Performing Efficiency, Performing Speed

"Faster than a ray of light she's flying...Trying to remember where it all began..."

[this morning I'm beginning from home with a Madonna song lyric. got the coffee going, so I can speed up the production of this text...]


“One is always located at a post through which various kinds of messages pass...One’s mobility in relation to these language game effects...is even solicited by regulatory mechanisms, and in particular by the self-adjustments the system undertakes in order to improve its performance. It maybe even be said that the system can and must encourage such movement to the extent that it combats its own entropy; the novelty of an unexpected ‘move,’ with its correlative displacement of a partner or group of partners, can supply the system with that increased performativity it forever demands and consumes,” (15).

Thus we are physically also attuning our bodies to move in a similar fashion as our communication systems --- with the greatest degree of performativity. In running, for example, athletes training to be at the top of the game are coached to regulate each individual movement so that the maximum use of effect is achieved through the most minimal expenditure of energy. Similarly, efficiency of gasoline has become the new rhetoric of car ownership: advertisements for more fuel-efficient models use their opposition to SUVs as their selling point. This program of efficiency is located in the use of technology to increase the rate at which various tasks are performed.

“Speed is the form of ecstasy the technical revolution has bestowed on man,” (Kundera 2).

In the context of complexity, Mark Taylor explores the notion of speed becoming an end in itself, a result of the acceleration of the rate of change. In his introduction to The Moment of Complexity Taylor suggests that there is an increased desire for simplicity as things MOVE from lesser to greater complexity, “in today’s world, however, simplicity has become an idle dream that can no longer be realized,” (Taylor 3). If simplicity cannot be achieved, perhaps the alternative is ESCAPE.

ESCAPE and SPEED are connected experiences. The degree to which the PHYSICAL BODY is engaged in producing the speed (i.e. the amount of technology involved: runner versus cyclist versus car driver) is perhaps what dictates the experience of ESCAPE and hence the pleasure of its ecstasy.

Cycle, 2004
Kathryn Cornelius
T610 mobile phone digital photograph

Drive #1, 2004
Kathryn Cornelius
T610 mobile phone digital photograph

“I am driving my car too fast with ecstatic music on.”

Lyrics from Bjork, Violently Happy