The Remains of Argus


department of biological flow
kino-gait study no.2

"The organs of the senses form knots, high-relief sites of singularity in this complex flat drawing, dense specializations, a mountain, valley or well on the plain. They irrigate the whole skin with desire, listening, sight or smell. Skin flows like water, a variable confluence of the qualities of the senses. Interior and exterior, opaque and transparent, supple or rigid, wilful, present or paralyzed, object, subject, soul and world, watcher and guide, a place where the fundamental dialogue with things and others happens and where it is most brilliantly visible, the skin bears Hermes' message and what remains of Argus."

– Michel Serres, The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies, p.52

@Propeller: Here and There (and the threads in between)

Here and There, Courtesy of Propeller Gallery

Curated Exhibition organized by Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts in collaboration with One Hour Empire

Canada is commonly perceived as a nation of immigrants: people displaced and uprooted by events that are out of their control. They exist and work here while their hearts and minds are still there. This double life is not just an immigrant experience. You may live here in your parents' home but have a fantasy life there in the World of Warcraft. You may spend your daily grind here in the city while you live in the outskirts of town. You may suffer from illness here but imagine being healthy there. You may face yourself here in a mirror and under a microscope there.

The premise of the show is the juxtaposition of your two places in the broadest sense of place. Artists often use different forms when dealing with here and there while sometimes the differences are only in the content. We expect to see two separate works for HERE and THERE but we will also consider a single artwork if you feel it better presents your double life.

* * *

The Department of Biological Flow will be showing work from Kino-Gait Study No.3 and Process Transduction, as well as performing the installation Living Room in the Year 2046. Come on down and join us Thursday night, or check out the show before the 13th! :D

Compass (with apologies to Bruce Nauman)

Compass (with apologies to Bruce Nauman)

Idea for a Conceptual Art Project, No.22:

1. Stage lights are hung from the ceiling in a grid-like formation.

2. The array of lights is programmed to illuminate the artist primarily from the back side, such that a shadow is thrown forward in front of the body.

3. The artist walks in the direction of the shadow.

4. Using certain chance elements in the lighting program the intensity of the luminescent field slowly modulates. The shadow begins to "come around" the side of the artist's body, such that the magnitude and direction of the thrown shadow vector is continually in flux. A topological architecture of light is created.

5. The artist also modulates course and continues to walk toward the direction of the shadow, not allowing its magnitude to become overly shortened (or captured).

6. The artist's head is bowed, looking straight ahead toward the shadow at all times. A camera affixed to a pair of glasses captures what the artist sees while tracking the moving shadow. The video from this camera is played live on a projection screen and also serves as documentation of the performance.

Toward a Kinoderm Aesthetics

Mapping emergent territories

When designing a videogame character using 3-D modeling and animation tools, one begins the process with two separate, though interrelated, requirements: a wireframe "skeleton" of the character's body and a two-dimensional texture map of the character's facial appearance. That is, the skin of the character, while imagined as a volumetric construct, is always already understood in its design as a flat surface, laid bare, before its eventual (re)constitution as an animate form.

Face Texture Map

Hence, we may literally describe a cartography of the dermis whose features may be higher or lower in resolution, perhaps more crisp in detail or slightly blurred depending on the distortions in the fold to the volumetric.

The great ephemeral skin

"Open the so-called body and spread out all its surfaces: not only the skin with each of its folds, wrinkles, scars, with its great velvety planes, and contiguous to that, the scalp and its mane of hair, the tender pubic fur, nipples, nails, hard transparent skin under the heel, the light frills of the eyelid, set with lashes — but open and spread, expose the labia majora, so also the labia minora with their blue network bathed in mucus, dilate the diaphragm of the anal sphincter, longitudinally cut and flatten out the black conduit of the rectum, then the colon, then the caecum, now a ribbon with its surface all striated and polluted with shit; as though your dress-maker's scissors were opening the leg of an old pair of trousers, go on, expose the small intestine's alleged interior, the jejunum, the ileum, the duodenum …"

Courtesy of Stelarc

stretched skin
4m X 3m image / 3 photo panels

"… or else, at the other end, undo the mouth at its corners, pull out the tongue at its most distant roots and split it, spread out the bats' wings of the palate and its damp basements, open the trachea and make it the skeleton of a boat under construction; armed with scalpels and tweezers, dismantle and lay out the bundles and bodies of the encephalon; and then the whole network of veins and arteries, intact, on an immense mattress, and then the lymphatic network, and the fine bony pieces of the wrist, the ankle, take them apart and put them end to end with all the layers of nerve tissue which surround the aqueous humours and the cavernous body of the penis, and extract the great muscles, the great dorsal nets, spread them out like smooth sleeping dolphins" (Lyotard, Libidinal Economy, p.1).


One moves through public space. Perhaps it is an overexposed space, or a space of pronounced acceleration in flux. Perhaps one's head is bowed slightly — in an effort to avoid visually dominating the other(s), or in a desire to frustrate authentication protocols, or in a simple attempt toward modesty. But if we are to locate ourselves in regimes of positionality that stand outside of or distinct from duration, we still need to "see" in some way.

It is a touch-based affective co-emergence that allows us to "see" in the process of moving through public space proper, with all of the politics that implies. And kino-gait offers a potentiality by which one may prosthetically explore a filtered memory of that same movement, with the subject located in the negative space of the embodied camera's multiple gaze.

Toward a kinoderm aesthetics

On the surface, it appears that one ought to view the images produced during the kino-gait process by projecting them onto some three-dimensional screen, perhaps shaped like the body of the individual who originally wore the camera apparatus: an anthropometrically correct screen. After all, we are describing a volumetric body moving relationally with other bodies in the corridors and conduits of biological flow. Do we not need to respect this phenomenon of the body, its tangible fact as thing?

No. Once the body has been imaged — even in negative space — and abstracted from relation, the distinctions between three-dimensional and two-dimensional outputs as technologies of expression become less significant (although not entirely trivial): a media-specific analysis suggests that either may prove more beneficial than the other in any particular context. It is rather how these outputs as aesthetic forms are inscribed in networks of power — as, for example, what Benjamin describes with "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" — that is of greater importance. How does power compromise the image produced in the abstraction of relation? How is relation compromised in turn?

Some omniocular visioning systems, such as motion capture, rely on a nearly perfect convergence of all camera lenses. In others, such as with ProZone, there simply needs to be a measure of overlap in order for the cameras to effectively monitor and communicate the position of a tracking-object. The point is that in any system at least two cameras ought to see the same marker at any one moment in time.

Given the complex contours that identify each of our body-volumes, not to mention the unique signatures in gait each of us performs, any kinoderm array of cameras will for the most part be characterized by divergence. We are curvy bodies, after all. And this is what curves do when the gaze is directed the other way: they diverge.

But the point remains: in any omniocular visioning system at least two cameras ought to see the same marker at any one moment in time. Even given the divergent qualities of any kinoderm array, this need not imply a large number of cameras. In Kino-Gait Study No.3 (above), there was a significant degree of overlap-through-divergence with only five cameras on the arrayed body.

Left: \'Aperture,\' courtesy of Antony Gormley

left: antony gormley

Can we reverse engineer and transduce techniques of videogame modeling and animation to lift the kino-gait skin from the inscription of emergence and lay it flat on the surface? Can we invent new techniques? Can we literally describe a dynamic cartography of the kinodermis — whose features may be higher or lower in resolution, perhaps more crisp in detail or slightly blurred depending on the distortions in the fold from the volumetric?

Can we stitch the various cameras together, in other words, to provide a coherent two-dimensional text for the reader — a cinematic version of the Stelarcian skin discarded above?

Such techniques will require advanced dialogues with gait analysis, motion capture biomechanics, mathematics, digital signal processing, sculpting, choreography, music and others in order to create a similarly functional two-dimensional map of the space that is being surveyed. But it will also require holes, glitches, backdoors, easter eggs, etc. — what we might refer to as pores in the skin. In short, deludology as an active strategy of design so that the mobile political subject always retains opportunities for movement.

The deludic eruptions of holey space are but one element of a skin tectonics that offer the transludic subject-in-relation a micropolitics of maneuver.

Charlotte Sometimes (Mudstep Jam)

lousy t-shirt provided by semiotextil(e)

1. We accelerate into the threshold to decelerate out the other side.

2. When one views a small farm while driving by in the hermetic confines of an automobile, the plot of land doesn't look so big. But get out of the car to walk in the field and the space begins to dilate. The rolling image has become an expanding volume. Now work that same field.

3. It is a question of tempo: smooth and striated spaces are not simply matters of intensities versus geometries, but concern speeds as well.

4. The problem with the theory of relativity is that for the layperson it is usually only applied in understanding cosmic or interstellar phenomena (ie. at the speed of light spacetime is compressed relative to our planetary frame of reference). But relativity has potential for us in the lived everyday as well: a change in velocities introduces distinct changes in the embodiment and perception of spacetime — by which we mean its active creation.

5. The threshold of holey space significantly modulates the vibrating fibres of matrixial intersubjectivity, partly through change in proximity, partly through change in velocity, partly through embodied archive and memory. Always through relation.

Several: "We are each constituted by more than one of these relational moebius strips, each of us several in our singularity. These relational fibres grow at rates different for each unique relation, to different thicknesses or densities of weave. Each one may be shorter or longer in total surface and decay at a different rate, despite being woven of essentially the same stuff. This is because the 'stuff' of which they are woven is both organic and technic, born of flesh, gesture and linguistic interface. And as these relations move to fibre optic communication networks there emerges a doubling or higher degree of complexity to the assemblage, with the moebius relations themselves becoming subject to a new moebius topology bounded by the here of local presence and the now of (nearly) instantaneous electronic transmission. These fibres, too, become subject to the rationality of industrial agriculture, this time in the form of social networking." (March 2010)

6. This phenomenon is most pronounced at the node, that location in the meshwork which stabilizes the web of relations but also most keenly and affectively senses the largest number of relational forces in tension or pull. For the node, passage through holey space constitutes the most dramatic shift in intensity experienced by any of the several.


7. Through gusts of wind that vigorously sway it back and forth the spiderweb holds on and persists, however, due in no small part to the strength of its nodes. Charlotte.

8. Unless it breaks. Sometimes.

9. The passage through holey space demands protocol (discrete particles) as well as performativity (resonant waves) to successfully negotiate the relational shift.

Tango: "Each of us forms a node in a broader network of these moebius relations. The web weaves through spaces and places both material and informational, mappings and tracings alike left in the wake of its continual emergence. But we must remember that this web emerges first and foremost from the moving body. The larger one's node in the network becomes, the greater potential for this moving body to form knots in these relations, knots somatically registered with a particular sense of anxiety. The moving body finds itself bound in a relational tango, to borrow the abstract diagram of intersubjective micropolitics suggested by Erin Manning. Or, already being several, it finds itself in a series of moebius part-dances with other individuals that attempt not to cross footsteps: as one body releases from the other in tango, given the space from which it may choose to return (anxiety), a differential space is opened in which other part-dances and their relational fibres may intersect or form knots and entanglements. The body thus finds itself in dances of relation, yes, but also in separate dances of disentanglement — the unweaving of knotty potentials and their somatic consequences." (March 2010)

Foucauldian Tomato Plants

10. Though the farm is relatively smooth in comparison to the city, this is not to suggest an absence of disciplinary techniques. The space is highly rationalized: enclosure, partition, rank. Sometimes the plants are given prosthetic braces, sometimes they are kept in cages. There are no surveillance cameras monitoring this movement, however, either in the greenhouses or out in the fields. Yet.

11. Repetition yields to rapid innovation in technique, though not necessarily a program.

12. The weather reports of Science take a distant back seat to what actually unfolds and what is in the process of unfolding. The latter is far more engaged in the "nomad" sciences (colours in the sky, intensities of wind registered against the skin), while the former is experienced as an attunement to the lived everyday.

13. High-speed telecommunications may modulate the farmer, though not necessarily the farmed.

14. Farmers knew about gait surfing long ago, at least in a "primordial" sense. Watch them walk the rows: contouring, flowing, sensing. They referred to it simply as "being in the world".

15. It would be easy to suggest that the farmer is simply walking up and down rows of stasis. But plants move: they grow up and out as sensing volumes in their own right, they deepen and expand their root systems, they sway to and fro in the gentle breezes of summer. At this recalibrated tempo, gait surfing's ontogenetic processes of walking-in-relation have been slowed down, exaggerated, and rendered more readily visible to one interested in biological flow. Dial down the BPM for this mudstep jam.

16. Note that biological flow is not the sole preserve of humans.

17. Do not confuse this with cheap nostalgia. Slowing down the gestural microscope reveals a care for the relation that exists between farmer and plant (and plant and plant…). This care is the envy of the gait surfer, who seeks to develop, sustain, or otherwise transduce it as the biological fluxes increase their speed upon return to the city.

All the faces
All the voices blur
Change to one face
Change to one voice
Prepare yourself for bed
The light seems bright
And glares on white walls
All the sounds of
Charlotte sometimes
Into the night with
Charlotte sometimes

Night after night she lay alone in bed
Her eyes so open to the dark
The streets all looked so strange
They seemed so far away
But Charlotte did not cry

The people seemed so close
Playing expressionless games
The people seemed
So close
So many
Other names…

Sometimes I'm dreaming
Where all the other people dance
Sometimes I'm dreaming
Charlotte sometimes
Sometimes I'm dreaming
Expressionless the trance
Sometimes I'm dreaming
So many different names
Sometimes I'm dreaming
The sounds all stay the same
Sometimes I'm dreaming
She hopes to open shadowed eyes
On a different world
Come to me
Scared princess
Charlotte sometimes

On that bleak track
(See the sun is gone again)
The tears were pouring down her face
She was crying and crying for a girl
Who died so many years before…

Sometimes I dream
Where all the other people dance
Sometimes I dream
Charlotte sometimes
Sometimes I dream
The sounds all stay the same
Sometimes I'm dreaming
There are so many different names
Sometimes I dream
Sometimes I dream…

Charlotte sometimes crying for herself
Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself
But it's always with love
With so much love it looks like
Everything else
Of Charlotte sometimes
So far away
Glass sealed and pretty
Charlotte sometimes

(The Cure, "Charlotte Sometimes")


(intensity, proximity, technicality: thank you.)

Process Transduction

Process Transduction - Department of Biological Flow at Nuit Blanche

Walking is In(di)visible

Department of Biological Flow
at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

October 2, 2010