A man stands in a room waving his hands, artfully guiding the movements of gigantic machines on Mars. Three days ago, they switched on, churning up the red iron-rich soil atop a carefully chosen seam of permafrost. On a six minute lag, the machines translate his motions into building unreal works of architecture, built for no one and only viewed from remote camera, on the ground and orbiting hundreds of miles overhead.
In a week, when the story breaks and the world has seen the walls and plazas and walkways rising from the alien desert, he’s built a sprawling city that is equal parts Las Vegas and ancient Babylon.
Again, I ask you to consider the Sci-Fi Now possibilities of linking embryonic technologies to express both the creativity and the darkness in the human soul. With a bounty, they’ve cracked the Kinect and people like the gentleman above are already drawing in air, creating and manipulating 3-D space. What happens when we re-translate those motions back into the physical? When the stroke of the hand through air is replicated by the machine arm? Or draws a structure that an extruder then pours onto the earth in quick-set concrete? The mania our species shows for creating monuments is coming to the individual, along with the carbon, scrap and waste that comes with such an activity.
The supervillian of the future will have his Kinect hooked to Structure Synth, feeding into UAV construction equipment, writing his symphony upon the earth in the shape of algorithmically generated strip malls, linked in chains that choke the shattered landscape. Or, as I recall the view from the plane’s window as I flew into Chicago-Midway, did that already happen?