Journal Title: Wide Screen
Vol. 9, No.1, July 2022
Abstract: Shunning the welfare ideals of the Nehruvian state, India in the 1990s was framed through the notion of newness, constant change and dynamic movement: Urban vistas were architecturally reconstructed, economic policies were redrawn, middle-class ecologies were booming, and a culture of consumerism was reshaping everyday life and urban subjectivities. Amidst this shifting urban cartography of spaces and practices, the rapid rise of private television enabled the medium to embody the asymmetrical visions of transformation associated with ‘New India’. In the world of Indian sports too, this was a period marked by colossal change and movement. While cricket during this time came to acquire a bullying presence across the national sporting imaginary, other historically popular sports such as football fell from grace and persevered only within certain regional patches of the country. In this paper, I attempt a comparative history of cricket and football in post-globalization India as the games get consolidated through a constellation of neo-nationalist aspirations, private television networks, and sporting federation bodies. Unlike other sports-media arrangements in the West (Wenner 1998, Rowe 2003), I will argue that a consideration of sensorial and ‘aesthetic infrastructures’ (Larkin 2013) has been fundamental in deciding the contrasting fortunes of both cricket and football in India. In thinking through Marc Auge’s architectural landscape of supermodernity (1995), I propose the term ‘architectonics of aspiration’ to refer to an aesthetic form of image production that has guided the notions of quality and liveness for the Indian sports-broadcasting context. Moving beyond postmodern concerns of images as ‘representations,’ a consideration of aesthetic and affective dimensions allows us to pursue the materiality of images and how they feed into a larger spatial diagram of images in sports bars, bazaars, and emerging sports cafes. More significantly, in a world where virtually all elite sporting competitions are categorized as sports-media enterprises, aesthetic infrastructures enable us to think beyond a homogenous sports-media architectural experience.