× W H A T H A T H W E W R O U G H T
More was concealed than the man knew. Beneath his dark glasses. He was full of assertions as to what they would mean. The glasses. Night storm. The place where the internet rises from the sea. The movement of the water. Eddies. Pulling. The cables on the sea bed. Men stood around in trunks on the rocks. A trunk of cable rocks gently. A line of buoys out to sea, towards a ship.
I left a message, did you get it?
It'll be in the cloud, somewhere.
Lost bits… You can't tell me about it now?
Alone in the telegraph office. Stillness. The old machines still wired up, but to flailing cables, gnawed by small animals. Crumbling concrete. Disturbed by birds. The sea can be heard outside. Humanless. Empty. Cold. There was a condition that had begun to manifest. It was a kind of withdrawal sickness. The cult of the electronic image. Bathed in electric light. That specific vibration. The soothing pulse of blue light against skin. Patients were treated using sessions within illuminated immersion tanks. This had itself quickly become a popular activity among various communities. The webcam image fills the monitor. They used to be so compressed, and only refreshing several times a second. The counter indicates that 25 other users are watching the feed. Of course they might not be relaying to actual observers, possibly just monitors left on, unattended. The scene is a busy city street, heavy with tourists and street vendors. The movements of people appear speeded up in their ant-like motion. Watch the light change as the day turns towards night. The destruction of the past technologies. Inscribed on caves. Migration, desert. Nomadic. Post-future. Unknowing.
Whether it's a basement or the fuckin' desert it doesn't matter man.
The whole thing is contained in the singular experience of working alone at the terminal, headphones on, a series of sine waves, waving. The terminal dissolves. Existence becomes the measurement of space sound between ears. This continues for the longest time. Physical illness an irritating reminder of corporeal limits. A stranger leaves his coffee and medication on the table whilst he steps outside to smoke. It tails off. The waves lull to flat. I carry a sickness inside me. I don't know if it will be diagnosed. I know that it will end me. Words begin to fail between the gaps. You push the stick forwards, gently with your left thumb. Your right thumb, strokes a similar stick towards the right. You follow the avatar on screen. The screen fills your vision. Crystal definition. Your ears are held in foam. Everything is soft. Your finger squeezes a trigger. The man kicked over the stone, gently, with his toe. The girl sat in the car. The engine idling. The lights changed around her. She was in the parking bay. She sighed. The man looked towards the car. He smiled. He turned his attention back to the small stones that lay on the pavement. She switched off the ignition and left the car. She walked close behind the man and into the store. He knelt and picked up the stone. He followed her into the store. The woman let herself drift into sleep. She lay on her partner's lap. They had a laptop beyond the woman, balanced on their legs, and tapped and roamed across the trackpad consistently. A thoughtless lullaby. The woman didn't dream anymore. Her thoughts traced the outline of her body. Her partner roaming digital terrain. The lactic light pulses. They had neighbours who were afraid of the new technology. A team installing solar panels had been chased away. When they were finally installed the neighbours had taken to sleeping in a tent in the garden, afraid of the dirty electricity. They complained of insomnia and dizziness. They howled at the moon and crowed at the dawn. She liked the machine and it's immediate physicality. Other electricity was monumental wind turbines, great waving steel or the stark cooling towers, distant towering concrete. This machine felt more real. It was like watching television, but faster. A familiar face in the quiet shopping mall. Hard to place. There, he lifts his coffee and smiles. Passed by now, one of those ascetic's from the computer store. He had diagnosed the issue and ordered new parts. It was beyond the point of containment. It was resigned to fragments. Picking. Chance encounters. A few images, captured unreasonably from the flow. These, evidence only of the observation. Things had passed through a period of interactive excitement and settled into a phase of pure reactivity. Procedural landscapes generate themselves, creating their own history, defining their scale with each passing frame. There is no way of turning. Looking back, to see if the landscape really remains. It is hard to know where it resides. It's possible that it is only within this set visible distance, and you are really static. You are not moving over it as a satellite. The landscape is moving, rippling, a continual whisper of vectors. Exchange of values, passed along at a molecular level. There's the feeling as the interaction with simulations becomes ever more developed, commonplace and forgetful that simulations contain us completely. She rolled the last length of fabric. Her older brothers tied ropes around both ends and threw it to their father. He hauled it up across the camel's back. Some of the others had started walking already. A trail of camels, strung out towards the sun. They were moving because of a sandstorm. She could see it already, darkening the horizon behind them. Her father called her to catch up. She ran to him. He picked her up and lifted her quickly onto the camel, sitting between the sacks of supplies and the vast fabric lengths that made up their shelters. She watched a curl of her fathers hair bouncing, uncurling and curling, as it poked free from his turban. She fell asleep between the loping motion of the camel and that curl of hair. She awoke as he father lifted her from the camel. They were separated from the rest of the train now, but her father and brothers were smiling. The horizon was still dark behind them. One of her brothers pointed to his ears.
The dunes sang. Low, booming tones. That you could feel more than hear. Her father had decided the storm would miss them. They would rejoin the group later. It was dangerous to leave the group, but it was their way that each was free to move as he chose. Her brothers argued about which dune it was, and the name they had assigned it.
I have enjoyed talking to you. Thankyou.
It's rare, in this city, to talk to a stranger.
It's good to talk.
People are lonely.
Talking reminds you that you're alive, you're part of this.
I think we rely too much on our machines. I mean, they are these portals to other people, but generally people elsewhere. Not meant for close-proximity communication… I mean, to use it, is to reach out of your current situation and tap into the streams feeding from some server, somewhere.
So, you become removed from physical space almost.
Yes, and therefore closed to communication from those around you.
Maybe we just don't know how to use the technology well enough yet.
Well maybe I'll see you online some time, or again, a lonely stranger.
Until then, farewell.
The camera tracks steadily. It hangs beneath the four spinning blades. They are loud. A tiny motor affixed to the camera keeps it level with a higher pitched electrical moan. The blades fall to the right slightly and the camera continues to track. It communicates with the room via it's flashing red light. It pauses. The rotation of the blades changes and the whole structure rotates around the axis of the sensor. Doing so the lens focuses on the shadow of the blades and it's own hanging cube. The shadow is grey against the empty white wall. Nothing could make me happier. You stare at the horizon and the world drops away. The dead sing songs. Everything was contained on magnetic tape.