walking is knowing (or, where it all began)

art\'n\'leather

(short ambulatory notes concerning longer ambulatory thoughts…)

 

kalverstraat
no matter where one spins in amsterdam, all roads lead to kalverstraat. the sucking sound you hear is the capture of "psychogeographical" drifts by a canalization of flows that has biogrammed from water to land. tourists and travellers alike may wander and wander and yet still find themselves emerging into this tight pedestrian corridor with its heavy flows and flashy storefronts. the sucking sound is doubled: it is also the money flowing out of collective pockets, from one drain to another. and doubled again: perhaps not the sound of money flowing out to consumption now, but rather its haunting forebear, which presents the street as a series of volumetric television commercials corresponding through brand semiotics to some future purchase in a more diffused breathing space. the second sucking sound is faint to our ears, then, since it is expressed in thinner air—from canal to liquid spectacle to mist.

kalverstraat is also good for gait surfing.

 

nassaukade
large grids meet "circles" (and their tiny grids within) at nassaukade. the wandering lines of the canal force their way onto land as gentle waves, channeling walkways, streets, bike paths and building facades. these wavy contours open peculiar spaces—somewhat straight, somewhat curvilinear—which for now fashion themselves as parking lots, tiny parks or bike racks. this is a space of transition for the walker, from the teeming and vortical fluxes of centrum to the more aerated grids of the inner suburbs, and back again. and forth, again: in terms of spacing operations we are discussing relatively smooth and relatively striated, but rather than a twisting passage of holey space between the two we have the multiple switches of the amsterdam traffic lights to meter the variegaited flows.

 

centrum
with the large windows that seem to invite a sort of exhibitionism or voyeurism at every turn, it might be easy to view amsterdam and its centrum as a particular geometry of glass and gaze, lines of sight in which all subjects have their moments of greater or lesser exposure. likewise, as the turns and turns of the downtown core vibrate in slow sympathy with the canals and ocean beyond, it may feel like a body is always in the process of falling forward or being thrust into the next movement. but perhaps we are forgetting about the sonorous—the musical ringing of bells that seems to unite vision with gesture and delicately fill in all those tiny aporias of perception, volumetrically. church bells to mark time, tram bells to mark space, bicycle bells to negotiate relation at variable tempos: the melodies always seem to be coming from somewhere else, and yet their tiny shocks are what suture together passage and experience as one moves through this peculiar city. one wonders how spinoza the lens grinder listened as he walked the city streets.

 

oud-west
even if one isn't consciously seeking to purchase frequently as a traveller to amsterdam, consumption ends up meaning regular dealings in cash—perhaps moreso than when one is more firmly routinized at whatever contingency is called home, where its electronic transactions incur less of an economic burden in fees concerning permission to spend. this also means the eventual accumulation of coins in the pockets of those jeans or shorts or jackets which repetitively get their traveller's due. the accumulation is a weight worn, or borne: it doesn't take much before one notices a slight tweak in walking motion, a rubbing here or a slight heaviness there that imperceptibly modulates the musculoskeletal system. how do these subtle differences affect one's gait, one's walking through the city and the tiny eddies that fluidly swirl in the wake, microturbulent yet slightly askew from one's normative mode of ambulance? how do the gaited butterflies flap their wings just a little bit differently before the storm? or, alternatively: how does the topology unfold as spending lightens the metallurgic reserve?

 

overtoom
a geosophy in progress, in process: drifting, dancing, or simply matching strides. the flow is flowing, thoughtfully and yet thoughtlessly at the same instant. a relational autopiloting of ambulatory praxis emerges, bubbles umbilically folding within bubbles and so forth as the whole thing perceptually unfolds. the neighbourhood backstreets are quiet, perhaps perfect for a walking dialogue in this sense. though they also perform a sonic buffering in their neat gridlike formations, for all of a sudden the grid ends its southerly course—or more precisely opens into a closing: here the great tributary of oud-west that is overtoom bends and merges into the roaring river of the a10 ring road. vast horizontal vistas, for the most part nonexistent in the highly vertical inner core of the city, now open widely to the wide open eyes of the walker who has ceded a relative primacy to the automobiles in transit. the river appears too wide to ford, the drift comes to an abrupt halt, shockingly, as if hitting a pane of glass—but the geosophy continues.

 

elandsgracht
tempos. this is the watchword for walking in the neighbourhood of jordaan. perhaps more than the slower pace found in other inner suburbs, perhaps less than a vigorous walk along leidseplein or a dense, dreamlike stroll through kalverstraat, the main thoroughfares of jordaan offer a heterogeneous palette of fluxes to the walking subject. both residential and touristy, in this space one may walk with those struck awkward by the scenery or moving purposefully toward the daily errands—maybe chatting amiably in search of coffee or clustering in approach to the boulevard play area. a flock of segways passes anachronistically over a canal bridge, offering a new tempo to those which have already informed the city. while diagonal trajectories crisscross the street lanes or veer into local shops, the effect of this palette paints itself most pronounced within the narrow sidewalks that otherwise attempt to stream this heterogeneous mix into a consistency—not unlike the flock, or school, which passes by in the distance.

 

vondelpark
the lungs of amsterdam, both literally and figuratively, vondelpark certainly seems the most gaseous of all walking spots in the city. while well-paved bronchi weave and branch assuredly throughout the vast park as the primary conduits for multidirectional transit, it is the ability for walking-particles to become diffuse and mist out from these paths to the more vegetal alveoli that is of interest. contra the bikers, walkers and police vehicles that move along relatively predictable channels through these park-lungs, the more gaseous pedestrians are veering off on all sorts of vectors—mobile, aggregating and coming apart, informing and reforming anew. the movement of vision within this movement of gesture at vondelpark is intense: while the literal lungs of amsterdam attempt to photosynthetically restore a sort of equilibrium to the local green ecology, the figurative lungs of the city evoke an occurrent perception that affectively nudges the local machine ecology to disequilibrium and non-linear effects.

 

museumplein
a mere shell of vondelpark, the myriad trajectories of movement at museumplein form a figurative resemblance to the mistified bearings and breathings of the former, though in a somehow different way. the walkers are slower, perhaps, or maybe it is the rounded gravel underfoot that only seems to encourage stopping when one is literally arresting motion with a photographic lens. motion also arrests itself in the large lines that snake between the square and museums, constricting passage to those hygienic portals we call the global art market or cultural history. if iamsterdam in this space, then perhaps i've missed the point about this city all along—or maybe i was too busy trying to forget about the points in favour of its more fluid processes.

object-oriented pornography at leidseplein

Candida

what can a body do?
it do?

what can a body dooo?

do. be. dooo-be do.
dooo-be dooo-be do.

bop. bop.

do. be.
shop. drop.
bop. bop.

don't stop
till the be-beat
drop.

window shopstop
stop. stop.
flat top backdrop
see two-dee crop.

~
top. top.

don't stop
with the we-beat
crop.

pop. pop.
~

(dew bodies drop.)

do bodies do
what twooo can
do be?

or more be do
at the shopdrop
store white clean
hygiene
through looking
glass scene twooo
lean bodies lean to
glean do screen
bright tweened twin sheen

see sexed machine
boxy cloudspace to dream
tooo soft future shock
freed
steampunk scream

~
cloudy bodies do.
do dream what
can they do, see?
~

cloudspace themes
neat hygiene dreams
write mainfeed streams
feed cyborg steams
no touch low sheen
see free three-dee
free transfer freed
white light peep memes

shop. prop.
bop. bop.

don't stop
till the be-beat
drop.

~
top. top.

don't stop
with the we-see
cop.

pop. pop.
~

(two bodies drop.)

stop. prop.
bop. bop.

don't shop
till the we-beat
pop.

~

pop. pop.
dew be drop

do. be. dooo-be do.
dooo-be dooo-be

come,
body do.

_____

(apple superstore, leidseplein, amsterdam, 17:30)

LKL 5908

feet.

Thought-holograms from the Paris of the 22nd century.

The race begins as a point. Mile zero, time zero.

It is a teeming, trembling point, however: 45,000-strong and electric. Anticipatory, the point smudged out along the line it is about to suggest with its quantity of moving bodies. The point cannot be easily contained, even though it has been corralled. The point is a seething mass.

The point is a constellation of data points, actually, Achilles' heels morphed forward in the foot to the shoelaces and their expressive prosthetic transmitters.

As the gun fires to begin the race, this teeming point of running-bodies instantly dilates. There is a bifurcation of time at the very moment the marathon nominally begins, unique for each of the 45,000 strong. Two times: the "real" lived time of the race clock as the overall event unfolds, and the relative time of each moving body — indexed by radio frequency tag — as it finally crosses the start line to officially enter the event space and "begin" the race. Clock time versus chip time, the latter increasingly falling behind the former as one moves back through the corrals to the open entry gate and its unranked hordes.

Only clock time counts for official race results and ratified world records. Chip time does not serve any purpose in the adjudication of race results — at least in terms of authoritative measurements of the complete extension of the course. It seems it exists solely as an apologia to 99% of the runners that they are not the fastest in the world.

Indeed, the sole juridical function that chip time serves concerns the part-event, with its checkpoints and split times and implied paces segmenting the broader context. As Roberto Madrazo reminds us (in the name of St. Rosie of Bostonia), each checkpoint must be crossed in order, from start to finish. And if there are points of failure in this linear process — points at which chip time is not registered, either due to electronic defect, noise or subversion (ie. skipping a checkpoint) — any subsequently successful measurement cannot have been arrived at "too quickly" to be believed.

Madrazo cheated all too well!!

normal distribution curve, marathoning....

The race begins as a point but it very soon becomes a line, or more precisely, a curve. The race is the embodied manifestation of the normal distribution curve spreading out over asphault and concrete and steel and rock. From outliers to six-sigmas to outliers, from swift loping strides at the front of the pack to a mixed cacophony of running gaits and styles in the middle to the plodders who bring up the rear: each mile that passes expresses the modulation of kurtosis and skew as thicknesses of running-bodies.

The x-axis of this normal distribution curve, time, finds its striations also embodied in the race proper. Pace rabbits run with the pack holding signs with a desired race completion time on them (eg. 3h:15m, 3h:30m), embodying that given time and helping foster a rhythmic continuity for the overall machine — or perhaps a discontinuity, if understood in terms of an attractor effect. Time has been striated by the body moving within the statistical figure.

But this normal distribution curve is anything but normal. It is rather quite abnormal — not in the sense of deviant, but in terms of the carnivalesque. Costumes and clusters and chatterings identify the runners at the back of the pack, far back beyond even where the slowest pace rabbits will tread. The moving striation of time has become flimsy back here with the plodders, the affective tone of the topology much different than with the other end of outliers chasing down the finish line. An affective, generative tone still exists back here no doubt, and it is this tone that allows for the flimsy to not necessarily disintegrate, that helps as many of those at the back of the pack ultimately complete the asignifying pilgrimage of the race journey.

And in the middle of the pack, and at the front of the pack.

These are not points nor lines we are describing after all. They are certainly not surface-images, either, no matter how hard Spectacle attempts this reduction. They are volumes, actually. Running-bodies are resonating volumes of muscle and bone and nerve, blood and breath and sweat, psychic vibrations of fleshy affect amplified with the in-between energy of 45,000 other runners and the cheers of encouragement from spectators, who share in this radiance-by-exposure while reflecting a certain amount of energy back into the process.

Each of these runners knows a priori that the muscle and bone and nerve cannot sustain their mutual rhythm for the entire Pheidippidean journey. At some point the body wants to fail. And that seems to be the shared understanding of everyone in the race: once I hit that Wall, I just hope the energy of the crowd brings me home. The "energy of the crowd," again, as two-fold: energy from the shared suffering of the other runners constituting one's several-in-passing, and energy from the abstracted Babel of barricaded and cheering spectators.

It is this collected energy that keeps the running-body moving after it has decided it is no longer up to the task. Individual determination emerges from this collected energy to ignore a certain individually-experienced pain and complete the race.

keep moving.

In contrast with the #occupy movements around the world, who teach us contemporary lessons about taking and holding a space, the marathoners, with their smudged point of teeming mass yielding to a distended statistical curve of running-bodies, perhaps teach us contemporary lessons about taking and holding time.

The politics of chip time prove to be a sham. It is the affective politics of a temporary community running beyond one's presumed limits which reveals new understandings of that most Spinozan question: What can a body do? Points, lines and images play tricks with time: the teeming mass of energy dilates to diffuse an effective tremor lasting a couple of hours or until the very last person crosses the finish line. This elasticity of energy is not due so much to the speed at the front but rather the slowness at the back of the pack. There is an exit strategy to these affective politics, measured out at 26.2 miles, however long that takes.

Though almost everyone has some new understanding of what a body can do, not everyone makes it to the finish line. Lactic acid cramps or dizziness literally collapse the running body in a tragic heap of limbs as the final miles unfold. For some the exit strategy came too late, long after a collective affect could make the ultimate difference. Nothing was left in potential.

Desired exit or no, everyone hurts. The sore limbs are still in discord with the warm psychic vibrations of fleshy affect. A mild narcotic euphoria overcomes the body and most of the pain — the intensive stress-related pain, at least — disappears within hours. The rest lingers in the muscles and joints for the next few days, hinted at less and less frequently as other gestures replace the runner's gait. But it is this pain that consolidates the memory of the event, the living archive of the temporary commons woven from physical and psychic trauma.

Pain remembers pain, after all.
_____

[THX 1138 ~ LKL 5908 :: Chi26.2 = woot!]