseous particles of pickup sport into liquid form. But the epsilon that signifies error in the model should also at once signify embodiment. For the flesh as a way of knowing always contains a zone of error, negotiation and approximation. It is decidedly imperfect in a positivist sense yet often good enough to reach compromise or agreement, and for that very reason should be embraced in those nebulous arrangements we call community.

Happy Mother's Day


[03/05/2009 1:58:39 PM]

sportsbabel says: please say thanks to your mom……!
sportsbabel says: you are our relation……
sportsbabel says: (smiley)

[03/05/2009 1:58:55 PM]

time, biorhythms, socius

Timetable - HomeShop

Starting with a grid and a timeline, a certain series of Events align themselves on a planar network. These Events have been a topic of discussion for quite some time now, and in the downward ticking of imminent certainty, it becomes calm again; preparatory activities come to a close, exteriors are hastily shined and construction sites moved to interiors, or we ourselves have left the premises, fearing the heated Spectacle to come. Yet despite the structure of the grid and the timetable and the past years of meticulous planning (they have replaced and re-installed new litter bins on our street twice since the winter), there is still something a little more than abstract about these Eights, and that little something rests, for most of us, on the issue of accessibility. Are you going to the Olympics? And to turn the question around, whether or not we are granted access, what has the imposition of the Games taken from us?

(from the call for participation text, homeshop series number one: games 2008)

* * *

The earliest call for participation and proposal text for the HomeShop project made explicit through word and image the desire to juxtapose the formal timetables of the Olympic Games with the more rhythmic sense of time and indeterminacy found in Xiaojingchang Hutong, and in that modest attempt lies quite a significant interrogation of power.

It is one thing to suggest that television has substantial implications for the collective biopower of the athletes, but quite another when one considers the sheer number of broadcasters involved in the worldwide transmission of the Olympic Games and how this magnifies the problem. NBC, the American host broadcaster, paid such an exorbitant sum for the domestic rights to show the Games that it had the bargaining power to demand certain events in Beijing conform to broadcast timetables in the United States. Swimming was of such importance to the American viewing public — particularly since Michael Phelps would be questing for eight gold medals — that NBC demanded the swimming finals be held first thing in the morning Beijing time so that they would be available live to a U.S. prime-time audience. This has substantial implications for the biorhythms of elite swimmers, who normally swim final events in the evening.

It is AC Nielsen, whose screenal day runs from 06:00 to 29:59 EST, that controls the regime of contemporary sporting biopolitics!

No lap around the sun, this, but rather a crepuscular dawn.

On the other hand, we have the very local rhythms of Xiaojingchang Hutong. Not only was the timetable of HomeShop very loosely arranged and articulated, with Beijing-based artists and local community residents arriving for formal events or dropping by to informally chat, but the biorhythms of the interpersonal were also more presently at the fore. This may have been manifest in any number of ways: through the weather, the heat, the sharing of water or suan mei tang (traditional Chinese plum juice); through the lighting of cigarettes for another or the musical stylings of DJ Mellow Yellow; through the staccato hesitations of translation between Chinese and English or the frustrated haltings in absence of such translation.

All part of a flow — not the regulated flow of the Olympic timetable and its conduits of tourist passage, public transit and commercial exchange, but the micro-flow of the neighbourhood, those swirling eddies in the liminal space where public and private bleed into one another, and whose non-linear dynamics create the potential for threshold events to occur (cf. DeLanda).

I mention this because the indeterminacies fostered by HomeShop and its local sense of time created quite a wonderful outcome as it related to the Loser's Party and the wii would like to play // we don't have tickets event. Quite unintentionally, we competed with the wii videogame version of the 100-metre dash to see who could be the most average competitor at the very same time that Usain Bolt ran the fastest 100-metre sprint in human history. This would be sacrilege to the political economy of speed, if only we didn't know it would happen again in four years' time!

And here, the local "timetable" created the athletic biorhythms from which a socius emerged.

(a work-in-process between elaine w. ho and sean smith towards "17 days in beijing: screen of consciousness on the micropolitical," a text for public issue 40)

Discipline :: Topology :: Control

Since Deleuze introduced the concept of the control society, thinkers have tried to gauge its precise character and sportsBabel has worked to make a contribution to that end. But we must keep in mind that the original title has "sociétés de contrôle" in the plural. That is, Deleuze suggests there are multiple societies of control, each effecting its own intensive modulation of subjects as its disciplinary apparatus and spaces of enclosure are in decline or crisis. Each of these is interconnected by other modulations at different levels of assembly (cf. DeLanda).

Panhapticism in Ljubljana

panhapticism as graffiti in ljubljana:
vision and touch intersect at the nexus of control

Do not mix models, Deleuze and Guattari remind us: sport will have its own modulations, its own relations with and passages between striated and smooth, optic and haptic, and back again.

But with sport, at least, the disciplinary spaces of enclosure do not appear to be in crisis. Rather, they appear to exist as moments within a larger sportocratic trajectory. Brian Massumi offers us guidance towards understanding this trajectory — or rather transformation — by asking us to consider architecture topologically, in which Euclidean space is an instance, a point in time raised to the level of the three-dimensional — in short, a metric moment of a topological transformation or process.

The distinction that is most relevant here is between topological transformation and static geometric figure: between the process of arriving at a form through continuous deformation and the determinate form arrived at when the process stops. An infinite number of static figures may be extracted from a single topological transformation. The transformation is a kind of superfigure that is defined not by invariant formal properties but by continuity of transformation. … Anything left standing when the deformation is stopped at any moment, in its passage through any point in between, also belongs to their shared figure. The overall topological figure is continuous and multiple. As a transformation, it is defined by vectors rather than coordinate points. A vector is transpositional: a moving-through points. Because of its vectorial nature, the geometry of the topological superfigure cannot be separated from its duration. The figure is what runs through an infinity of static figures. It is not itself determinate, but determinable. Each static figure stands for its determination but does not exhaust it (Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, p. 184).

In this case, Massumi is discussing the challenge for architecture to respond to topology as the experiential condition of individual human beings. In his view, our being-in-the-world as sensing subjects involves a "synesthetic cooperation" between exoreferential fixed visual perception and self-referentially dynamic internal proprioception as they fold forward and back into one another. But what if we are talking about the administrative apparatus instead, the architecture that adjudicates the social body as well as the individual body?

In its high performance sporting sense, the moment (or static figure) at which the topological superfigure comes to rest is the space and time that we traditionally understand as the site of athletic competition. It was John Bale who first explicitly formalized the sport stadium in these terms, but the stadium's disciplinary character was already understood implicitly by the sociologist Jean-Marie Brohm with his "prison of measured time," and even earlier in George Perec's novel W ou le souvenir d'enfance, which juxtaposes a narrative set in the stadium against one set in the concentration camp.

At this particular level of assemblage the stadium is a Euclidean space: enclosed, partitioned, and adjudicated with a perspectival optic gaze. The athletes, support personnel and spectators become objects of information within this sporting apparatus, numerically inscribed and tracked at various checkpoints. They each become part of an archive-creation process as well as an atomized element against which archives are tested.

Only thereafter, when the competition nominally ends, does the topology become apparent. Specimen samples are withdrawn from the athletic body for anti-doping testing procedures. While authorities originally captured the "waste" byproduct of urine for testing, today the range of signifying vectors has expanded to include blood and DNA, which are effectively "living tissue" insofar as they contain the biological code to recreate human life. To counter against doping procedures or drug technologies in use today but in the absence of a feasible test to ferret them out, the World Anti-Doping Agency has instituted an 8-year statute of limitations within which newly-discovered tests may be retroactively applied to old samples and results changed. In other words, the competition still continues for eight years after the interim winners have been announced.

As such, the samples of "living tissue" that leave the disciplinary spaces of sport are themselves part of the space of competition. Wherever they travel — by vehicle to some laboratory or by telecommunication channel to some database — the site of competition topologically transforms to match this space. Massumi, once again (in repetition and difference): Because of its vectorial nature, the geometry of the topological superfigure cannot be separated from its duration.

Rather than modern sport being a disciplinary institution in "crisis" yielding to an institution of control, then, it appears that its disciplinary spaces continue to exist albeit as discrete moments or static figures in the overall topology of high performance athletic competition. The topological superfigure itself — the vectorial transformation — is what we understand today as the crisis: a smooth space of intensities that the institution of control attempts to administer by riding and arresting the flow, what Deleuze and Guattari describe as an effort to "utilize smooth spaces as a means of communication in the service of striated space" (A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 385). Instead of the panoptic gaze taking measure within a static figure, the panhaptic touch-sense modulates within the transformation to render it optic at every possible moment: a tactile, digital interplay between the senses, a haptic-made-optic.