In a strange American film which is showing on TV you can see machine insects that have come together to protect each other by any means available to them, which it has to be said doesn't seem to be much. They are hiding under sofas, in the dark spaces beneath cupboards, amoungst the detritus that collects neneath beds, behind doors and so on, it's not that different really from organic insects, especially when they venture out from the dark corners to circle around light bulbs.
Like everybody else Steve looks at these images anthropomorphically trying to rationalise the insectoid behavior. The machine insects decide to protect themselves. It looks for light, it hides deliberately beneath the sofa. But for all this (which is an initial attempt at creating a virtual version of what was called instinct in an equally vaguely anthromorphic attempt at naming) it of course happens outside of any form of consciousness, however rudimentory this may turn out to be. If Steve looks at it from the exterior, the outside, what is left for him? simply a mechanism, as alien as a may bug or a millipede, something as impossible to empathise with as a decaying leaf, or the flow of water down an inclined plane, or the weeds that are growing up through the cracks in the paving stones, unless of course you're a Zen master in which case these things are terribly interesting.
This is naturally enough terribly depressing for Steve, and he tells himself and anyone else who will listen that only extrapolation and intrapolation is possible.
Zilch matters - he tells the small machines that are crawling around the light bulb and noisily bumping against the window panes attracted by the bright light of light bulbs - in a fit of existential crisis.
Steve de Vos - London October 1996
Steve and his Email
Introduction to the Hypertext Novel
Back to Outwork 1