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Flesh football

“I love to be shit bored and that an event springs out of nowhere”

Tristan Garcia

With its prime ambition to reenact football as an autonomous art form – boarding on a social experiment - A.S Velasca is by no means stepping back to the dribbling football with its archaic 1-2-7 formation once assimilated to the pre-offside rule era. It’s a given that football as we know it was born out of modernity thus belonging to the mechanical age of the late 19th century. When matches were first broadcasted in the thirties with only two cameras it was more about documenting the event than the spectacle. Yet in those early broadcasting days a new form of player was already being engineered by the sheer fact of performing before the scrutinizing camera apparatus - somewhat like Muybridge decomposing athlete movements long before cinema became an art form television was probing performances and collecting data long before we turned digital. Ever since the 1978 World Cup the authenticity issue about football keeps resurfacing like a six former theme glibly asking if TV wasn’t becoming football’s demiurge to the point of reshaping technical tricks to the expense of the game itself and the collective spirit consequently imposing a “fetishisation of speed”. One can only admit though with some Promethean shame that the acceleration of social change induced by technology has contracted the present to the point where we no longer solely inhabit a biological time. As Gustave Flaubert puts it: “the more telescopes are improved more stars we discover…” this could be stated without a doubt about football’s evolution in the high-tech digital age whereby each player has become the object of a constant screen test like an actor. Since FC Barcelona has devised the aggressive ball possession aesthetics football is more statistical than tactical and mostly because the concept of pause doesn’t work in the language of television. Marshall McLuhan described mediums as environments altering our nervous system meaning here that contemporary football has in a way gone post-human and this is probably what Arsène Wenger asserted when he called Lionel Messi a “Playstation player”… Tika-taka tika-taka. But in our late modernity rounded by algorithms and data made flesh it will only take a cleansing moment of clarity to see that no longer is human seen as the source from which emanates the mastery to dominate and control the environment. This brings us back to the authenticity blind spot asking in angst what is left of the human presence. Despite the paradox that contemporary football has not yet endorsed the hawk eye video system that tennis players have to endure – considering the human as a contingent variable or simply sport as a mere crime scene - it still aims at the cyber fantasy of a disembodied art form where patterns prevail. Whereas A.S. Velasca is more on the slow foot side of things with chaos as an emergent form of life where randomness is the froth of noise from which coherent microstates evolve and to which living systems owe their capacity for fast, flexible responses. Slow football is the creative ground from which pattern can emerge: the medium is the process. Human attention has become a scarce commodity.

Adrian O. Smith

From the 15th Velasca's bollettino [ >> bollettino ]