space

Flowing with the go

I’m in this fluid space, where fluidity is contained and made safe. A place of becoming aquatic mammals, bodies directed into rooms to transform, emerging and submerging revealing skin and hiding eyes behind artificial lenses, protected and vulnerable. Directed and patrolled spaces of chaos. A warning light and siren but no one is afraid a groaning, yawning mouth transforms the liquid medium into a new force, a slow moving wave, bodies scatter and flow into new territories. New flows, surface tensions break there is laughter and screaming, delight and concern a new uncertainty. Tossed, jumbled, scattered at the mercy of surges and flows both visible and invisible densities changing. Silence, the mechanical maw closes and order returns.

Through the door lines and lanes define spaces a clock is marking time. Lessons to learn bodies talking the unfamiliar with new movement, new patterns. Order and purposeful disciplined and regimented repetition with variation encoding technique. Separated and segregated together under the watchful gaze of instructors.

A strange disjuncture on the other side of the glass, an empty space, no water. Concrete and tiles dry, framed in fencing. A disabled space, functionally impaired now without a purpose, closed to the public and hidden from view awaiting to be rehabilitated, to be use-full again. Without the refraction of water I notice the slope of the floor beckons a flicker of recognition – 1970’s California drought and the birth of pool skating, a moment in time that ruptured and broke free enabling new movement to occur, deterritorialised and re-territorialized, this concrete cousin born after that time will never feel rolling urethane. I glance at the diving platform and the chasm below suggestive of an abseil tower. What it could become but will not. Out of order.

Yes I was at the pool today and I didn’t swim but I was fully immersed in my thoughts with Deleuze and Barad keeping me company in a strange exhilarating intra-action, or maybe it is just the chlorine fumes.

 

A Plutonic Relationship

It has taken nearly 10 years for the New Horizons to reach Pluto. Radio signals take four and a half hours to get back, nothing new if you’re used to trying to get a response from a call centre. Pluto represents a threshold of sorts. Probes are the new ships of discovery at the mercy of Newtons laws and the winds of political and scientific change. Billions of kilometres travelled and yet not even a stones throw from our door step. On the same day another group of physicist discovered a new quantum particle, a pentaquark. Pluto or particle these are moments of wonder to expand our still limited and sheltered understanding of reality. But as we look outward and beyond or inward I can’t discern the difference. I feel simultaneously a drop of water in the ocean and the ocean. However above all else seeing other planets that have no life as we know it living on them reminds me of how absolutely insane the human race is. Our relationship with the world we inhabit is nothing short of psychopathic. We are not custodians but criminals at best. There is only one thing driving the ecosystem to the brink and it is us. If there was a lonely planet guide for the earth it might read something like:

“The jewel of this system with liquid water and amazing biodiversity. However it is currently experiencing a human plague so best to give a wide berth as they are hostile and paranoid with egos and childlike needs for power. Their selfishness and fear is matched only by their untapped creativity and love. The level of contamination and destruction of life this one species has created in the name of what they call progress suggests they will either destroy themselves along with this wonderful one of a kind world or die trying. Explore the rich ocean life while you can. Remember they believe they are the only intelligent life to have ever existed so best to go incognito. If you intend to stay for a while masquerading as a scientist is easy just do not tell them they are wrong about anything and best not to leave anything behind they could blow themselves up with, they discovered nuclear power and still haven’t learnt their lesson. The best example of a human disguise is going by the name Steven Hawking, however the physiology did not merge so well in the end. Finally you will need to get used to the concept of money. Again, do not try and convince them do not need it to survive”.

Thanks science for the amazing pictures but what really needs a good probe is us.

A Probing Question

So a washing machine sized probe lands on a rock after travelling for 10 years only to hide in the shadows with it’s legs serving little purpose yet still functioning and performing its job. Well there you go…in space what is the point of legs? In fact I suggest all astronauts of the future actually get used to the idea of not walking. For that matter, why would your functioning bi-pedally in earth gravity be relevant to working in space? Surely having unnecessary limbs like legs could be a hindrance? They certainly look like awkward appendages flopping around in zero G.

But back to our wee probe Philae. We like our wee robots and probes so long as they stay under human control. Send it commands, it does its thing and it takes pretty pictures, drills holes, takes samples, wanders around (if it’s on Mars), but ultimately it is responding to human commands. Artificial intelligence has yet to feature in our space exploration and here is why I think it never should or could.
Imagine if Rosetta and Philae were like Hal from 2001 – but perhaps a little less paranoid. They get shot off into space for 10 years away from their other AI mates on earth, just the two of them. You’d better hope they like each other’s company. And what if they decide ‘naaaa why are we chasing a comet? Lets bail and catch up with that numpty Cassini see if it wants to take some selfies in front of Titan’. So I say keep with the low tech – it’s safer for other planets and space users in general.

And back to the issue of gravity. Really that is the only force regulating our need to walk upright – or semi upright. Functionality and the definition of mobility absolutely depends on gravity and friction. But overcome gravity and you have no need to worry about friction. Therefore AI would best be put aside for creating simple and effective anti-gravity devices to levitate the playing field of mobility here on earth.

The next big thing to get off the earth is the James Webb telescope in 2018. It will take 30 days to get into an L2 orbit…over a million miles from earth. It will be 7 and a half times bigger than hubble and look over 4.3 billion years into the ‘Universe’….that is some serious naval gazing. If it was going to have a voice I’d hope it would be slightly hippy sounding ‘like faarrr out man…I just saw the most amazing quasar dude…check it out’ … much nicer than the creepy neurotic ‘I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that’ but it will just send back pretty pictures without any commentary which perhaps is kind of sad after all.
Maybe they could program it with some David Attenborough voice overs as images come in ‘and here we see the wild gases of the nebula condensing and finally igniting to give birth…to a star.’

…actually it’s a good thing in space no-one can hear you scream.