From The NFL Combine

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Notes From Gattaca


[Aside] I rewatched Gattaca last night and wanted to post a few notes:

  • according to society, identity is less bound by personality, etc., than by one's genetic profile and the probabilities contained therein, which are established by a blood test at birth
  • the knowable body: Jude Law's character prepares the data samples that allow Ethan Hawke's character to assume the "Jerome Morrow" identity — urine, blood, hair samples, fingernail clippings, skin cells — while Hawke must scrub himself to the point where his own body literally disappears and he becomes a "de-gene-erate"
  • quote: "And that's the way it was. Each day I would dispose of as much loose skin, fingernails and hair as possible to limit how much of my 'in-valid' self I would leave in the valid world."
  • I missed this the first time around, but the title Gattaca is actually composed of letters that form a nucleotide chain: Guanine-Adenine-Thymine-Thymine-Adenine-Cytosine-Adenine

    (I came up with that one myself, but then found that it and other pieces of Gattaca trivia could be found at IMDB.)

    Courtesy of National Museum of American History

  • while late-19thC/early-20thC art such as Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times or the Animal Locomotion photography studies by Eadweard Muybridge (see "Lawn tennis" above) visions the human body and its cyborgian interaction with machines as strictly biomechanical, Gattaca — and pop culture forms such as sports videogames — vision the body in terms of code/information, a shift examined by Bruce Grenville's exhibition of cyborg culture, The Uncanny
  • resample:

    The reality of the cyborg body in the popular imagination is that it emerges during the post-industrial shift from a metallurgic society to a semiurgic society. In other words, the cyborg lives in a society of information, of pattern, of code. Thus, the "machine" half of the cyborg is also likely to be one of code: recombinant DNA sequences, organic chemistry chains, electrical positives and negatives, digital zeroes and ones, disciplinary technologies, and collective consciousness will all be leveraged in the realization of a cyborg body. This is not to suggest that the metallurgic will cease to be part of such a body, but rather that it will assume a subservient or relegated role.

  • the movie was written and directed by Andrew Niccol, who also wrote The Truman Show.
  • unlike The Truman Show, which was entirely about the theme of surveillance, I cannot recall one instance of a surveillance camera in Gattaca


A Metaphor Borrowed From The Sweet Science

"The destruction wrought on the Pentagon was of little consequence; what exploded in people's minds was the World Trade Center, leaving America out for the count." — Paul Virilio, Ground Zero, p.82

Tetrad Analysis: Satellite

Another tetrad from Marshall and Eric McLuhan's Laws of Media: The New Science (p.150):


-the planet

-earth goes inside itself

-the first extension-of-earth


-the orb urbs; the globe as theatre

-the crowd dynamic
-participating in their own audience participation
-population reverses from content/spectator to actor/participant

-'Primitive man is, inevitably, ecological.'
-In The Savage Mind, C. Lévi Strauss noted that the primitive regards everything as related to everything — a condition we recognize as paranoia

-nature: an invention of the Greeks
-Lewis Mumford (Technics and Civilization, page 69) called the mine 'the first completely organic environment created by man.'
-Like the space capsule, the submarine is also a completely programmed environment. And the scientific laboratory, whether for Pavlovian conditioning, or routine controlled-condition experiences.

Earth extends itself only to go inside itself — or to become its own content. Fascinating.

The satellite has made several appearances on sportsBabel, most notably in discussing the historical relationship between the blimp and the geosynchronous satellite; in pointing out that pirated American satellite feeds of the Super Bowl allow Canadian viewers to see the Madison Avenue advertisements; and in highlighting the recently available Google Maps service and its satellite view.

(With regards to this latter, Keyhole, a Google subsidiary that provides 3D digital satellite imaging solutions, offers three sample videos of their service: a tour of the Athens 2004 Olympic venues (wmv,13Mb); a tour of Boston's Fenway Park (wmv,6.5Mb); and coverage of the war in Fallujah (wmv,3.2Mb) — not the first time we have discussed the link between satellite sport and war on sportsBabel.)

Like the McLuhans, Paul Virilio also describes an obsolescing of the natural environment that occurs with satellite and other telecommunications technologies — creating a new environment that resembles an electronic ecology, no doubt. As I have suggested before, this new ecology renders permeable the membrane between participant and spectator, allowing for the erstwhile spectator's "participating in their own audience participation."

One-Sided Volleyball

Wired News reports that video game maker Tecmo has settled a lawsuit out of court against the proprietors of a game-hacking web site called The issue at hand involved custom content created by users for games that had been legitimately paid for, in which reverse-engineering allowed for on-screen customization — in this case, rendering the female characters of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball completely nude.

Courtesy of TecmoCourtesy of TecmoCourtesy of Tecmo

As one can see from a quick sampling of the game's original screenshots (ie. pre-nudification), a moral outcry over pornography and the objectification of women does not form the basis of Tecmo's legal challenge. In fact, at popular gaming magazine site I was only able to find about a half-dozen images out of 293 in which the women were actually playing volleyball.

Rather, the issue has to do with control over the expression of the intellectual property, as well as silencing any attempts to modify that expression. This silencing extends to the legal settlement, in which the defendants cannot even express themselves with reference to the lawsuit. It is important not to be blinded by the produced sexuality of this event; it is the desire to communicate — an impulse even more fundamental than sex — that is at issue here, and the silence is becoming deafening.

German E-Fission . . . See?

RFID Operations reports that the 12 German stadia hosting games for the 2006 World Cup will embed RFID chips in tickets.

According to the report, Royal Philips Electronics won a contract to provide many of the chips for the 3.2 million tickets that will be needed at those stadiums. For the World Cup games, the RFID tags will be embedded "inside regular paper tickets that can be imprinted with sponsor logos and kept by fans as souvenirs."

Benefits of the system highlighted in the article, many of which I described in the context of bar code-enabled game tickets, include:

  • control of access to games
  • security
  • ease of use
  • difficult to counterfeit
  • prevents people from passing tickets to others once inside the stadium
  • speed up the entrance of fans
  • assists logistical adjustments
  • contactless and durable

While FIFA claims that the chips will store access information only, and that no personal information will be included, the same cannot be said for regular Bundesliga play after the World Cup is over. The difference is that the former is a short-term event, while the latter is a long-term league with season ticket holders. The expense incurred in modernizing the German stadia for 2006 is simply the cost required to subsequently have that personalized season ticket holder information.

The Cologne system investment was a six-figure investment and is designed to supply payment functions that will eventually boost revenues in fan shops and at concession stands, Däuper says. The electronic payment function is planned for the next season.

"Some people say sales could rise 10%, others say they could rise 40% to 50%," Däuper said, because fans tend to spend more when they don't have to pay with cash for their drinks and souvenirs (emphasis added).

Contactless chips. Frictionless economics. Pantactile data-gathering. Hmmmm . . .