AS we are about to discuss parapoetics in our Reading and Thinging group at FACT, I decided to make an experimental machine in order to experience its language (I probably shouldn’t use that word). It is an inelegant thing put together while its various elements were powered up. This included (apart from myself) three competing (co-operating?) motors and a series of easily tangled arms and wires. The process meant that the machine itself had an amount of influence over its final makeup.
Working with the machine, it has a proximity sensor which reacts to my presence I realised that although I detect its language through my senses (primarily sight, sound, touch and even smell) it expresses via movement.
List of the signs of mechanical function and breakdown during my interaction with Machine 15
High pitch whining
Metal – over powered motor
Machine 14 teeters on the brink. Under the light it twitches very slightly with each inhalation of air. The air is drawn in by a simple pulsing fan mechanism which is in turn activated by a small board of electronics attached to a phone charger. The electronic board is damaged and no longer functions as it once did. Now it can only emit a small charge of electricity at more or less regular intervals. For me the scene is medical, recalling memories of a baby in an incubator. The ‘baby’ is an earwax remover.
This week, the graphics card on my laptop failed, it is now unusable except as a generator of anxiety inducing patterns. My car does not start, a situation which I cannot but take in the personal way. In addition to this there is a small leak in the roof of my house causing water to sluice down one of the walls. One of my hard drives has failed and, until I have a working computer I cannot tell if I have lost much work. Annabel fainted in a shop and I have a tight pain in my chest.
This machine is, I suppose, machinic as it is made through the interaction of smaller machines which interrupt each other’s flow. It was made while trying to learn Cat’s Cradle for a new reading and thinging group at FACTlab. As my arthritic thumbs were shouting at me, I toyed with the idea of coming up with a sort of cat’s cradle machine. But this was a far too complicated process.
Still, even this simple machine seems to show aspects of the emergent behaviour suggested by Marvin Minsky’s concept of the mind as a community of competing agents.