FQFFEF London 2016: Shifting the Goalposts Three-Sided Football Match, March 19th, Greenwich Observatory, London
- Written by DAMTP
Like the First Quantum Flux Footballum Equinox Fest (FQFFEF) of which it was part, the Shifting the Goalposts match was held between a conjunction of the DAta Miners & Travailleurs Psychique union (DAMTP), DIVUS and the Luther Blissett Deptford League (LBDL) - in discussion with Strategic Optimism Football (SOF), the New Cross Triangle Psychogeographical Association (NXTPA) and the DEad WOrkers Union (DEWOU-DAMTP).
Taking place close to the Greenwich observatory, spanning the meridian line, it deliberately intervened into the metric/imperial control of time, space and class. Goals were mounted on bicycles, continuously changing in both location, and later, direction. In the beginning the rotating bicycles circumnavigated the pitch in an inversion of the famous psychogeographical plaque tournante - like pairs of entangled quanta, whizzing around a particle accelarator. Later these pedal-powered atomic machines started to change direction, splitting from their orbit to move chaotically – in all directions at once - traversing differing spaces and further dimensions. The increased velocities also produced an onset of a so-called “Lorentz Contraction”, thus simulanteously undermining the metaphysical basis of imperial measure/rule. The players were continuously checking themselves not to drift too far from the dynamic pitch as the game rotated across the meridian - symbolically uniting East with West in a spiral motion: the onset of Jorn's complexity vandalism.
Besides this circuitous union of East and West, a conjunction of pro(anti)-situ and (re)fluxus elements occured that had not happened since the Destruction in Arts Symposium, held in London on September 11th (9-11), 1966 [vulg.] – one more great 50-year-time/space/class-loop. This Shifting the Goalposts event thus conjoined a situationist 3SF quantum chromo-dynamics (Jorn’s invention, 1962, vulg.) with a flux-vehicle commune-mechanical tension (Maciunas’ invention, 1973, vulg.). The purpose of reactivating such a conjunction becomes graspable with a little contextual information:
In the NXTPA’s comparative analysis conducted for the AntiUniversity (Jorn and Trocchi ‘United’: An UnWorkshop in Practical Triolectics), they contrast mid-20th century American mathematician Stephen Smale‘s investigations into topology (damaged by the colision of metaphysics) on one hand, with the Situlogy of his contemporary, the Danish situationist Asger Jorn, on the other.
In the 1960s [vulg.], whilst active in organising international anti-Vietnam War actions, but also opposing the Soviet invasion of Hungary, blockading troop trains and being hauled before the House Committee of Un-American Activities, Smale began working with “oscillators”. Oscillators – pendulums, springs, strings and circuits – were usually considered an elementary field of classical Newtonian mechanics. However, Smale’s work was on so-called “non-linear oscillators”, a relatively unexplored terrain. Where previously it was assumed only significant alterations in parameters or initial conditions could produce significant differences in a system – for example between static stability and periodic oscillation, Smale proposed that seemingly insignificant interventions might produce significant effects. Smale’s grafting of topological insight into dynamic systems might be called “tektological” in the terminology of early Bolshevik systems theorist A.A. Bogdanov, in that in seeking “global” solutions, it transposes the method of one discipline into another. In this tektological melding of topology and dynamic systems, Smale clearly echoes the recent advances made by his contemporary, Asger Jorn, in what, as we have seen above, he called Situlogy.
As Jorn had also demonstrateed a few years earlier, dynamic structures – what he labelled “situations” – might be imagined as shapes, or forms – from a simple curved surface to a complex, multi-dimensional manifold. Both Jorn and Smale thus reached the same conclusion, namely that a traditional Euclidean point could only represent a system’s frozen instant abstracted from time (and, as Jorn tentatively understood, class). Both, however, grasped that forms were in fact emergent: dynamic situations across which points must oscillate and orbit. Smale realised that chaos and instability were not the same thing, that chaos could, paradoxically, be highly stable, however it fell to Jorn to introduce the third trimension to the equation – namely, class. Without this introduction of the trimensional, chaotic systems merely reproduce highly ordered scenarios, and indeed, were harnessed by the rulling (measuring) class in the later decades of the 20th century [vulg.] for precisely such a purpose!
This onset of order is exactly what happened with fluxus movement structures during the late ‘60s and later. It is paradoxically illustrated by a clearly hexagonal pitch, resembling a crystaline multitude of grouped bicycles, in a drawing by Maciunas. Thus, whilst the seemingly “rationalist” structure of the fixed “fluxvehicle” or 3SF pitch causes chaotic situations, the fixation on stabilized shapes, conversely, causes stagnation. This is precisely what has been observed both in the increasingly dogmatic organisation of 3SF in recent years (the clearest example being First [1th] World Cup of Three-Sided Football in Silkeborg, 2014, vulg.) and in the spectacle of former fluxus artists hopelessly stuck in artistic rituals. So far, not one of the living fluxus artists responded to the FQFFEF. Therefore instead of praying to their dead structure, or any idolized name, we decided to ask for advice from the dead fluxus workers (aka flux-cyclists).
As stated, this emergence of order from seeming chaos was the dangerous insight that the ruling class of the late 20th century took from Smale‘s work, work that would form the basis for Chaos Theory: islands of highly controlled order can be manfactured from the seeming disorder of a chaotic, dynamic system. Indeed, this has become the dominant paradigm of ruling class psychogeography in the age of militarised borders, uneven development and gated communities at the turn of the so-called millennium. This shift also marked the end of what Isou had called “the Age of Divinity” – the universe of classical mechanics and homogeneous space – a development well noted by the LPA (Why Psychogeography? Electric Schizoo #1, May 1996).
Its important to stress that the most mobile players during the Shifting the Goalposts match were the goalkeepers (or reproductive workers), who were precisely the ones to draw the lines corresponding the chaos theory. By transcending topology and understanding non-linear oscillations of the phenomenon’s “phase space” formally - as Jorn had also done with his work on ornament (see Asger Jorn, What is an Ornament? 1948) - the goalkeepers were able to perceive the emergence of what he called the “arabesque”. This strange graph form is perhaps akin to Epicurus’ Clinamen, or indeed, in an entropic (or deconstructive) system at least, the spiral-form navel of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. For a pendulum, for example, its phase space describes a loop; a dampening pendulum describes the spiral-form phase space which is essential to psychogeography (i.e. reproductive work or labour). It is well-known to bourgeois science that the phase space of the dampening pendulum plotted in space-time forms a spiral. However, what our experiments reveal is that it is only with the introduction of the third trimension – class – that we can understand that the directionality of this spiral is externally determined, and thus begin to change its direction: to break from the dualistic rule of the line in automous directions.
To further develop the particular case of the Shifting Goalposts: we are approaching a new model (situation) of proletarianised society where – proletarianised along the trimensions of space, time and class - strikers (i.e. destructive workers) are deprived of their power. This is exactly where 3SF has much to teach us. What the Shifting Goalposts modification demonstrates is that even as the strikers are disempowered, there is occuring a simultaneous empowerment of both the aforementioned reproductive workers - to take entangled, self-organizational action - and the psychic workers (3SF players and organisers) - who are the ones who build up the situation in the first place. The moving goalposts (i.e. dead workers) thus offer timely, (spacey and classy) advice for further dérive (psychic workers union) transfigurations.