the rite of computing

we saw the tipping points being crossed, and yet the same behavior
destruction was all around, even in the use of our tools of creation
what could we do? how could we engage? how could we disengage?
we thought of reinventing computers
homegrown, homemade…
a game, a party, a dance
maybe in that way we would understand?
maybe in that way we would know if we want to keep them?
the following are some of our notes, thoughts, conversations, actions…


– i wonder what happens when you remove efficiency, speed
– the machine doesn’t seem to complain
– it comes with a great cost
– some beings at the service of others, is that the natural order?
– you thought and asked, until you realized you put yourself on fire
– the higher one gets, and the more one on others depends…
– how bad you think the fall will be?
– how long will the internet live once the humans are gone?


the person is given a ruleset
a table
current configuration
encountered symbol
what to put instead
where to move
next configuration

the floor is prepared
a row of symbols
mosaic of colors
in a spiral
around the fire

the person enters the space
drums start playing
the person starts moving
a configuration becomes a state of being
a sequence of movements
the mosaics are replaced
(make sure you don’t lose track)
transitions from a state to another
the spiral becomes another
we expect the process
we expect the result

after hours of a body
becoming a body
emulating a body
who moves and sweats
losing (but not really) breath
the iteration is complete


– can we talk about rewilding computers?
– were they wild to start with?
– how wild or not is a division
– of time and space in slots
– ever-decreasing measures
– changes of state?
– the revolution, the transcription, life
– no boundaries, really, but in our self
– and that one, really, also emerges
– maybe you mean getting rid of the rigid cover
– curving the interconnections
– the differences are fluid
– with or without extremes?
– i lost you
– destroying the shiny, embracing the earth
– a cracked screen carried away by the sea?
– that would probably kill us
– with emergence we understand we can’t understand
– is it a useful model?
– model? useful? it?
– number of processors versus grains of sand?
– and if we become just a probe?
– i dissolve, the computer
– the transformation carries on


– think about the apparently unnatural…
– creating vacuum…
– manipulating beams of charge and light…
– wiring thousands, cooling their surrounding air…
– later inserting billions in a little block of sand
– why not just chill and enjoy the beach?
– there was a war
– and then the promise of productivity
– why not just chill and enjoy the beach?


a tape in the form of a series of objects in some kind of slots
each object a symbol
maybe pieces of cloth in a clothesline
or pieces of paper on the floor
soft and flexible
an object signals the current position of the head
maybe a stool to reach above
or a long stick that rests and points

a group of people is engaged
each one of them with a different command:
if you encounter the short object in the tape
replace it with the thin
move the head to the left

and get the long-haired person to continue
different combinations
fragments of behavior
nobody knows what is really happening
and yet, the computation occurs


– can you tell me again about your project?
– project, ceremony, dance, choreography… computer!
– i wonder how can someone end up there
– it’s just about imagining alternatives, trying to reinvent…
– is this a solution to a problem? what if everybody does as you?
– they originated with war in body and mind
– and they have very good uses despite that; they saved me!
– what about realizing they are made through destruction?
– it might be practical: destroying the old and the weak
– and we will drown by powering them
– i hope we can upload our consciousness by then?
– you might emulate yourself in rocks


a group of people arrives to the floor that suddenly becomes a stage
bare feet, skin in the air with no layers in between
they move without the code that you would expect
(but with a different set of rules, what do they encode?)
eye contact, spatial awareness, flow
a self-generated oscillation
one of them observes other two
based on the three states, this one responds
repeat the same for each body
a cell made of cells
the pulse that reminds of a distant past
sweat that would short-circuit your board
yet information travels, proceeds, evolves
unpredictable behavior except by simulation
the bodies stomp, they clap, they sing
becoming another
above? (where?) below? (where?)
it’s there!
no need to channel the earth


– i like computers
– why? they make more sense?
– maybe. complex but fabricated with heavy logic constraints…
– do you know how they work?
– that’s the question, do they work or do they just exist…
– following a hardwired behavior, filtering out noise
– only a fixed amount of values in space and time
– and yet embedded in an apparently continuous world
– where to put them in the organic-inorganic spectrum
– extracting minerals, sculpting them…
– marks are left, one at a time
– … modulating the electromagnetic spectrum all around
– wait! why are you talking about electricity, semiconductors?
– do you want to develop further?
– i’d prefer to do a backwards somersault and take a non-violent path


– the idea is that you, as an individual, follow a simple set of rules
– these rules make me depend to some extent on other individuals
– your state of being based on my state of being
– we feel a pulse arriving, and we change
– how predictable you would think a system like that is?
– i wouldn’t expect it to be completely chaotic…
– complexity… how can you think about it if it was not for it?

– each component can be part of the whole without knowing about it
– “it” being the whole or the component?
– or any of them?
– then can only one of these pieces bring the whole system down?
– the state of that answer depends on the state of your purpose
– i guess an undirected, chaotic behavior will always be alright
– the order, the function, the control are the ones that you can break
– why would we want a math-machine that doesn’t do the math right?
– there’s the poetry!
– but what about the rigor? the experience of following constraints?
– you think that is important?
– maybe it’s part of my identity
– we don’t have to do right math right
– less about me, more about the connections?
– in any case, it would be arbitrary and not too easy to get


– i’m having trouble putting the finger in the point
– is your self-protective awareness in action?
– maybe. who will want to question electronic computers.
– or productive computers, for that matter.


– i don’t know what’s a computer
– don’t worry, neither do i
– but you see it…
– i see it and i marvel
– it is only a machine
– i see how arithmetic can be done mechanically
– no need to learn, no need to understand?
– isn’t that amazing? doing something without knowing you are doing it
– small components contributing with small actions to a whole that no one knows?
– only the designer?
– and what if there is no one?
– what if they also emerged as a whole?
– and what kind of whole emerges from us?
– or where does that whole exist?
– if simple models acquire complexity so quickly…
– yes, say hi to the chaos of nature


– has lightning been captured twice, so far?
– fire, electricity, what are they?
– probably it’s the same here with computing
– one thing is to describe them working…
– visualizations, metaphors… leading to understanding what i can’t see?
– but you don’t have to, to use them
– how convenient!
– in many ways, knowing about computer architecture is completely useless
– digital circuit design as some kind of poetry?
– unless you are in one of the few companies, of course
– forcing the rocks until they can’t hold it anymore?
– the magic doesn’t disappear even if you know how to combine transistors
– magic? the mystery of computation?
– how can dead matter appear to be alive?
– and how can it replicate and build new versions of itself?


a group of people walk in the space
you see one person:
if they rise you fall
if they fall you rise
respond immediately
(as fast as your body can)
they in turn see two,
not including you
they rise only if both fall
otherwise they fall
some others see them
some others see you

every once and then
a new change occurs in the beginning
people rise
people fall
the wave propagates
there is an end
no more people rise
no more people fall
and there is a result

they take note
someone in the audience remembers
and then,
after a pause
the beginning feeds from the end
a change again
the machine is counting


originally published in adjacent, issue 5, as lengua partida (2019)
CC BY-SA 4.0

the rite of computing (la consagración de la computadora) - ADJACENT Issue 5 (web)

text accompanied by la consagración de la computadora

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