Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Singularity of Kumiko letters 10-12

If you would like to catch up to what I am talking about then the previous posts can be found below. 7-9
Dear Iktomi:
     Today I woke up to Scruff licking my face.  I suddenly sat up and he was so excited to see me that he kept running in and out of my room as fast as he could until he finally launched himself onto my bed and licked me all morning.

     I am so happy Iktomi, there is no love so pure and honest as that of a dog.  Did I ever tell you that he is a German Shepherd and Border Collie mix?  Haha he is always trying to herd and protect me simultaneously. 

     I was going to search again for the door but will do that tomorrow.   Today I just want to spend with Scruff 


So the Scientypes are not too happy with the appearance of Scruff into their controlled environment.  In fact they are quite disturbed by it.  To Kumiko the appearance of Scruff has washed away much of the gloom and fear she feels within this place.  It marks a turning point for her where she shifts and begins to see that which is most important to her.
Day eleven
We sent Mr Zippers to you before and today we are sending a boy to keep you company.  His name is Milkdrop as he is a... peculiar pale boy as you will see.  He may be a bit odd but he should be able to help you find the door.

    Please do as he says... if it seems sensible?  Ah now we take risks to test things.
     We don't know how your dog managed to get there, nor the Rabbits for that matter.  They tell me this... process... is new and has a few things to sort out.  We think it would be best for you to stay away from Scruff and the Rabbits as well as anything else you encounter there that we didn't send purposely. 

     I should let you know that we have been sending over things that convert well.  Hmm how to explain.  The Robo insects for example, their nature allows them to be translated... ah it's not important and I really am not sure this is a topic I am allowed to speak about anyway.  This is a very serious matter Kumiko, please find the door soon.

 In letter eleven the Scientypes send over to Kumiko a boy named Milkdrop.  They, and Iktomi, are not terribly confident in sending him, but feel he can help her find the doorway out.  Milkdrop is the introduction of a new character who will have his own story (and build) at a later time.  I don't want to spoil his story so will leave it at that, but in regards to helping Kumiko he was not a good choice and a bit desperate for them.  When Iktomi tries to explain how they send things over that "translate" well he is talking about code that can be converted to code.  So for example Mr Zippers is a Powerpet which is half organic and half machine with programming.  For them it is much easier to recreate something for Kumiko that exists already partially as a programming language.  For them to send over Scruff for example would be impossible as they have no idea how to recreate something so intimate and well known to Kumiko, but to create a Robobee it is relatively simple as it does not possess the same depth to it.  Mr Zippers was the most advanced test they could try and to them was a great achievement fit for the Science journals.

Day twelve
Imogen sewing her pigeon disguise
Kumiko discovers her mothers sewing room
 Dear Iktomi
     I went upstairs today and found myself as I used to be.  I saw myself hiding and fearful in one room and in another it was a different sort of me.  It was my sensual side that I hide, but I could see all the little hooks trying to pull me, control me or expose me.  The pressures from all sides to be this way or that.

     In another room I found my mother's sewing machine and as I turned there behind me was Mr Zippers… but changed horribly.  He was like a caricature of combined toys trying to gain my trust.  He had tried to incorporate a jack in the box from my childhood but also possessed hooks that were tied to his paws.
     He unzipped his mouth and told me the hooks would keep us together and hurt only a moment.  I screamed and suddenly Scruff was there and they fought.  Scruff was unstoppable and tore Mr Zippers into pieces, his parts strewn around the room.
     I don't know what happened to Mr Zippers here, but he became warped and somehow manipulated.

You used to say "I" in your letters Iktomi, yet now you always say "we" but you don't mean me and you.
Who is looking over your shoulder?

The death of Mr Zippers
In letter twelve Kumiko introspectively writes about seeing a weaker version of herself from the other side.  She recognizes the confusing pressures of a Society which perceives her as an object to manipulate and harvest.  Hooks in the form of advertising or expectations which she struggled to understand and conform to.  She discovers the mannequins and sewing machine of her childhood as used by mother Imogen, whose memory also brought them forth to sew her pigeon costume.   As Kumiko turns from this she finds Mr Zippers beside her with his own hooks to bring her back to the exit.  He is still the loyal loving powerpet intent on saving her, but he has slowly degraded.  He is now a monster driven by love for her, a sad lonely creature who has watched Scruff emerge to take Kumiko, his world, from him.  He is the villain in this story to many (since he slaughters people regularly), but really only wants to protect Kumiko and keep her to himself.  As he comes to bind Kumiko to him with the hooks Scruff appears and they fight.  But how can Mr Zippers fight when his eyes never leave Kumiko?  Scruff tears him apart and another string connecting her to the other side is severed.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Singularity of Kumiko letters 7-9

  If you would like to catch up to what I am talking about then the previous posts can be found below.

Day seven
Dear Iktomi:
     Ah you know me so well, yet no I truly wouldn't want to live forever.
You cannot be excited and in love forever.  You cannot be fascinated by someone for eternity.
All must fade to grey with endless time.  If we lived for eternity together Iktomi, then we would eventually part.  We must don't you see?  It would be preordained.

I think eternity is the saddest word.

We all would eventually be alone, broken hearts unwilling to start anew yet lingering in a half-light between life and death embracing neither.

     I went out walking today looking for your door, Mr Zippers at my side.  I feel comfortable here and I harbour a guilt for being pleased at not finding your exit yet.  It is a dark and foreboding place yet it feels a part of me somehow.  I will have a look again tomorrow.

P.S.  I think I saw Scruff far off in the woods searching for me, I called but then he was gone.

To Kumiko the idea of living forever is akin to a joke repeated endlessly until it becomes meaningless and bland, or perhaps a lilac tree forever in bloom, rather than the few weeks in which we cherish its scent.  Eternity, to her, is not a goal to strive for but instead something destructive which would, in its reality rather than mirage, extend existence but dull its vitality.

shadow history
Day eight
Dear Iktomi

Today I explored the basement.
     Do you remember Rabbits?  The Rabbits before the genetic games and manipulations that eventually destroyed them.
     Did you know it was their age old enemy the Fox that inadvertently caused their downfall?  It's true.  You see Foxes suddenly began to die out beyond what was natural for them.   For centuries they would follow a cycle.  One year the Rabbits would be plentiful, and then as a result, for the next few years the Foxes would have lots of Rabbits to eat and they would grow in numbers.  They would then reduce the Rabbit population where eventually it would result in many Foxes starving over the winter.  The death of the Foxes would then allow for a resurgence of Rabbits and so on and so on.
    Well one year the Foxes began to die out quite rapidly.  They blamed it on everything from Wind Turbines to toxins in their environment, though nobody really knew why.  In our wisdom we genetically tinkered with the Rabbit species so that they became even more fertile, yet once they passed their prim mating age they would rapidly gain weight while their right hind leg would wither and twist.  Essentially creating a fat crippled dinner easy for the Fox to catch.

     Everyone clapped themselves on the back, yet the Foxes still died.  To prevent the food chain from collapsing they build a RoboFox to wander around killing Rabbits to keep their numbers down.  If only they stuck to Rabbits as they were programmed to do.
     The fast breeding meaty Rabbit became the darling of the food industry and soon their genes spread far and wide across the world.  Then for reasons still being debated, they became sterile and, within a shockingly short time, the Rabbits were no more.

Today in the basement I found Rabbits.
Real living Rabbits.

There was an illegal gene circus Man/Rabbit hybrid making shadow puppets on the wall while little ones watched.  I sat with them a while and petted a pretty brown one who climbed on my lap.

This land I am lost in is dark... yet magical.

P.S Iktomi why does my Mother not write to me also?

This letter from Kumiko expands a bit more the world from which she lives in.  A world where science has the ability to play God but lacks the foresight to determine what effects tinkering with nature will have upon them.  Its all parallel to us though.  For example in British Columbia, (and many other places in the world, but I will pick on my own Country) we breed farmed Salmon which  creates large, fast maturing aggressive salmon. These genetically similar fish dominate the native wild salmon for food, habitat, and mates.  However, the strength of wild salmon is they have, over a long time, evolved into many genetically distinct types, specially adapted to particular geographic regions. So if the farm bred Salmon escaped from their pens into the ocean then they would out compete the native variety, yet remain genetically inferior but physically dominant.  It is believed they would endanger the long-term survival not only of wild salmon, but also of other genetically related fish such as trout.  So likely we keep these farmed Salmon in ponds deep inland away from water right?  Oh God no! we put them in mesh pens directly in the Ocean and millions have already escaped during violent storms.  How greedy and stupid.  Hmm what else?  Oh the Honeybees are actually disappearing and nobody really knows why.. some think it is a class of pesticide called neonicotinoids which is used for crops, but others believe its a cocktail of pesticides.  For Kumiko she finds herself in a dark world yet finding the Rabbits and the Honeybees to her eclipses the material world that the door with the red exit sign promises to return her to. 
Imogens hospital bed

Day nine
Dear Kumiko
     I fear asking this knowing how stubborn you are, but please stay away from the basement.  I don't know how it is that Rabbits came there, but once something is gone it does not come back Kumiko.  Scruff is dead and the Rabbits are extinct.  To imagine otherwise is not good for you.

     Kumiko your mother can not write you right now as she is unwell.  She was never strong in her mind and body and circumstances have been too much for her and she has...  withdrawn.  Imogen loves you very much Kumiko, but she needs you to come back, we need you to come home.
Love Iktomi

In the letter by Iktomi we see his concern for the appearance of things such as the Rabbits and Scruff, rather than the planned ones such as Mr Zippers whose appearance they seem to control.  He also, for the first time, says her mothers name.  Imogen.  It is at this point that we realize Kumiko is Imogens daughter and this story is a prequel.  It now also illuminates who the child was that was delivered to Imogen from the whale (on the cover of Kumikos book which Imogen kept to remember her by)  at the end of the story Imogen and the pigeons.  The question is now, which is right?  Kumikos view on not altering ones memories? or do we look at Imogen and how she edited her own memories and events as stored in the machine, overcoming them to bring back her lost daughter Kumiko and the great joy that brought her. The chance to begin again with her priceless daughter whose loss ushered her into the asylum.  The ironic twist that the editing of memories which Kumiko rejects is the thing which brings love and joy to her mother.  Now we wonder how Kumiko was lost and where she now resides.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Singularity of Kumiko letters 4-6

 If you would like to catch up to what I am talking about then the previous posts can be found below.

 The exploration of the Singularity of Kumiko is not linear.  You walk the dark forest in whichever direction you desire, finding letters out of order and piecing together the narrative often by putting the letters together towards the end.  Past the beehives we can see a strange machine in the dark, all slowly revolving lights, as you walk towards it your headlamp suddenly flickers and dies leaving you in the pitch black forest.  Just the sound of crickets and, if you are unlucky, the squeaking of a wheel in the darkness.   Walking towards the revolving lights you find a letter from Iktomi.
Day four
Dear Kumiko:

     I remember how we would sit under the blankets and discuss concepts and technology.  Morals and Religion.  We would lay in the dark, fingers entwined, and talk for hours.
     I always wanted to ask you though.  Would you use memory encryption, like what is offered by that company Rebirth?  You know it's been on the news and net shows.  I know, since the Singularity so many amazing inventions are now just blips in the media and forgotten so soon.  But this, well this is essentially immortality Kumiko.  They have learned how to record your life and then convert that data onto a machine.  They say they will soon be able to install those digital memories onto our vat grown organ banks, and upon our death we can start anew or rather… continue.  What this means Kumi is that we can now be immortal like the gods in those fairy tales people used to follow.
     I know you would.  We all would of course, but please humour me and write back saying you would and then tell me why?  I want to talk like we used to.

Imagine we are under the blankets once again.

Iktomi brings up the company Rebirth and its life encryption technology.  He encourages Kumiko to write back to him saying she would have her memories recorded, but we see in the response from Kumiko that she is not easily led.

Day five

Dear Iktomi,
     It is unlike you to attempt to lead me into a response.  You assume I would naturally seek immortality with life encryption.  I wouldn't.  You see each moment is special simply because it is finite.  A kiss, a laugh or a sweet moment of melancholy.  They come and fleetingly we live in that moment.  Then they pass only to return as a memory. 
     It is why we cherish those times and commit them to memory for us to retrieve when we need them.  Immortality would destroy that immediacy and dull all emotions.  We need death to make life precious the same way we need sorrow in order to allow happiness to exist.
      A memory is ethereal, untouchable.  If we converted a memory into digital 1's and 0's or some other form of language, then it would only be a matter of time before we began to manipulate it.  We would cut out our sorrows and manufacture outcomes in order to create a shiny surface to our lives with nothing of substance behind them.  A mockery of what it is to live.
Love Kumiko

In Kumikos response she predicts that people would soon begin to alter their memories should they be saved in an editable format such as a computer language.  Perhaps it would begin with the editing out the prolonged death of a loved one though disease.  Maybe psychologists would even prescribe certain mind cleansing for ones mental health.  Others might then like to remove the heartbreak of a broken relationship or there could be a joint effort undertaken to forget an infidelity that plagues a couples relationship.  Eventually some might like to remove the inconvenience of flight delays during an otherwise wonderful vacation.  The world would change into one where everyone had their own reality that might drastically differ from those around them.  Then of course, if it is possible to delete events then it would also be possible to write new ones.  A man who fearfully stood watching, immobile, as another man slaps his girlfriend publicly on the subway can now go home and edit themselves into the hero role.  "Get away from her you bastard!" he now says quietly Keanu Reeves style... no edit that.. Clint Eastwood style.  A flurry of Bruce Lee kicks and punches to a cheering crowd and a warm kiss afterwords.  Yeah that's better.  Kumiko feels that life, and all the experiences both good and bad that come with it, are essential.

Day six
Dear Kumiko:
Ah you are so stubborn.  I knew I shouldn't have tried to lead you to a conclusion.  However, might you have said that you would let your life be recorded had I not so clumsily tried to push you that way?  Tell me the truth my dear.
     I have to change the topic.  I need you to do something for me.  I need you to look for a door with a red exit sign above it.  I don't know where it will be, but please find it and walk through.  Your mother and I are on the other side waiting for you.  Please come back to us.
Love Iktomi

Iktomi is persistent in trying to get Kumiko to admit that she would let her memory be recorded, but he now moves on to something different, a serious tone.  He tells Kumiko to find the door out of her strange world of memories.  A psychological symbol for a desire to leave.  The universal red exit sign which we have all seen from movie theatre to apartment building.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Singularity of Kumiko letters 1-3

If you would like to catch up to what I am talking about then the previous posts can be found below.

In entering the Singularity of Kumiko the visitor is greeted by a chorus of crickets and ciccada.  Walking through the trees to a lit area reveals a scene of a car accident.  There is the sound of the crickets but in between is a deep silence.  You can almost imagine the squeal of tires and the crash of the bike falling.  The frantic driver pacing and mumbling or weeping.. but that is just an echo now.  From chaos to silence in five minutes? an hour?

By examining the backpack on the ground we find a few hints here and there.  For those who experienced the previous work, Imogen and the pigeons, they will
recognize the book on whales, the feather and the pen and ink storybook.  Not far away is a bottle with a message inside.

Day one

Iktomi are you the one who sends me messages by bottle?

Bottles that unerringly find their way across the ocean to my shores?

     It is an island that I reside on, I am certain, for I have
walked its edge so many times.  Much like the perpetual dark of this place my memories also resist illumination.

Where I am and what happened to me are mysteries.  I walk the island and it feels like a memory box fallen from the shelf, its contents strewn across the floor.  Everything is familiar yet somehow indistinct and rearranged.  It is almost as though I am being reassured from a distance by forgotten keepsakes.

 These are messages that Kumiko writes herself and releases to the water surrounding her island.  The messages seem to reach her love Iktomi and over time she discovers responses, on USB sticks,  by him, washed up at various places for her to find.

     We look around and know not where to go.  It is all darkness in the woods yet we see just off the road a bit what appears to be, upon getting closer,  stacks of honey bee hives.  All empty except for a few machine wasps, a child's drawing with a some dead bees upon it, and another bottle with a USB inside.  Clicking on a wasp brings up a machinima poem called Format whose question is one I have pondered for a while now.  In the bottle we find a message from Iktomi.

Day two

Dear Kumiko

I know how disorienting this all must be for you.

    I wish, beyond anything, that I could be there now to explain, but they tell me I cannot and must not.

I do, however, have a surprise for you.
                                                                   Do you remember little Mr Zippers?  Your Power Pet?  Of course you do.  Well right now he is making his way there to keep you company.  I remember how protective he always was of you while you were growing up, and then once the Love program was installed on him ... well you were inseparable and I was surprisingly jealous.  I hope he will keep you happy and safe until you return to us.

P.S. Your mother sends her love.

     As with all my virtual artwork the story is drawn from elements of my own life.  I find the process of building anonymously in a virtual world as cathartic, freeing, and I feel it is important to put myself into each thing I create as, I believe, its honesty is felt by those who witness it.  I am relating something you understand which can be felt, by some, emotionally on a different level than something otherwise fabricated.  For example, Scruff really was my dog and its true the way I described in the letter below how I found him, and the plastic bag shroud.  Bringing him back to me in this virtual world was quite emotional as you can imagine.  It is strange, and perhaps silly but sitting by him in my avatar is somehow comforting.  Oh I know he is just pixels in the shape of my dead dog, but then a photo is just pigments.  For me Scruff is fractionally more alive today than he was a few months ago before he existed here, and hopefully less alive to me now than he will be in my heart tomorrow.

Day three
Mr Zippers
Dear Iktomi:
I found your technological flotsam and jetsam in the form of a USB memory stick today.  No sooner had I read it then I found Mr Zippers pressed to my leg searching out my gaze.  He is the same... yet different here somehow, just as everything is I guess.
     I remember as a child when my organic dog died.  His name was Scruff and he was curled up, as though just asleep, on the floor of my bedroom.  I remember poking him with my toe to wake him up so we could go play outside.  I remember how hard he felt when I touched him. 

Later my father put him in a black plastic bag and we buried him in the woods where I had found an old bottle once.  He was my best friend.
One day father brought home Slinks newest invention.  A PowerPet.  It was half organic and half machine.  I screamed and cried at the insult.  Scruff could never be replaced by a machine I declared.  My mother was so worried, she convinced my father to buy the new Love upgrade even though we couldn't afford it.  You see the Scientypes said they had isolated the emotion love and were able to code it for a PowerPet.

Was it love?  

Or perhaps just a clever program approximating it.  I am not certain, but I did grow to love Mr Zippers, and part of me was always a bit ashamed for it.