The materials assigned for Week Two deal with human control
The film "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control" demonstrates
four levels of control humans have over nature. The simplest comes in
the form of the gardener, who trims plants so they look like animals.
He is very similar to a sculptor in the sense that he has a shape he
is trying to elicit from his material. However, in this case, the material
itself is alive. He is manipulating the way this lifeform grows and
lives in order to make it look like what he wants. However, because
plants are generally seen as the lowest form of life (one step above
rocks, according to Aristotle), not much control is required by the
The second level is the biologist, who studies naked
mole rats, which behave like insects. He finds that he can manipulate
the animals, and determine, for example, where the nest is going to
be, and where the toilet is going to be, and use this to design an exhibit
in a zoo. This is a higher level of control, because he is manipulating
the nature of these animals for his own purposes. However, he is not
actually changing their nature.
The next level is the lion tamer, who actually gets the
animals to do exactly what he wants (most of the time). It is a dangerous
game, because they have their own sense of what they want to do, and
he must constantly be on guard. He controls exactly where they go and
what they do - one of the highest levels of control possible on an individual
Finally, the robotics researcher has the ultimate control.
He is designing robots from the ground up, and every aspect of the robot
is under his control. He is trying to simulate nature within his context,
but if he succeeds, he will be able to "tinker" with the results, and
possibly improve on what exists already.
GFP Bunny - this is about manipulating a lifeform
(in this case, a rabbit) as art. Kac calls this Transgenic art. This raises
many obvious questions about our ability to interfere with normal progression
of life. In this case, the interference is genetic, which is the basic
building block of life.
Simon G. Penny's TRACE project tries to create an
environment that allows a person to kinesthetically interact with the
environment, making it more realistic. In this case, control is being
exerted on the environment, not the individual in the environment.
The Home of the Brain website aims to empower the
user by allowing him/her to acquire "a new way of perception". The virtual
world gives the user "artificial eyes and hands", allowing him/her to
interact with their world in a way that is not possible in the real
world. The upshot is that the virtual world is very limited in that
it must be designed by humans - it does not imply any additional "powers"
in the real world.