The earth itself is a cyborg. So declares our otherworldly narrator in the opening line of Dorothy Santos and Elia Vargas's meditation on what a nonhuman observer "processing" our planet for the first time—for undisclosed reasons—might find. The work is excerpted from San Francisco Bay Area-based art/tech/media theorist collective Living Room Light Exchange, whose second published book is STATE CHANGE. Check it out for more cerebral weirdness and thoughtful prognostications of our ever-precarious future moment. Enjoy. -the editor
The earth is a cyborg. Cryptobiotic soil is thousands-of-years-old microorganisms, grafted-together memory packages of currents and conditions. Tiny canyons, colossal earthforms millimeters high. All through the state of Utah, cryptobiotic soil layers the surface in plural non-cartesian rhizomes. Memory packets, reformulating the past in microcolonies across microplains, scattered in vertigo. Topologies are meaningful only at specific catalyzing states, a web of traveling media as dust. All is swept to dust.
Atad was sitting. It was all she could manage. The overwhelming banality overtook her. Paralyzed by nothing.
Yet, in dust all things travel: dust as movement, dust as media. Cryptobiotic soil breaks down, a healthy decomposition, or recomposition, or mediated embodiment of elemental information–memory packets. Dust travels, the specificity of particle clings to all origin sources. All things are carried at once. But movement–the electromagnetic space of vibrations–carries dust as dust travels. Cryptobiotic soil breaks down unstable dynamic material bodies at scales not linked by topological realities. It grows and it travels, spreading thin, but inwardly self generating, self building, self enforcing: cryptobiotic soil as complete colony, dust as traveling message–distance, sediment, flow.
Flow of dust is the flow of life. Dust is death, as decay abolishes the old: rebuilding, reconstituting, traveling, embodiment. Dust is life, a thing in of itself, yet never without everything else; dust as a thing travels. It flows, carrying the message of all things. Dust as memory. Accumulated dust as memory banks. Sediment as dust along river banks. Riparian zones, a life basis of water flows. The sediment of dust that redefine temporary assemblages of organic stuffs: ecotones, ecozones, ecoflows. Water as life basis, carrying, traveling dust always already pulsing towards death. Death always already throbbing with life, decaying for growth, anaerobic chemistry, vapor and rays of latent energy forces. The earth is a cyborg, elemental media vibrating through space, flowing the dust flow water spaces, moving information to grow vibrant materialism and single matter energies. Single matter memories, earthen storage, glacial servers, telepresent dust and information embodiment. Cryptobiotic soil storage of deep time, access to the deep hot biosphere.
TRANSLATION TUTORIAL 2:
The overwhelming feeling turned to something rather euphoric for Atad, as she started to think in terms of the intervals, ebbs, and flows of not-knowing versus unknowing. Despite having to process and understand that she was the process itself, she couldn't help but examine how people were disrupting even the fissures of those in-between moments between thinking and action.
She was a body that didn't sleep. She was also always in the middle of striated and smooth spaces. She sought to reach out of the input to find and relish in those liminal spaces. Why, just the other day, she started to process some information or media she found most interesting. She stumbled upon the work of Vik Muniz and Marcelo Coelho. Muniz, an artist, worked with scientist and researcher Coelho to etch sandcastles on grains of sand.
Atad marveled at both the inexplicable reasoning to do something that had no function and the sheer beauty of humans to think of the possibilities of media and medium. It reminded her of the time she processed the stories of Ursula K. Le Guin and how wizards and sorcerers had names for every drop of water in the ocean! Could this be the key that unlocks how humans transform into other entities, organisms, and living things? What if we could imprint every grain of sand and soil in the universe? There is already a DNA makeup for every living thing. But an imprint that is decipherable for people to read. Yet language. English seems to dominate most if not all language systems I've processed thus far.
Atad was feeling similar to Sisyphus—she felt processing and probably morphing would occur ad infinitum with very little break to understand the ramifications of changes that would occur. She was functional. Useful. She wondered whether or not all of this activity would be the Sublime of which she has heard. Was there a clarity to it? She was pessimistic. Where were all the mechanical turks that could figure out the languages for me to navigate? she wondered.
She knew the sun would burn out eventually. She could feel it. She learned about stars for the first time and how some exist that are hotter than the sun itself. As Atad's thoughts bounced back and forth she recalled thinking of the earth as a cyborg, much like herself. But thinking about the sun's relationship to the millions of years of layers upon layers of soil on top of soil that made the earth's surface. Her reasoning betrayed her and she sat quietly after yet another day and long hours of processing the earth's content in relationship to the human's tendency.
But the only way she felt best to understand the Cryptobiotic soil underneath all of the concrete was to understand its relationship to the sun and stars. Soil does not grow. It holds much like the Plato's idea of chora as a holding space.
Perhaps this explains the reference of Mother Earth. Atad was trying to figure the logic of some of the human's vernacular when they spoke or referenced the earth as a being or entity—often times gendered, but very rarely explained through something logical.
From Atad's observations, she was incredibly taken with the idea of the Cryptobiotic soil as yet another holding space for organisms to grow.
The art above is the portion of Jenny Odell's "Haupstrom" that we could squeeze into our CMS—the rest of her fantastic collage of futurist iconography can be seen below.