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Subject To Review

 

The rise of the instant replay system Hawk-Eye in professional tennis probes how the technology exposes deeper questions of spectacle, justice, and imperfect human knowledge.

The author of essay-films as dense as they are accessible, subtle and seductive, including « Rat Film », which follows the tracks of rodents to explore Baltimore’s social history, Theo Anthony returns with « Subject to Review », an investigation into tennis umpiring techniques which was produced (and broadcast!) by the American sports channel ESPN and which more broadly applies to contemporary technologies claiming to interpret the world objectively. After a brief historical detour via the zoopraxography of Muybridge – the ancestor of a cinema applied to mapping animal movements and then to umpiring horse-race finishes –, Theo Anthony takes an interest in the Hawk-Eye system. Initially designed to provide television audiences with instant replay of a point, Hawk-Eye was gradually integrated into the arsenal of umpiring systems to decide for or against a contested point and counter possible human errors at the players’ request. Taking advantage of moments during the organisation of a match, Theo Anthony takes us inside the calibration of this simulation software to expose its functioning, its approximations and weaknesses. In this way, he invites questions about the imperious and invisible authority of allegedly exact and objective systems, inside and outside the tennis court.

Antoine Thirion

PRINT SOURCE: ESPN Films, Eve.S.Wulf@espn.com

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