The Gates of Now (Part 01)

“I’m telling you bro! Shit’s gonna go down!” Peter frantically exclaimed.

“There is no way I am gonna survive through that shit.” Carl replied.

A rusty robotic voice interrupted the conversation: “Attention organic members of C6412, we are now conducting DNA scannings for your convenience!” 

“Come on we’re up.” Peter smacked Carl in the arm as they hustled through a mob of humans, cyborgs and mutants confusedly trying to find their way around.

Peter and Carl were at threshold 42069, the only threshold allowing them to enter the group C6412; it was a risk that involved giving up a lot of information. The two friends were okay with this, they were fed up. Ever since the government had control of most human information the notion of losing an organic piece of one’s self did not matter anymore, it was about survival more than anything.

Peter and Carl made it to the portal, it was massive; a wall and a gate composed of energy. It had monolithic features yet it felt light and welcoming. Three large cyborgs stood at the gate, they stood still and calm, staring at the crowd, concentrating on details. One of them was holding what appeared to be a rectangular device no larger than your average grimy bible at a roach motel three thousand years ago. They glided the device in front of Peter’s face, then on Carl’s. The cyborg asked them: “Where does the buck stop?”

Carl quickly replied: “The buck never stops!”

The cyborg gestured them to walk as two large openings “dissolved” momentarily to let them inside.  They disappeared as the gate regained its original form.

 

Three thousand years ago there was a war. It wasn’t a physical war, it was an information war. Humans were enamored with information technology, it was heavily relied on, and the tipping point came when people could no longer control the impact of information on human psyche. Anonymity not only helped in obscuring identities but it instigated individuals to peruse their deepest darkest desires. It wasn’t enough to seek these gratifications “online”. Pleasure, wealth, entertainment, destruction etc. moved away from the virtual world into another world. Not quite physical, not quite virtual, somewhere in between, a liminal space of entropy where hybrid mutations dwell. A social duality where there is a constant struggle.

The outcome of years of this war were changes in evolution. Not only in the natural world but in the built world as well. The grandiose city became monuments of unhealthy density, promoting incurable diseases in its population, leading to years of mutations. Human mutations did not take long to spread globally; sick mutants remained in the dense world, adapting, evolving, and getting stronger. The human population who remained somewhat “untouched” were the farmers, villagers, and the people from the fringes. The same could be said for architecture. Architecture mutations were inevitable, except for the architecture of the fringes, slowly maintaining.

“C6406 was so much better, too bad those fuckers shut it down.” Anna said while lighting up a cigarette. “Where were you guys before coming here?” She asked.

“We were at ‘Ducks and Decorated Sheds’ getting some vintage goodies.” Peter said smiling.

“That’s so fucking ugly and ordinary!” Anna said in a disgusted tone.

“Don’t knock it till you try it.” Peter barked back.

“Oh I’ve tried it alright, hated it!” Anna was agitated.

“What’s your problem? Why you gotta be so stuck up?” Peter said in an obvious pissed off tone.

“Listen, I am not stuck up, I am a realist. I actually got a few books from ‘Ducks and Decorated Sheds’. You know those things that you only heard of in some group of old farts trying to reminiscence about a time that never was. Well those little antiquated devices have primitive information written in them. Some of them talk about an idea of a utopia, everyone getting along with each other. It is the biggest load of shit I have ever heard in my life, it is ugly and unrealistic.” Anna rambled on.

“You must be fun at parties.” Carl said smirking.

 

Anna was a product of her environment. Ever since the end of the war, sickness, mutations and the domination by cyborgs, the world was segregated. Most humans only dealt with other humans, mutants with mutants and cyborgs with cyborgs. At least in the main domains. Peter, Carl and Anna like to hang out in the underground, the underbelly of this new controlled civilization. The organization of this new world is similar to the internet of three thousand years ago. The debris of flamboyant architectural explorations now just serves as a host for different environments dispersed through the landscape of the once spurious Beijing. Energy thresholds connect passages to different worlds clinging to ruins of starchitecture like parasites. Each world or “pocket” is a different experience that tests one’s senses and status in the evolutionary spectrum.

Like the archaic cyberspace, these environments have different degrees of accessibility. Three thousand years ago one had to click yes to the “terms of service” agreement in order to enter certain cyber spaces. This technology transcended into the Meta physical environment that highly evolved species now occupy.

It all started with the typology of the Plaza. The allure of comfort and commodities disguised as technological advances kept pushing people to give up more information in order to “simplify” their lives. The Plaza, was one of the last free public physical spaces, it became evident to the people in control that it needed to be “managed”. Tiananmen Square was the first example of SPSD or Selective Public Space Discipline. Eventually every public space required an analysis, an eye scan, a DNA sample, voice recognition etc. For hundreds of years it became the normal conditions of the population. Until someone figured out how to hack the system.

“So what the fuck is this new group about?” Anna asked her two friends.

“Do you even wanna be here?” Peter said.

“I do but it just seems that one group goes down and another one pops up with a bigger promise of liberation just to get shut down again, it really is discouraging.”

“Well I understand your disappointment but the only way to survive is to keep on trying until we figure it out. I heard a mutant is running this group and it sounds promising.”

“A fucking mutant!” Anna screamed. In the space full of mutants and cyborgs with almost no humans on sight.

“Shut the fuck up.” Peter whispered. “Are you trying to get us killed or are you just that stupid?”

“I’m sorry.” Anna embarrassingly apologized.

 

Petohmi is his name. Mutant revolutionary, he had a history as a problem solver, most mutants were brute and incoherent, and years of sickness had destroyed their brain’s capabilities of rationality. Mutants were physically strong but intellectually weak. Petohmi was part of a new breed of mutants who had escaped the disease infected nodes of the super cities. These mutants rapidly developed ingenuity in the fringes. It became clear to them that there was a problem of oppression in the organized system of government controlling all the population of The New Republic of Asia.

Most humans had only heard anecdotes of mutants like Petohmi but rarely had a human come to contact with one of them. Peter, Carl and Anna joined the now growing gathering of followers who stood in front of what appeared to be a moving tree, a large organic body attached to a base of energy. The crowd fell silent. There was a flash in the vast space, the tree like object slowly transformed into a large humanoid figure.

“Fellow citizens of the world, a wise man once said: ‘The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” Petohmi enthusiastically addressed the crowd.

The crowd went up in roar.

Image by  Hector Aramburo

Image by Hector Aramburo

Prisoners of Consciousness

It is no secret that materialism thrives in today’s society, especially in the American culture. We are in love with material things. These things are becoming part of us; at the same time they are becoming less material and more digital. For instance the cell phone is a constant reminder that we need to be connected, fulfilling a primal desire of belonging to a tribe. For a lot of us our lives revolve around being connected to these digital tribes. We are being controlled by this technology.

 Since Google announced the release of “Google glasses” there has been a lot of theories and speculation on the potential of this technology. As consumers we are lazy, we love commodities, the allure of technological advancements to make our lives easier is overpowering us. As technology evolves it will become more intrusive disguised as comfort.  Soon voice commands are not going to be convenient enough and we will need to be wired directly through our brains to access digital information. It will be the beginning of singularity, the cyborg era.

 Everybody is going to be walking around with accessibility to a database directly from our brains. The mere action of thinking will bring up access to infinite amount of information available through the Internet. This of course will come with the deserved dangers of misuse of this technology. In the same spirit as today cyber criminals hack into websites to steal credit card information, there will be hackers accessing our brains for different purposes. Torture, pleasure, escapism, fetishes, education and even imprisonment will be delivered through manipulation of our minds.

 Recent political events (see the NSA fiasco) have showed us that governments are not timid about manipulation of technology and information to meet a certain agenda. It is irrelevant whether justice motivates their intent or it is motivated by evil, the point is that this is already happening. They will try to rationalize this intrusiveness as a means to a justice adequate for the time. This will come as imprisonment of consciousness, the restraining of freedom through hacking the human brain.

 Hefty campaign donations will still lead to federal contracts and private companies will still capitalize on the business of imprisonment. The typology of prisons will dramatically change. There will no longer be the necessity for monolithic walls enclosing a community of criminals. Natural disasters caused by global warming will destroy the cityscape. There will still be a need to where to store the bodies of the prisoners, an incubator where they will be “connected” to their respective sentence.

 The fast and extreme changes in climate will force these incubators to be flexible and able to relocate at the drop of a dime. They will attach like parasites to any convenient remains of buildings. This architecture will have to be pushed away, far from the sight of the mass population. It will constantly be morphing, moving, re-inventing but never forgiving.

Image by  Hector Aramburo

Image by Hector Aramburo