Noon — A biannual magazine which explores art and commerce in contemporary culture
Noon is a biannual magazine which explores art and commerce in contemporary culture
To get a name is one of the few things that cannot
be bought. It is the free gift of mankind, which must
be deserved before it will be granted.
(Samuel Johnson, The Idler)
In 1980 novice runner Rosie Ruiz took a sizeable
shortcut whilst competing in the Boston Marathon.
Consequently, she placed first in the female category
that year, crossing the finishing line in just over
two and a half hours; a race time that would have been
the fastest for a female athlete in Boston Marathon’s
history as well as the third-fastest female time ever
recorded in any marathon. Doubts about the veracity
of the win were soon raised. Spectators and runners
alike stated that they could not recall seeing Ruiz
during the race, whilst sports commentators found her
untrained physique puzzling. After an investigation,
Ruiz was disqualified, and the winner’s medal was
quietly conferred to Jacqueline Gareau in a discreet
ceremony a week later. In 2005, twenty-five years after
the event, the home straight of the marathon was re-
staged sans Ruiz, with 3000 spectators attending the
scene to watch and cheer as Gareau was photographed
breaking the tape at the finishing line – a gesture
to finally and symbolically correct the wayward
narrative of the 1980 race. Even as simulacrum the
act mattered; it was the performance – the face of it –
that supplied agency. Ruiz maintains her innocence to
Around seven billion beating human hearts surround us. Piped and swaddled in sticky tissues, red, pink and yellowish. Growing. Hot, and rhythmically twitching, suspended in wet flesh.
They plane, between perhaps one half and six feet from the floor, at ground level, stacked in rough columns skywards. And they’re moving, always moving, until they’re not. Pulsing yes, but also carried – bounded within rib fingers – moving forwards, up steps, at times tipped horizontal, rolling.
Momentarily, I think of them without their accoutrements: arteries and cartilage; lungs, legs and flanks; sinews and spines – all rendered invisible. And I see the throbbing hearts alone, occupying varying heights and paths. Darting, hovering, on strange trajectories.
THREE OF FIVE
Language is the underwriter of all sorting: rendering what is said, and sayable, apart from what is unsaid, and unsayable; and therefore at root what it thinkable apart from what is not. Language must humanise us, for what is thought without words? Untempered affect, no doubt, experienced unsatisfyingly alone. We address our interiority through talk. From our pit of self-feeling, we send signals, and seek recognition in and through others. Meaning, springing from the dark space of thought. Like millstone grit in the sun, we glint, despite our corporeal opacity, and enter – through no small magical act – discrete imaginations. We achieve this first via utterances, made up of phonemes issued into the air, ringing in ears and conjuring scenes in the minds of others.
‘Hello 5409’, like birdsong, I mimicked. Deemed old enough
by my parents, and allowed to answer the family phone,
I baldly imitated the salutation proffered by them to
our callers. Our home phone number: 0161 428 5409,
melodically inscribed in memory still. I would practice a
telephone voice, my accent wavering through the years,
from glottal-stop Mancunian, to a softened, sanitized
grammar school tone. Our family phone sat always on
the kitchen windowsill, alongside the dining table where
we would eat our tea. I can dimly recall a circle-fronted
pulse dial, replaced later by a beige BT touchtone with
a dirtying spiral cord. One by one we would sit to take
or make calls, talking idly or animatedly, forcing and
reshaping its wire around fingers, working out the reverse loops absentmindedly, or encasing pens within it.
It was 2013 when a hacker going by the moniker Guccifer leaked a series of correspondence from George W. Bush’s personal email account. Amidst the missives, was an intriguing exchange between Bush and his sister containing photographs of several art works in progress, painted by the former president. One canvas depicted a figure – whom we can safely assume is G.W. - laying twine-toed in a half-filled bath. The warped perspective allows us to see as Bush sees; immersed in tub-bound ruminations sweated out in a hot wet heat. The other is a self-portrait of Bush stood in a shower. The viewer observes Bush from behind; from the waist up, standing naked. The muscles of his back are tensed, shaping his shoulders into an enfeebled hunch. Attached to the wall we see a small mirror, in which Bush’s gaze is reflected. This is a strange painting indeed. Why did he create it? What is that furtive look? Is he startled? Anxious?
Through disinhibition and anonymity, the interface of the computer screen facilitates embellished, exaggerated and eroticised representation. From the edited personae presented on social networks to provocations spewed by trolls, the cat-fished sportsmen and the humans masquerading as Twitterbots, the Internet is a domain where fantasies may flourish. As such, fanfiction – or fanfic – has found a perfect platform on which to thrive.
Fanfic is a bona fide cultural phenomenon; a gargantuan, sprawling, largely online literary subculture consisting of websites filled with stories written by fans about their favorite subjects in popular culture.
'It is an act of consummate self-determination –
the constant re-establishment of the parameters of one’s being’
(Joyce Carol Oates, On Boxing)
In 1996, two New York University film students carried a
handheld Sony camcorder through the streets of Brooklyn
into a boxing gym, capturing footage which became
the extraordinary documentary feature On The Ropes
(1999). Working on a college assignment, the filmmakers
Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen had intended to
detail the individual stories and training regimen of three
young boxers, Noel Santiago, George Walton and Tyrene
Manson–all regulars at the New Bed-Stuy Boxing Center
(which Burstein also frequented)–along with those of
their remarkable coach Harry Keitt. Captured as cinéma
vérité over a 3-month period in mid-90s New York, the
outcome is a profoundly moving piece of work which
documents not only of the immediate experiences of the
young people and their mentor, but the subject’s situated
social histories, variously riven with the inequalities,
poverties, and modes of oppression that so characterised
late 20th century America.