Cyberspace, Cyberpunks, and Fragments On Machines -Mike

A scene from the original Tron (1982) showing one of the original representations of Cyberspace

A scene from the original Tron (1982) showing one of the original representations of Cyberspace

The general consensus today is that the Internet is not a physical place. This has been perpetuated by late 80’s, early 90’s, obsession with cyber culture and cyberspace. Movies like Hackers popularized this notion that true understanding of the Internet and networks was directly correlated to cyberpunks and this futuristic idea of a dystopian society run by the Internet or the Web. The Internet became fetishized and mystified. It became a parody of itself, and if you’re confused as to where I am going with this or are not sure how this is possible take a look at this.  This obsession with “cyberspace” abstracted what the Internet truly is, a series of wires and electrical impulses that crisscross the world. Emma Charles is directly attacking this notion in Fragments On Machines. Emma shows through her documentary the physicality of the Internet, and how dependent upon it we have become. Entire infrastructures have been built to maintain this rhizomatic structure that is meant to grow organically.

“My muscle has been replaced by flex in copper, my brain a server, 1’s and 0’s my voice. I exist as a phantom under iridescent color. I speak in shimmering tones to the hidden construction of the form. I desire to become data. I will be mobile. Moving to provide. I will become information flow. I am your personal relationship to the source. I become more and more. I move in and out of position several times a day. I adjust by fractions to adapt to my surroundings. I collect, I discard, I seek positive results. And in the purge at the end of the day, I refresh, renew, liquidate, and realign my entire self. “

We are so quick to accept and rely on the Internet as an extension of our very beings and ourselves. We pour our lives onto the Internet and Emma shows how much we have personified the Internet with her documentary. Yet, even in an age where the line between human thought and machine learning is becoming increasingly more blurred we still deny that the Internet is a physical place. My ecology project attempts to do the very same that Emma Charles did with this video, to show the physicality of the Internet. The Internet/Web has life cycles, whether it is measured in epochs of Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 or how it is in tune with our circadian rhythms (it is the first thing we check in the morning). Packets are the bare bone element of this physicality and with the shortest life cycle (averaging less than a couple seconds). This is why it is important, from an ecological standpoint, to look at them when trying to do an ecology of the Internet. Packets a seemingly endless commodity, but yet they are as vital to the Internet as the wires themselves.

If you want to learn more about the physicality of the Internet and the infrastructure that has grown around it in New York watch this video below.


-Mike Lorenz


~ by Michael Lorenz on February 24, 2014.

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