Desperation Moves


In certain modern team sports there are a number of what we may describe as normative, yet legal, "desperation moves" that the team losing a contest may attempt as time begins to run out — provided the deficit is reasonably surmountable. In hockey, for example, the losing team will pull the goaltender in favour of an extra attacking skater; in basketball, a team will foul deliberately in order to force the other team to immediately shoot free throws; in gridiron football, there is the onside kickoff, etc.

Strategically, we might abstract these three examples as follows: in hockey, given the particular status (and equipment) that characterizes the goaltender, the attempt is to create an asymmetry in the number of attacking skaters and put pressure in the opposing zone. In basketball, constrained as it is by a required player symmetry, the attempt is to dilate the temporal parameters of the game, "extending" it by rapidly fouling and hopefully trading off multiple 1-point shots for 2- or 3-point shots at the other end. Gridiron football is also constrained by symmetry, on the one hand, but does not have regular and rapid turnover of possession either, and thus its attempt with the onside kick is to overload a space — or more precisely, to swarm a proximity.

In each case we witness a malleable, plastic quality — stretching, contracting, spasming — that over enough contests will have a statistically significant ability to turn the tide of victory in the timespaces of zero-sum athletic enclosure.

Accelerata: Sixteen Theses

The Acceleration Tour

1. Whether or not one understands time as unfolding in a linear fashion is immaterial; what matters is that experience and connectedness unfold along multiple and interweaving time signatures.

2. It is the time signature which produces affects, not time itself.

3. A collective energetics remains unevenly distributed. Nonetheless, its collectiveness always remains impressive, inspiring and humbling.

4. Dehabituated rhythms and changed or differential spatial parameters offer an invitation for novel gestural responses to the artwork.

5. When movement moves its way into the "aesthetic experience" proper, it continues to want to move, this time with the artwork, co-composing with it, contouring and creating with it.

6. It is not so much fatigue that one initially notices upon arrival at an artwork, but rather an interference of rhythms between runner and work, which thereafter gradually begin to harmonize or compromise. These resonances are of immediate interest in an aesthetico-ethical sense.

7. Habit can have unrefined pathways; one of these concerns its tempo.

8. Bodies are not "ideal", and thus neither should goals be. We understand these both in an affirmative sense.

9. The outwardly prosthetic body only makes evident and explicit the co-composition of all bodies.

10. A familiar gesture, machined differently, can be more more useful than a complex gesture known only to a few.

11. We are describing here an unhygienic experience (sweat, snot, traffic, noise, topography). Which is also in some ways to remind that we have been removed from the laboratory.

12. Speed only demands a greater adeptness with contingency and the aesthetics of failure.

13. There are both inner and outer accelerations that need to be considered in developing and evaluating the program.

14. If one seeks to create a nuclear or exponential energy field, one cannot initiate the reaction at maximum capacity. Rather, the intensity must be slowly increased to avoid the risk of rupture in a very real material sense.

15. The event itself is a collective enunciation — of gesture and energy. But so long as we remain bound to the particulars of language and its transmission, this collective enunciation must retain a spoken or written dimension as well. Breath must become metric rather than simply serving to inspire and expire.

16. Theses are exhausted and replenished much like mitochondrial reactors and muscular fibres. To elaborate: they, too, have relative catalytic points, elasticities and failure thresholds in the generation of things. And they, too, may also become fuel or worm food for future becomings . . .

sport and political technology


resurfacing, re: surfacing –> once again here's what the post-disciplinary enclosure looks like . . . all that is required now is for these technologies to get "better" and be merged with irregular image flows such as with public surveillance systems in London or Chicago . . .

sport and political technology –> panhaptic, simulated:

- multiple cameras 'speaking' to one another
- markerless motion capture
- extrusion of x,y,z coordinates to create 3D image
- timestamped events
- unique person IDs
- historical databases of typical body movements
- merging of 3D image with statistics
- expected vs. actual outcome analysis
- econometric querying



"It begins with the mass deportations. 25,000 runners packaged onto a fleet of school buses as neatly as you can say 'logistics'. They are being shipped to another town for processing — 26.2 miles away, to be exact — and yet the overwhelming sense in the air right now is one of optimism. An affirmative energy of nervous dialogue markedly contrasts the monologue of radical dividualization that steers the proceedings. Bright yellow sponsor bags, which hold those personal possessions one hopes will make the return journey, are clutched in every hand. An inversion has taken place: these overmen&women are the new figures of Agamben's camp logic, and yet they couldn't be happier. In some ways, they run for us all."

(Hunter Thompson Blanchot, I'm All In for the Disaster, p.22)

help side

help side
[help side defence,
or the tactile recalibration of peripheral vision,
or the hands of the clock at 13h50 -- just past high noon.]


left hand

"The faster we go, the more we look ahead in anticipation and lose our lateral vision."

(Paul Virilio, The Administration of Fear, p.36)


right hand

"Whiteness as blindness, as third type of blindness in which one sees with one's eyes open to the world, yet sees nothing. Not the absence of light and the consequent darkness that renders one incapable of seeing, nor the total intensification of light on the retinal receptors such that one is blinded by its sheer intensity and has a visceral reaction, which forces a closure of the eyes to get relief from the pain (as when looking at a sunny sky after being in a dark room). But a visible sightlessness that Antony Gormley helps us perceive, a third type of blindness in which one listens and touches, in which objects emerge from the white fog of chaos only at the penultimate moment of proximity."

(sportsbabel, june 2012)


a recursive game of prisoner's dilemma

The problem is not, as Bertrand Richard suggests in conversation with Paul Virilio, "that we still want even more speed and instantaneity." It is rather that we cannot afford to slow down, that we do not want to be left behind. The problem of speed thus becomes the inverse of the problem of exodus, except that we are describing an exodus from the hyperlinearity of time.

And as a question of praxis, we borrow from Paolo Virno to suggest a gradual move from a determined problem: keep pace or fall behind, to a totally different problem: how to realize the tempos available or at hand and to experience forms of self-expression that perhaps belie these temporal qualities and/or release differential energies.

zed's dead, baby.

blood blister

(the following is based on a true story)


"The gestural body is a moving body, and is thus always already a political one as well. The logic of skin tectonics suggests that such a moving body will never be fully captured by the tightness of its spectacular skin, for there will always be a slippage between integumentary layers. And it is this slippage that constitutes the contemporary zone of opportunity, of resistance, and of indifference."

(sportsbabel, february 2010)

- - -

"Not so much pregnancy as an affirmative autonomy, then, but a soapy, bloody bubble given breath-between-two, before being blown back inward upon itself and coming out whole — propelled right back down into the throat of the blower, suffocating speech-potential ever so perceptibly as the newly-dawning subject is in-formed."

(sportsbabel, june 2012)


dyed red, burned bubbbling

It is damp, and a long march is about to begin. It has been thought about, planned and strategized for quite some time, the body has been prepared, and an imagined or dreamed conviction has set in resolutely — this can be accomplished.

Are we describing here the marathon runner who has trained and tapered and sweated all season, resolutely, or the political subject in emergence who seems to be stretching limbs and tensors one final time before the report of the starter's pistol shatters the intense edginess that hangs over the assembled hordes?

A skin tectonics is a slippage of sorts. Many sorts, many skins. Many potential frictions, shears, tears, bubbles and ruptures. The marathon runner teaches us that once the race begins not all variables can be controlled: sometimes the tectonic shifts have a logic of their own that may in-form identity on the fly. Bloody bubbles may form that challenge any prior idea of a quantified outcome to the process.

But the marathon runner may also teach us that these goals are not end-points but rather imagined inflections within process. Pain affectively calculates pain, just as pain remembers pain. We are newly informed through our in-formation, imprecisely. As such, this can be accomplished may take on a new meaning, maybe a very dramatic and affirmative new meaning that cannot be measured against the clock of the foot of the eye. Nor are intensities ever perceived in this way to begin with.

Bloody, potentially, the pain is embraced and the journey is completed — buoyed by the energetics of countless others. Somehow outside of historical time. This is the real story that will be told around campfires for years to come. And it's a true story.

In turn, perhaps the emerging political subject teaches us that these painful bubbles can be considered more deliberately — as possibilities to condition the spatiotemporal and numerical regimes of the contemporary moment. Perhaps this is the story that will be told someday.

But the questions remain: Whose goal are we considering? Whose body, distributed yet locatable? Whose pain?