The following text is an excerpt from a short story written to loosely correspond with the final design for the Master’s Thesis presentation at Pratt Institute. The entirety of the text can be found here: 002_narrative
Turning to one of the suspended screens, Sofie asked pointedly, “Bill, when you were last in the labs, did it at all show signs of failure?” She leaned slightly to the left and tapped her finger upon her slight cheekbone, lost in some internal thought process, clearly not listening to the forthcoming response.
“No, ma’am. Not in the slightest. I was surveying the progress in Lab 607.A and it seemed under control and regimented as always. Their hourly reports also reflected zero inconsistencies. Everything was perfect.” Bill continued to rattle off the statistics of Lab 607.A’s perfection at length. Eli focused with difficulty and found himself surprisingly eager to wander through the condemned depths of this recently toxic site. It had been a mere month since the new research headquarters had opened at 59th and 5th to an almost ludicrously loud largesse, and it had met this wondrous opening with an equally grand and magnificent collapse. The fanfare had been showered on the triumph of a million brilliant minds that had come together in the harmony of scientific perfection; its future seemed as promising as the advertising campaigns had promised. This single edifice was to be the shining, shimmering beacon of the instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent world to come. It had been meticulously worked and re-worked, poured over for years by the scientists, analysts, engineers and information architects of the IBM Corporation. Humankind was on the verge of witnessing the bright and glittering daybreak of a terrifyingly intelligent planet. Little did IBM know, its masterpiece was about to fall headlong into the shadow that daybreak inevitably brings.
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock.)
The masterpiece consisted of forty stories of intelligent opaque glass – a crystalline research and development facility so advanced the entirety of its interior was held to the unprecedented clean room laboratory standards. In order to achieve the ideal interior lab environment, each floor had been outfitted with an entry decontamination chamber that served as the transition between the public parking deck and the lab spaces themselves. The building’s immense mechanical service core was isolated from the laboratories within the parking deck to ensure the perfect and unadulterated operation of the rest of the facility. The heart serving – but not influencing – the brain. But the true soul of the building came from its instrumentation – the devices that would count the sheep of the dormant machine. In a glorious symphony of input and output relays generated by an unfathomable amount of sensors, the building was able to read every minute action of each system and occupant to a degree never previously possible. A faint blue wave swept over instruments, faucets, tensed shoulder blades, and nimble fingers reading and calculating radiated heat, wasted chemicals, and completed tasks. The entirety of this information was registered, parsed, and analyzed in a database so immense it could only be contained in a massive server farm far below the surface – data as the frigid foundation of the future. IBM had intended this facility to be the symbolic head in the quest for complete knowledge in every possible sense, and its digestion of the world into mere data was the lynchpin of it all. No stone left unturned. No shadow left unlit.
Looking into the heart of light, the silence,
And yet, the utter desolation it had wrought upon itself had been so complete and complex, the EPA had no choice but to immediately render the entire block a Superfund site and delay its demolition until the responsible party had undertaken a full retrospective evaluation. From the brief reports that were successfully uploaded prior to and during failure, advanced analysts were able to witness the internal intelligence of the design operating its absolute highest capacity. It was here, at the height of its success and at the absolute optimum levels of operation, that its inevitable failure made itself known. While the IBM Advanced Research Facility was functioning at its highest possible capacity, it was also unwittingly creating its most perfect disaster. Those exact functions that kept the clean rooms clean, the data feeds efficient, the water pure, were simultaneously creating a serious of environments that should have never come into being. The loop was closed, the system was as internalized as it could possibly have been. And yet it seemed, from preliminary reports, that those systems there were employed to keep the place alive were exactly the systems that caused its untimely death. How this was at all possible, was still in question. Enter, stage right, the International Business Machine Corporation and its lowly and voluntary servant, one Eli Warring – who sat chewing his soft nails and bouncing his knobby knees in apprehension of documenting the disaster that lay before him in its manifestly glorious ruin.
Breeding lilacs out of dead land,