13-Minute Rupture and Loop

A Nonsense Lab Artist Con-fessional, Part Six

"There are no nomadic or sedentary smiths. Smiths are ambulant, itinerant. Particularly important in this respect is the way in which smiths live: their space is neither the striated space of the sedentary nor the smooth space of the nomad. … Smiths are not nomadic among the nomads and sedentary among the sedentaries, nor half-nomadic among the nomads, half-sedentary among sedentaries. Their relation to others results from their internal itinerancy, from their vague essence, and not the reverse. It is in their specificity, it is by virtue of their inventing a holey space, that they necessarily communicate with the sedentaries and with the nomads (and with others besides, with the transhumant forest dwellers)."

          — Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 413


Con-fessional: Noise Layer


Script: January 12, 2046



6. 13-Minute Rupture and Loop

Con-fessional: 13-Minute Rupture and Loop

[1] Shed noise layer. [2] Message Colonel Fornssler re: mission success. [3] Plug in kettle for boiling water. [4] Towel off sweat. [5] Shave beard. [6] Don wig. [7] Dye moustache to match wig. [8] Put on different clothes and shoes. [9] A clue: "noise" hat worn on top of wig. [10] New watch and prescription eyeglasses. [11] Modify gait. [12] Document metamorphosis. [13] Loop back to gallery generator.

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do we have holey space yet, smith asks?

A Goal?


David Graeber, 'The New Anarchists,' New Left Review, 13, p.64:

"More and more, activists have been trying to draw attention to the fact that the neoliberal vision of 'globalization' is pretty much limited to the movement of capital and commodities, and actually increases barriers against the free flow of people, information and ideas."

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Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, p.72:

"So what is the condition? Quite simply, a field. No field, no play, and the rules lose their power. The field is what is common to the proto-game and the formalized game, as well as to informal versions of the game coexisting with the official game and any subsequent evolution of it. The field-condition that is common to every variation is unformalized but not unorganized. It is minimally organized as a polarization. The field is polarized by two attractors: the goals. All movement in the game will take place between the poles and will tend toward one or the other. They are physical limits. The play stops when the ball misses or hits the goal. The goals do not exist for the play except tendentially, as inducers of directional movement of which they mark the outside limits (winning or losing). The goals polarize the space between them. The field of play is an in-between of charged movement. It is more fundamentally a field of potential than a substantial thing, or object. As things, the goals are signs for the polar attraction that is the motor of the game. They function to induce the play. The literal field, the ground with grass stretching between the goals, is also an inductive limit-sign rather than a ground in any foundational sense. The play in itself is groundless and limitless, taking place above the ground-limit and between the goal-limits."

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As we have noted here on several occasions, modern sport both contributes to and creates new forms for the project of enclosure, which complements those hierarchical bulwarks of state and corporation — as popular discourse, athletic labour force and spectacular commodity. Think shifts in the geography of the arena proper, jersey numbers on uniforms, radio frequency chip tagging, anti-doping protocols, omniocular camera tracking systems, and many others.

Even with a game as simple as football/soccer/fútbol, Massumi points out, this begins with the goal. The goal catalyzes a field of play, yes, potentializes those bodies that move about within its space, yes, but is also a point of finitude: there is no after the goal. Rather, we are confronted with disappearance into a void, spatiotemporal coordinates becoming mathematical integer, one metric exchanged for another, goal becoming goooooooaaaaaaaaaaal.

What if the goal was not simply a foreclosure of athletic poiesis, a terminal point of the enclosure whence one escapes only to be thrust back inside? What if the goal was an opening onto something, somewhere, sometime, a portal to thinking and becoming, a worlding?

What lies beyond finitude?

LKL 5908


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!]

we're all in.

(abstract submitted to the 2011 north american society for sport sociology conference in minneapolis)

Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas


Biogramming Base Bodies: We're All In

In early 2011, athletic footwear, apparel and lifestyle conglomerate adidas launched its worldwide marketing campaign "adidas is all in". Presented as a cosmopolitan moment in global sport and physical culture — at least insofar as its endorsers and target markets are concerned — the campaign's television creative consisted of 15, 30 and 60-second edits of a centrepiece 120-second ad, played at the launch of the campaign and available on Youtube thereafter. Within five months of the "adidas is all in" launch, the full-length version had been viewed over 2 million times. Engaging Brian Massumi and Erin Manning's concept of the biogram and weaving threads of Félix Guattari's schizoanalytic ecology, this paper argues that the "adidas is all in" television creative leverages techniques of in/visibility that have changed the affective stakes for the fetishization of athletic celebrity and its related sports consumables.


Courtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidasCourtesy of adidas

Proposition for an Exploded Foosball Table

Exploded Foosball - Photos Courtesy of Laura Cull and Pia Ednie-Brown

proposition for an exploded foosball table
department of biological flow
+ generating the impossible

july 2011

Process is transduced back from the open expanses of rural thought to the gridly confines of the city. The artists create a small football pitch within the space least populated by trees (though there were still several). Each player is connected to another by woven wicker fingercuffs. The ball is a gift to the community, processed, remixed and retransmitted. As if rupturing the heavy striations of the foosball table, the artists begin a game of fingercuff soccer.

It is probably best that the game is postponed from the rural camp space of openness to the more highly-coded space of the city, because both (modern) sport and the city exist primarily as expressions of rule sets which code the flow of bodies in motion. Neither team wears uniforms.


One of the interesting characteristics of this particular community of people is that each of its members to some degree challenge all rules. Every constraint given exists for them as a condition of possibility — if only it could be turned just so, or perhaps that way instead. For the most part, this is a community of experimentation always operating with/in linguistic rule systems insofar as they offer affordances of potential.

And yet in this quasi-sporting context (what Massumi would refer to as a proto-sport) we found it interesting that the impetus to challenge and invert was subdued in favour of more rigorously following cognate rule sets of familiarity — "am I allowed to do this?" A geography of Foucauldian docility (partially) slipped on like a soccer jersey. As the game began and the bodies started moving, however, this preoccupation with rules relaxed in favour of the more usual topology of experimentation.

Exploded Foosball - Photos Courtesy of Laura Cull and Pia Ednie-Brown


The basic gesture of soccer is simple, both conceptually and in practice: kick the ball, usually toward the other goal. All other skills in the sport derive from this basic gesture (which you could then spend a lifetime learning to do well). Even so, kicking the ball is certainly not as simple as making contact with one's foot in the forward direction: the entire trunk of the body, arms and head coordinate to execute the kick, often at a vector just slightly offset from perpendicular. The body comes around the ball, so to speak, in order to kick it forward with more control.

Given the play of replicated or hybrid foosball bodies in the game, however, gesture simultaneously became a multiplicity as well as more constrained in a perpendicular sense. Put simply, with the fingercuffs on it was very difficult to kick in any way but straight forward with one's toe. Force channeled forward at all times, even if it was a bastardized "forward". Kicking with many legs is a skill that could certainly be improved by the stylish foosball player, but with experiments following so soon after being exploded it was the awkwardness of gesture (the stutter?) that proved most interesting.

Swarms followed the ball wherever it went on the pitch. The goal seemed important for everyone, some more than others. This community of artists, so soft in the rural setting of thought, collectively competed with aggression and abandon. There were aches and pains and even a minor injury.

(You know it was a Deleuzian soccer game when the only "minor" injury involved someone getting kicked in the "face" with a "part-subject" … har har …)

Exploded Foosball - Photos Courtesy of Laura Cull and Pia Ednie-Brown

Emergent conditions

As mentioned earlier, once the initial preoccupation with following the rules ceded to a more general competitive play and transduction of the field of potential, there were several interesting conditions of possibility which emerged. Some involved a collective notification of a new rule, while others a more subtle (or subterfuged?) renegotiation — each a particular outcome of style.

Examples of the former include scoring systems in which teams lost a point for scoring a goal or if a child was hurt during the course of play; the removal of shoes to make the game softer; and the requirement that goals scored must be below waist height. Examples of the latter include players who completely broke free from the fingercuff and played "solo" during the game; the modular interlocking of fingercuffs into clusters or three or four players; and pairings that played for both teams at the same time (switch?). There was even a performance of diving.

Finally, there was the programmed condition. The actual soccer ball was removed from the game, to be replaced by an imagined ball. The gestures of the players would dictate the position of the ball (always smudged) on the field of play. And the aggression of performance makes its final appearance as one team scores two goals in a matter of seconds to end the game in a tie.

Who had the more convincing actors?