DEEP TIME INDUSTRIES: the Law of Prochronism, future Paleontology and the unforeseen effects of planned and in-built obsolescence




In 2013, just before Occupy Gezi started in Istanbul, I went visiting the technical Rahmi M Koç Museum with a friend from Centrul de Calcul, and I was profoundly impressed by a series of fairly classical glass display boxes and the artifacts contained therein, just near the entry hall.


At that time I was not sure if the local museum staff, the collaborating philosophers of science and technology, or maybe the exhibition curators were really thinking about the paleontological repercussions of their own displays. Maybe not. No matter, forcing the conclusions into a new mould, I tried to use that visit as an invitation to think about the unintended production of deep time, of the non-naive manufacture of ancestrality in an accumulating effort to ascertain a deep future as well as a deep past.


I started thinking that those were clearly the displays every technical Museum should start with in the distant future - with concrete speculative experiments about the afterlife of technology, of decaying and forgotten industries.  

 
We are not talking here about an end, but about a sort of pre-recorded, pre-inscribed, and a definitely non-spectacular, consumatio mundi as an educational tool and metaphysical solace: the pertinent and tangible artifacts of a world coating itself up. A world producing its own growth rings and index fossils. The reconstructed Bosphorus seabed display exhibited a collection of contemporary objects dredged from the murky depths, the usual junk that ends up flushed into and is slowly accumulating in the world oceans.


All this was recovered after being intentionally or unintentionally dumped, or it ended up on the seabed, and then was exhibited right at the entrance to the technical museum. A bewildering gathering of encrusted commodities and home appliances such as flip-flops, Cola bottles, Sony Walkmans, glasses, loudspeakers, tape recorders, electrical sockets, vacuum cleaners, self-retracting tape measures, numerous plastic items, thermos cans, credit cards and wallets were all partially fossilized and covered by seabed dwellers such as oysters, tube-building polychaete worms and colonial barnacles.

If we leave aside its initial pedagogical and ecological impulse, these displays were unwittingly recording how industrial civilization, commodity fetishism and a feverish prosumer activity is enabling the rapid fossilization of the now, and constitutes a sort of immediate paleontological horizon of the future present.
 
Within these limited, glass-encased rectangles we will discover how planned obsolescence is conspiring with ancestrality, how the production and invention of a remote past is making itself felt at the level of these objects that have fallen into the abyss. In a very devious and unintended manner, planned and in-built obsolescence will influence our perception of the role of fossils, and how future paleontology will become part of an extended dumpster diving practice. What is slowly emerging is an unlikely alliance of time forging enthusiasts that group together as fossil manufacturers of all sorts: artists interested in future paleontology, poetic technology fans, animatronics workers and designers in dinosaur parks, inventors of lost civilizations, and archaeologists of theme parks and lost movie sets.         

The cheap consumer goods of the present can easily be covered with crusty mineral deposits, a first level of fossilization, an ongoing biochemical process that insures their partial and rapid fossilization after being conquered by ‘benthos’: the bottom line of a deposited reality made by plants and animals living on, and in, the abyss.       


I think that planned and in-built obsolescence is already doing the work of the demiurge entity Philip Gosse was talking about in his monumental and monstrous book Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot written in 1857. A book reviled by both contemporary theologians and geologists, even as it was meant to pacify both evolutionists and biblical literalists.  Jorge Louis Borges was the first to rediscover Omphalos in a short text entitled The Creation and H. P. Gosse, and to reassess its forgotten thesis as an involuntary and elegant reduction of ex-nihilo creation to absurdity. Biologist Stephen Jay Gould also rediscovered the Omphalos hypothesis in his Adam's Navel article, as a perfect example of the untestable, as it cannot differentiate between fossils as prochronic data, or as examples of an extended and uninterrupted history.

Well let’s consider this book to be relevant in another way, not so much for exposing the fallacies of creationist thinking or faulty epistemology, but for introducing us to the practicalities and open possibility of forging and promoting ancestrality.  

In short Philip Gosse’s Omphalos thesis is about a universe being built so as to have the appearance of old age, when in fact it is a recent contraption for concentrating and condensing amounts of time in a very short space of time. In the end we are left with a demiurge that is, in the eyes of one of its early reviewers, nothing but a Deus quidam deceptor ‘God who is [not only] sometimes a deceiver’ (Rev. Charles Kingsley) but most of the time is a cosmic liar and fabricator of innumerable fossils proofs, of both organic and inorganic origin: artifacts, numerous objects, rivers, celestial bodies, even the scars on a Pandanus palm trunk, all intricate hoaxes that pretend to have a past, mimicking their own way through ancestrality as part of a grandiose troubleshooting test. This whole book is an immense and detailed illustration of what Gosse calls the Law of Prochronism in Creation trying, for example, to demonstrate how even the great antiquity of coprolites, fossil faecal remains of ancient animals, are just elaborate temporal fakes, pre-implanted there by the cunning universal creator (Conclusions, 335-372) so as to present a false but perfect proof of a previous meal.

Now we can see how Gosse's monumental contribution here is to have shown cosmogony as an immense act of prochronic deception, and how this would work out: how history may become, soon enough, an elaborate set-up of deep temporal succession, easily forge-able with enough in-built obsolescence at your disposal.

While the human-machine excavation and extraction is churning and atomizing the planet’s surface, further jumbling up an imperfect fossil record, and reshuffling and re-arranging a constantly shifting stratigraphy, Dinomania has itself been a motor for remaking the past and shadowing paleontology's biggest success.

 
In 2012 and 2013 itinerant animatronic dinosaur XXL shows have been taking European cities by storm. Early in 2013, Australian billionaire and coal mining magnate Clive Palmer ordered 165 life- sized dinosaurs directly from China for his Palmer Coolum Resort. This will become the world's largest dinosaur exhibit. Ancient life isn't ferocious on its own, in its monumental reptilian forms and shapes, it also needs the crushing power of numbers and quantified data. The mechanical 20 meter high dinosaur (actually a crocodilian) Deinosuchus, while undergoing construction in China, is already being advertised and promoted as having a bite force of 18,000 newtons.


The mechanical wonder of animatronic dinosaurs resides not so much in their swaying tails, blinking eyes and heaving chests, but in the big data of their monumental size and titanic weight. They can be regarded as a new branch of monumental art, even though dinosaur sculptures have been populating parks and museum courtyards since the Victorian age.




To date, the dinosaur park has already received over 200 objections from locals about noise pollution and parking, and one can follow the money-flow of making billions out of polluting carbon emissions that afterwards gets reinvested into huge, animatronic living fossils. The XXL shows are really the ultimate exhibition on offer, chiming with the new winner-takes-all competitive battles raging between cities and regions for hosting the Olympics or being chosen as the next European Cultural Capital (Andrew Ross, 2009). 

    
Almost in line with Barnum, the travelling dinosaur-tainment seems to follow a current trend in mega-events, fusing, without much ado, economics with past evolutionary grandeur. Even if W. J. T. Mitchell (Mitchell, 1998) has been pointing to the temporal and transitional character of dinosaurs as cultural symbols in his The Last Dinosaur Book: The Life and Times of a Cultural Icon, there seems to be a permanent and rising demand for better and more realistic dinosaur robotics. In the bid for monumental gains, not only zoos and natural history museums are catering for the pre-schooler tastes in info-dino-tainment, shopping malls also want a piece of the action, although German visitors have been complaining about the poor design and scant information offered. The German engineer Caro Neigert, the man behind one of these traveling dino shows, complains about the transport difficulties when carrying such huge loads, and the fact that it only pays to visit big cities.


China has also been gearing up for a growing paleo-market with the city of Zigong in Sichuan Province being one of the centers for both dino-tourism based on the fossil-rich Dashanpu rock formation, as well as for factories producing paleo-life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, robotic animals, skeleton & fossil replicas, theme park dino rides, fiberglass statues and playground equipment. Zigong Dinosaurs World Science & Technology Co. Ltd is one such contemporary manufacturer of ancestrality, with customers in the Czech Republic, the UK, Italy, Poland, Spain, Denmark, the Ukraine, Venezuela and the US. Engineering and art skills derived from both the heavy machinery of the industrial age and the sculptural monumentalism of propaganda are being fused together by combining various casting and sculpting techniques, using special resins, latex and paint-brushing.
     

We've been getting used to an air of industrial extinction blowing around heavy tractors, industrial complexes, co-operative farms and giant construction machinery. And it's no irony that the animatronic branch of robotics, powered by pneumatics and hydraulics, has been responsible in the post-Fordist era for re-animating ancient giant beings and reconstructing extinct biomes.


The whole planet seems to be strewn with the carcasses of extinct heavy industrialism, the humongous remains of planned economies and abandoned research and development programs. The whole industrial graveyard of the world factory isn't just a result of the lack of fit-for-purpose value, the lack of competitive edge, or the end of history, it is a constructed prochronistic landscape: technology and architecture are being recast as prehistoric, as obsolete, as something that had to become extinct, derelict and broken down. 

 
Another interpretation is made available to us through the works of Swedish artist and designer Simon Stålenhag. Stålenhag’s style has been influenced by both local artists specializing in landscape and animal art, like Gunnar Brusewitz and Lars Johnsson, as well as by the conceptual sci-fi works of Syd Mead and Ralph McQuarrie.


Nevertheless, I think that his alternative universe speaks volumes about our current no-other-alternative present, about the accelerated decay and imposed obsolescence that has been marshaled by exposure to market forces, and the rise of corporate and managerial bureaucracies. Stålenhag's works act not just as elegant metaphors for a slowly crumbling Scandinavian welfare system (one of the best in the world), but also as over-determined examples of expected Big Government failure.   

 
If the looming remains of large-scale robotization and mechanization seem to share quietly and peaceably the same pastoral countryside landscape with living dinosaurs, as part of the same unfinished extinction-level event, how does this affect our visions and dreams of imminent progress?

David Graeber was one of those writing about a current regressive shift in science & technology as a catastrophic movement from 'poetic technologies' to 'bureaucratic technologies' which would explain why most of the futuristic prophecies of the last 50 or 60 years have failed to bear the promised fruit. Just think of anti-gravitational technology, teleportation, widespread household and agricultural robotics, no more pandemics, not to mention viable colonies on Mars and that eternal promise of 'the end of labor'. In his article Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit Graeber challenges capitalism as a form of triumphalist, linear progressivism, and tries to look behind the New Economy rhetoric of unfettered technological innovation and unabashed economic efficiency.


Simon Stålenhag's hover harvesters are maybe there in the field in order to make us understand how the 'future' of big (dino) science projects, as well as blue sky research, is being recast into a never-never land, a complete no-go zone for investment or research. This future is being discredited not only by relegating it to the past, but also by deriding its collective dreaming power and daring predictions, even if the answer to this should not be a hymn to smokestack industries, or a return to productivist extravaganza and the liberty to pollute.

For both behemoths of the Cold War Era there was more than a sense of saurian modernist gigantism at work in both their dreams and nightmares, especially in the heyday of the space race and also in the realm of non-scarcity and agro-technology. There was a troubling cult of big numbers, an appetite for Guinness Book of Records statistics and pumped-up figures. This required oversizing is reflected by engineering over-production, ending up in a contest to select only gigantic ultra-pumped legumes, fruits or seeds, so that nowadays containerization and 'cold chain' distribution is changing the way legumes taste, smell, look and withstand the effects of their intercontinental journeys. In a big reversal from previous lofty ideals, wherever we look today's technological upsurge and scientific bravado seems to be generally geared towards just improving apps, controlling war drones, reverse-engineering the climate catastrophe, or subsuming quantum physics into high-frequency trading. 

Thus, the place of mecha's in disrepair, of this abandoned robotic agro-technology; of farming droids and homesteading mobile suits is right here around us, on the roadside, near picket fences, the forest border zone, grassland and all those environmental features that make these advances seem usual, normal and even oddly at home, be it in the Swedish landscape or in post-industrial ex-Soviet spaces.
 
The great Baikonur 'cosmodrom' launching pad, the size of Belgium, or what has been called jokingly and endearingly 'the (Soviet) Unions trampoline to space' is planted exactly in the middle of a semi-dessert. Its huge, space-age scaffolding and almost steampunk technologies lie deeply embedded in the local landscape, and among the giant space rockets we can often see herds of Bactrian camels grazing all around. Here lies the recognition that the ground zero of sci-fi cosmic visions and technological progress has a very material basis and terrestrial location. In one sense, the industrial construction technology that made monumental architecture possible was hidden out of sight, never left to stay, continue building, or even rot in its final resting place.

A pointed case, in this regard, is the premature burial of most of the construction machinery under the ground, just before the opening of the unfinished Casa Poporului in Bucharest, Romania or Ceausescu's Palace as it was called, hailed the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon.
     
 
Whether you call them Cosmic Communist Constructions (Frederic Chabin) or Trespassing Modernities of Post-Stalinist Soviet Architecture (a show at Salt Galata, Istanbul) or just Forget Your Past-monumentalism, (Nikola Mihov, 2009-2012), one is accumulating remarkable examples of prochronic production. In a very short time period, the mountain top Memorial House of the Bulgarian Communist Party has not only been described as an alien spaceship stranded far from its home planet, but as the gigantic remains of an unintelligible past, remains that need the same sort of piecing together as the old Mayan city-states of Calakmul or Tikal.


By encouraging and fomenting their putrescence, the architectural and monumental remains of socialist civilization have been transformed into something akin to a lost and buried civilization whose hieroglyphic past and devotional representations are now groomed for a mostly theme park existence.
Theme-parking paleontology or theme-parking lost civilizations is an old task, now part of a cycle of premature burial and archaeological prochronic rediscovery itself.


Hollywood has been busy sinking its own sets and rediscovering them, as in the City of the Pharaohs, one of the largest movie sets ever built that was dug up again in 1982 and transformed into an archaeological attraction. This pseudo-city, an American version of an ancient Potemkin village, had walls that rose 110 feet high and sprawled 750 feet in width, and was flanked by 21 sphinxes and four 35 foot Pharaoh statues. Cecil B. DeMille filmed the silent movie The Ten Commandments here in 1923.


And in the prophetic words of Jarell Jackman, executive director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historical Preservation, more is to come, as ‘some archeologist may be uncovering Disneyland 500 years from now’.  
n.b.

 


References:

Philip Henry Gosse, Omphalos: An attempt to Untie the Geological Knot, London, 1857
Stephen Jay Gould, The Flamingo's Smile. Penguin Books, 1987
Borges, Jorge Louis, The Creation and P H Gosse, Other inquisitions, 1937-1952, 1962
Megan Mackander, Fears Coolum dinosarus will send area back to ice age,  (last accessed October 2013)
W J T Mitchell, The Last Dinosaur Book: The Life and Times of a Cultural Icon, University of Chicago  Press, 1998
Andrew Osborne, Ancestrality and The Problem of the Arche-fossil, June 2009.  (last accessed October 2013)
I <3 Brukenthal: the first open air dinosaur show, Sibiu (accesed October 2013)
Zigong Dinosaurs World Science & Technology Co., Ltd, (accessed October 2013)
Andrew Ross, Nice Work if you can get it: life and labor in precarious times, New York University Press, 2009
Simon Stålenhag http://www.simonstalenhag.se/about.html (accessed October 2013)
David Graeber, Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit, The Baffler No. 19, 2012. Cambridge, Massachusetts
At the Cosmodrom and the Center for Coordination and Computing: before and after Zero Seconds, Science and Technology, No 7 year XVI, second series. July 1962.
Engineer R Tudor, Giants of the Field, Science and Technology, No 7 year XVI, second series, July 1962.
Frederic Chaubin, Cosmic Communism Constructions Photographed: a photographnic record of 90 weird and wonderful buildings from the last decades of the USSR, Taschen 2011
Christopher Reynolds, An Archeology Spectacular: Unearthing the Set of DeMille's 1923 ' Ten Commandments', Los Angeles Times November 20, 1990, http://articles.latimes.com/1990-11-20/entertainment/ca-5155_1_peter-brosnan (last accessed October 2013)
Jody Duncan und Jeanine Pourroy, Dschungel Stadt, CONGO: der Film, aus dem Amerikanischen von Michael Kubiak, Knaur 1995
Rahmi M. Koc Technical Museum, Hasköy Cad. No: 5 Istanbul/Turkey http://www.rmk-museum.org.tr/english/

SHIPWRECK ORGANIZATIONAL THEORY: post-anthropocenic research into After Earth Corporations, Deepartments, Data Recovery Foundations and CO2missions - a foray into monstrous (big) data sets of extinct (submerged) para-institutions







Recently, psychogeography has been used as a research method for business to expand the perspective on how organizations are experienced (Knowles, 2009). There is real concern about an 'emptied-out' psychogeography becoming just another integrative psychometric tool used for deep core qualitative data mining, a triangulation that could possibly mind-meld together, not only the exterior of business, ‘just its bricks and mortar', but entire semiotic and phenomenological data plate tectonics into new complex stratigraphic organizational charts. The final fusion of uniting streams of conscious and unconscious, horizontal and vertical, directed and non-directed, teleological and non-teleological organizations seems to draw near. Organizational theorists are also mining a vast array of geographic, historic and cultural spaces, scanning for managerial control practices BCE ‘Before the Christian Era' (Rindova and Starbuck, 1997).

The initial Situationist strategic appeal to understand the forces shaping the megacity, understand 'the circuits of capitalist valorization' and accumulation and the ultimate need to devise points of intervention and sabotage within it, was somehow lost and hollowed out (Shukaitis, 2013).

I am aware of another way in which such a psychogeography might go astray, since such research lives and travels at a particularly quantified slow pace, literally at walking pace, predicated upon distinctive and present day researchers, or those city dwellers of recent history - the stroller, the walker or even the stalker (Sinclair, 1997) - that are not only all mostly pedestrian male men, but unmistakably bipedal primates.

How can we expand and surpass this psychogeography? How can psychogeography, as a practice of drifting, become time travel-drifting, 'scale jumping', and break not only with the formulaic everyday confines of daily life, but help unleash the submerged patterns and geologic dynamics that invisibly shape the stratigraphic corrosion and composition of the future. 
 
This said, maybe any ‘Organizational Histomap or Psychomap' of the present is bound to crash headlong into unlikely prototypes - especially the ambitious, gigantic, whimsical (and eurocentric) infocharts of John B Sparks: The (1932) Histomap: Four Thousand Years of World, Histomap of Religion and Histomap of Evolution. Thus, these future Organizational Histomaps would end up struggling to compress on a single surface, thousands and thousands of years: the rise and fall of firms; the steady march of corporations; their being swallowed up, divided, colliding, ebbing back up again, surviving financial crises, titanic takeovers, galactic bailouts and massive mergers. Next, a geological scale, a-human, organizational theory has to finally decouple from the slow walking pace of present organizational psychogeography, one that doesn't allow us to anticipate or welcome the fossilized monumental carcass of future engulfed Departments, ruined Foundations and After Earth Co2missions. Only then will we able to adopt a deep-time perspective of organizational theory. One that would chrono-accelerate the pace of current trends or brutally decelerate the future in order to assess its subtly accumulating and insinuating geo-effects.
Because future and present Co2missions and para-InstitU235tions (solidified forms of power) are, and will be, responsible for changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere, the earth's crust, by constantly weaponizing periodic chart substances, they should be regarded now as geo-biochemical forces of the age of mankind. 



In the after-human world they not only influence the geography and topography, but also show themselves as stratigraphic, geological features of the landscape - canyons of building blocks, highway valleys, boulevard cascades, museum and librarian caverns and grottos. 



Not merely smashed and collapsed, like the former antique towns of Sumer, they are now an integral and constitutive part of surrounding lunar and (for us time drifters) deeply unfamiliar landscapes. So, present and future organizations shall compose the Anthropocene/Post-Anthropocene boundary dust, pulverized and transformed into substrata dustology, constituting the very earth beneath our feet. But let's not forget it is not just the 'bricks and mortar' of organizations that we are looking after, but also their long cognitive imprint, their ruinous subconscious, nested architectures, and finally, the continuous succession of their mutated, amorphous life cycles, regularly moulting and casting off their institutional shells.

This is a search for the institutional life-cycles and organizational fossils after an extinction-level event. As such, an incipient and essentially incomplete survey of always surprising and unsuspecting organizational mechanisms perambulates, by constantly scanning for the catastrophic proportions or disproportions of institutes, governmental agencies, foundations and companies. Central to this survey is the need to speculate on the steep slopes of predictive and fictive computing, finding preparative contemporary works that could help echo-locate and anticipate the eroded sedimentary contours of such a post-anthropocenic organizational psychogeography.



One such possible source is the oeuvre of former architecture student and mangaka Tsutomu Nihei, abounding in decaying monumental residues, tremendous mega structures, endless and bottomless enclosed architectural spaces, heavy-built trajectories spanning on a cosmic scale. In this megastructure of the Blame! manga takes place the derive of Killy the seeker 'getting lost' at a tremendous macro-level, inside something that feels and acts like the completely inbuilt space of a biomechanical digestive tract whose sublime cavities and compartmentalization are unfathomable, and whose gargantuan emptiness can never be satisfied, populated or reclaimed by humans, or solid matter for that matter. The chasms and constructed surfaces bear witness to each and everyone's late arrival into an already finished ecumenopoleis - a word coined by Greek city planner Constantinos Doxiadis in 1967 to define planet-wide metropolises or city continents. 


 
The non-human, but humanoid, synthetic seeker may be a distant phylogenetic kin of the flaneur from a dim, completely deleted past. And if he's really stepping into the former's footprints, no one may know. His mostly silent walking quest through the immensity of the cyber-dungeon, in the search of survivors with uncontaminated network genes, takes the form of an endlessly vague, and mostly uneventful, endeavor. Through the intermediary of bad connections and degraded governmental AIs, we find out that the accelerated expansion of this uber-constructed urban sprawl has finally made distances, measurement, communication or orientation itself, impossible - but it has also allowed entire worldwide chambers (separate, nearly-isolated, monadic worlds), extracellular structures and bio-synthetic ecologies to populate the incommensurable emptiness. The seeker was dispatched to try and re-establish contact with the interrupted communication network, in order to circumvent this uncontrollable melanoma expansion of the mega structure and its cataclysmic pan-urbanism. 



Yet, you get the sensation that Tsutomu Nihei's motion-tracking device records manga volumes and chapters, only when triggered by some imminent danger sensor, some lurking and impending doom, but outside of that, there are innumerable other (non-existing) volumes filled with countless other carceri, passageways suspended over even more precipitous concrete ravines, deep industrial end pits and hanging stalagmite cities. We slowly realize that without this posthumous spatialization, of labyrinthine spaces, already built and expanding unknowingly, without the inherent production of space by exponential growth - the drifting would be impossible, and the narrative itself would come to a grinding halt. In the future, organizational theory could be about managing this overabundance of space. 


 
It would be wrong to call this monumental post-anthropocenic, psychogeographic foray lifeless or inactive. It is, most of the time, vitally stirring in a state of half-dead hibernation, of deep cryptobiosis, accepting that the chaosmos is an important, if not the most important, force at work here, allowing a longue durée, stasis, as well as a crumbling and punctuated disequilibrium. 



But this chaosmos is also ravenously infiltrated by self-regulating entities, maintaining a destructive, auto-immune, hygienic and administrative response, each time the biocratic cyber-authorities and para-institutions encounter distant unregistered populations, transforming them quickly into quarantined biomass. On a truly evolutionary scale, populations have speciated inside the mega structure and have radiated into a myriad of urban hide-outs and exotic organizational forms, but they remain tragically vulnerable to outside intrusion by biocratic detection and inhuman re-inscription.
This architecturalized, cyberpunk jungle is teeming with camouflaged jack in's, infected USB ports, enzymatic pools, high-speed Karados tribes, anti-gravitational towers, talking memory sticks, live pulsating cables, regenerative silicon beings, as part of a strange institutional and departmental shipwreck that has helped them expand, mutate and divide. They are there because they have embedded themselves like a growing biofilm, aggregating in pockets, nooks and crannies, anchoring and latching onto this alveolar stratigraphic hyper-construction. 


 
There seems to be a common correlation between the accelerating expansion of our universe (mega structure) and the residual status of 'normal' visible tangible matter (5% as opposed to furtive dark matter 27% and 68% influential dark energy) containing a generative spatiality that froths and amplifies its own energies. Nobody knows how big the cities are, and, based on this undecidable big data factor, they are now hosting independent self-replicating, unaccountable biocratic institutions, flourishing under organizational metastasis. In the post-anthropocene, radical decentralization as an inevitable outcome of monstrous exponential growth may always face new forms of neo-hierarchical higher-order Netsphere (network) authorities - such as the unchecked automatic safeguard system. 


 
What is important is that the broken down remains and informational spolia of past activities or data records, partially-deleted governmental representatives, the tremendous blueprints and unintelligible construction plans, degenerate holograms, the defective affective artificial intelligences, as well as the unreadable and corroded signposts, still play an important cumulative and germinative role in the post-anthropocenic age. 


 
After the age of Babel-type construction sites, programming languages become untranslatable for the most part. One may quote: ‘who speaks the language of moisture vaporators?' and after that, who speaks the binary idiolect of construction building robots? Then, it's a question of those who can log in, understand and converse with that industrial heavy-duty intelligent machinery that is still sleeping, or cementing around the blocks, or modifying the climate, oblivious to most happenings.  

The lesson is that these broken down institutions, apparatuses and fragmented organizations, caught up in their own pre-programmed protocols, can not only be hacked into, but talked to, as they dimly rehearse purposeful and purpose-like behaviours and long-forgotten monumental plans.



The Blame! knightly prequel NOiSE is an attempt by Tsutomu Nihei to explain and retrace the kairos of institutional timeline, demonstrating how the conspiratorial, cracker, cyber-worshipping Order/Brotherhood has been infiltrating and using illegal tech to digitize and engineer humans for a new Netsphere existence, and, as such, they have become high priests of the new trans-humanist order in a nefarious alliance with Netsphere-user protection agencies run amok. 


 
His Biomega manga is a classic of outbreak psychogeography and biopunk iconography, recording the precipitous chronology of a pre-programmed trans-humanist outbreak that has a double effect of infecting humanity and empowering huge thanatopolitical organizations declaring a state of planetary emergency. These thanatopolitical organizations are called the DRF (Data Recovery Foundation), and its sub-organizations are two joint divisions - PHS (Public Health Service) and the CEU (Compulsory Execution Unit) - that are all implicated in isolating and collecting potentially immune individuals, while eliminating all the infected N5S virus hosts, and all who oppose the genocidal Complete Humanity Conversion Project. The Biomega Organizational Chart made by fans details all the main players and the different inter-departmental relationships. These departments of the future only show how entrenched they have become in the accelerating and decelerating life processes of populations of either synthetic or infected people. DRF (and its parent company Microvolt/Microsoft?), PHS and CEU are not so much vehicles for furthering capital accumulation, but future departments for lifetime accumulation on a planetary scale, by screening for mutated, immune, viral-resistant bodies to a new generation of drug-resistant germs. 


 
The main adversary of the DRF, and sole bulwark against the Complete Humanity Conversion Project, is the mysterious TOA Heavy Industries. What are the TOA Heavy Industries? Possibly just competitors, because they also seem to be in the business of fabricating artificial, synthetic, virus-resistant humans. In the event of an outbreak, they could well be the flagship of Japan's mighty after-war Toyotism (the local version of Taylorism+Fordism).

If TOA stands for the iconic brands of Japanese after-war automation in the car and motorcycle industry sectors, then the Complete Humanity Conversion Project may actually register the demise of this heavy industrialism, ushered in by a new era of viral/antiviral pharmaco-biotech-capitalism amassing biocapital for its own sectors of death and life production. This is only the final extinction level event in a chain of previous de-industrialisations and upgrade moments that have characterized capitalist creative destruction processes. TOA Heavy Industries self-destructs on February 26, 3000 A.D. leaving their branded, synthetic humans on their own. 


 
In recent critiques of capitalist superhero cyborgology (Hassler-Forrest, 2012), we are made aware of a vital genealogical link between superhero figures such Batman and Superman, born in the age of skyscrapers, and the forms of power and urban control implied by the International School and its utopian modernist visions. In the post 9/11 world, the superhero genre movie derives much of its attraction from making recourse to a nostalgic fantasy, where older forms of entrepreneurship are resuscitated in order to fight off representatives of neoliberal chaos capitalism (The Joker), and bring order to the megacity. If in the Biomega post-anthropocenic world everything happens at projectile or rocket hyper-speed, as opposed to the timeless drift of Blame!, it's all possible, because again we find ourselves in a highly urbanized, if not completely urbanized, automotive environment, with interwoven multi-lane motorbike highways, artificial ocean city-islands, where fortified institutions and Maximum Security Containment Facilities are a normal feature. If re-occurring catastrophic centralization facilitated by outbreaks or networks seems to be a constant feature and plague of such organizational doom scenarios, how can we visit the future without being immediately labeled organizationally unfit or terminally-infected? 

 

There is another way in which para-institutions might make it into the post-anthropocene psychogeography, or at least into the clonoanthropocene, as pre-rehearsed simulations, recycled memories and implanted ideas. In the new 2013 Oblivion sci-fi movie, the 2077 After Earth is a devastated planet administered by loyal caretakers, drone-repair technicians who just take orders blindly from some on-screen authority. Continued existence in this future scenario is made possible under a regime of agnatological modes of production. Oblivion marks not only memory loss and impossible data retrieval, but an active cultural-cybernetic production of instrumental ignorance. All would be perfect and idyllic, if that old adagio wouldn't ring true: what organizations don't want to know can hurt them. Nowadays corporate or governmental secrecy and suppression, safe data-disposal and myriad forms of inherent or avoidable cultural-political hyper-amnesia are already acting like commands from the symbolic tetrahedral Tet authority in the movie. Tet is actually the best example of a perfect, almost platonic abstract body, a gigantic suspended impenetrable organization, a remotely controlling algorithmic entity that hovers monolithically above the planet, disguising itself with a familiar human face and a serviceable synthetic voice, while continuing unabashedly the geo-engineered spoilage of the planetary water resources. 

 

The perfect life-in-the-clouds swimming-pool and gorgeous Tower 49 house is only possible if the agnatological motivational machinery is at work from dusk till dawn, as both couple and job life necessitates constant team-building reconfirmations. Tower 49, Tet and Elysium are all recent cinematic versions of luxurious space production of the aristocratic bourgeoisie: new ivory towers with a promise of privilege and a carefree life. These habitats float high above devastated regions and impoverished masses, owing their fascination to their nearly transcendental capacity to hover over the base realities below, or to jump and move freely between fresh air biospheric preserves that function like pleasure ghettos, or adverts for luxury residential areas.
This is a thinly veiled critique of current algorithmic capitalism, anticipating the possibility that such H2Omissions might soon administer and play out deadly water war games. Nevertheless, from a post-anthropocenic, psychogeographic perspective, the final lesson is that most of our present institutions will be submerged or invaginated spaces.



In Oblivion, visiting the New York Public Library becomes a speological enterprise, climbing down a huge dark pit through a tunnel at the top. This library is reminiscent of the famous painting by picturesque artist Hubert Robert des ruines. Freshly and only accidentally escaped from the prisons of Revolutionary Terror, Hubert Robert paints Imaginary view of the Gallery of the Louvre as a Ruin in 1796. 



In post-anthropocenic organizational theory, if museums and libraries have not disappeared completely, it is only true because they will probably discover their true vocation, enjoying an afterlife as shelters and hideout places. Now they are mostly hiding and living grounds for the needy scavengers. We shouldn't think of this as preposterous since the relocation of all cultural goods inside another safe place has been provided for. The library, art collection and museum gallery will find their resting place in that archetype of bunker survivalist logic animating the US military-police-industrial complex: Raven Rock Mountain Complex, active since the grim cold war days. 



This Backup Pentagon will probably be familiar to Dr Strangelove as well. This Mountain Complex is a deep underground command and control center built/(under construction?) since the ‘50s. In an irony of sorts, the future fusion of art museum and command and control centers might explain why humanity since the Lascaux caves has chosen to bury artistic treasures deep underground, unseen, in a dark place. In that fateful 1960s summer, just before the hateful split between Lefebvre and the Situationists, while they were visiting the caves and crypts of the Pyrenees region, they kept wondering why this art was buried so deep in such dark, inaccessible places. In a much later 1983 interview, Lefebvre reminisces their joint bewilderment asking: ‘How were these paintings made, who were they made for, since they weren't painted in order [for us] to see them?'

Well, lo and behold! The new Raven Rock Mountain Complex art collection's last-registered visitors seem to be only seek & destroy drones whose aesthetic ocular preferences go rather in the infrared, heat-detecting(forgery-detecting?) visual spectrum.

As it embraces the military-industrial ideal of resilience, and follows the concave angles of cataclysmic geometry, the new kind of post-anthropocenic museum sinks below ground like a heavy time capsule, towards the center of the planet. It has finally recognized its kinship with the sunken mausoleum, and as such its ultimate protective shell invaginates it into a geologic feature of the porous Mundus Subterraneus. The anti-atomic bunker being nothing else but another variety of cavern.

            Conclusions?!

In a morphological sense, the majority of all organizations were and will basically be a-human. In its initial, Haeckelsian sense, tektology (from Greek τέκτων, tektōn "builder") was a branch of morphology, based on the idea that all multicellular organisms are made up of complex parts, they are 'built' of other organisms. A bauplan made up of other bauplans. Alexander Bogdanov, Marxist revolutionary, blood transfusion martyr, physician, philosopher, sci-fi writer and pioneer of systems theory expanded on this constructivist morphologic idea, giving his new science of Tektology (1913-1922) universal breath and a social purpose. Assemblages are made of other assemblages like a Chinese box. If one was to search in an almost apophenic manner after the hidden laws of complexity, one would establish universal modes of organization, pervasive organizing principles encountered at every scale, human or a-human, living and non-living, among the elemental forces as well as among social conglomerates. Bogdanov saw the conflict between societies, classes and groups as a struggle of organizational forms.

Conversely, post-anthropocenic organization would theoretically cease to be just a human preserve, hidden inside an institutional diagram, the bunker or a managerial manual. It would still be present in a world before humans, or devoid of humans, populated by intelligent swarms, sentient coral reef atolls (Doctorow, 1997) or hive mind AIs.




          Bibliography

Arran Gare, Aleksandr Bogdanov and Systems Theory, Democracy & Nature The Internation Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 6, No. 3, Francis & Taylor Group, 2000.
Athanasius Kircher, Mundus Subterraneus, in XII libros digestus; quo divinum subterrestris mundi opificium, mira ergasteriorum naturæ in eo distributio, verbo pantámorphou Protei regnum, universæ denique naturæ majestas, Joannem Janssonium à Waesberge. Amsterdam 1665.
Benjamin Bratton, Some Trace Effects of the Post-Anthropocene: On Accelerationist Geopolitical Aesthetics, e-flux 43,6 (2013).
Cory Doctorow, I Row-Boat, Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present. Thunder's Mouth Press. 2007.
Dan Hassler-Forest, Capitalist Superheroes: Caped Crusaders in the Neoliberal Age. London: Zero Books, 2012.
Deborah Knowles, Claiming the streets: Feminist implications of psychogeography as a business research method, The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 7,1 (2009), p. 47-54.
Ekümenopolis: Ucu Olmayan Şehir/City Without Limits, 2012, 88 minutes, directed by Imre Azem. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maEcPKBXV0M&list=WLDB2F2DEC847BA186 (accessed September 2013)
Henri Lefebvre on the Situationist International, Interview conducted and translated 1983 by Kristin Ross, October, 79 (Winter 1997).
Iain Sinclair, Lights out for the territory. London: Granta Books, 1997.
John B. Sparks, The Histomap, Four Thousand Years of World History, 1931. http://m.fastcodesign.com/1673266/infographic-4000-years-of-human-history-captured-in-one-retro-chart#5 (accessed September 2013).
Karen W. Arenson, What organizations don't want to know can hurt, New York Times, August 22, 2006.
Nikolai Bukharin, In memory of A.A. Bogdanov: Speech at a civil funeral service, translated and with an introduction by Evgeni V. Pavlov, Platypus Review, 57 (June 2013). http://platypus1917.org/2013/06/01/bukharin-on-bagdanov/ (accessed September 2013)
Steven Menzt, Shipwreck, transcript of talk at the Ecologies of the Inhuman symposium, The George Washington University. http://stevementz.com/shipwreck-ecologies-of-the-inhuman/ (accessed September 2013)
Stevphen Shukaitis and Joanna Figiel, Metropolitan Strategies, Psychogeographic Investigations, Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies, 9 September 2013, DOI: 10.1177/1532708613503781 (accessed September 2013)
Stefan Tiron, Lost Worlds: On the need to repopulate enormous structures, CAA - Center for Art Analysis (Liadan Perjovschi), Detective Draft, Bucharest 2005, p. 5.
Stefan Tiron, Measuring Osmotic Pressure: The Bucharest megastructure, Archis. Dutch magazine for architecture, city, visual culture, 3 (2004).
Stefan Tiron, 2020 manifesto, for the now defunct 2020.ro website and collective, 2003.
Toyotism by analogy with Fordism and Taylorism, refers to the management culture and labor processes dominant in Japan. http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/t/o.htm. (accessed September 2013)
Violina P. Rindova and William H. Starbuck, Ancient Chinese Theories of Control, The Journal of Management Inquiry, 6, 1997, p. 144-159



Runaway Architecture & Kinetic Arcologies: Le Transperceneige / Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho 2013)

"Le problème s'énonce: un wagon est une maison de vingt mètres de long, le train est un village."
 Le Corbusier, Sur les quatres rutes, 1939
 


"Have you ever ridden a conveyor strip before?" Gaines inquired. "It's quite simple. Just remember to face against the motion of the strip as you get on."
Robert Heinlein, The Roads Must Roll, 1940



Sara: Boy, I guess you boys picked the wrong train."
 Runaway Train, Andrei Konchalovsky, 1985



  This post is about runaway architecture, about the burning breaks of rampant urbanization and why one can never jump out but go fast forward. 
   In this, I got emboldened by Korean director Bong Joon-ho 2013 adaption of a Franco-Belge graphic novel by Jaques Lob & Jean Marc Rochette from 1983 - 1984 about a future train carrying the remains of leftover humanity after a climate disaster. Overall it's a modified version of a text originally published on the currently broken link movie review platform planetneukoln.tv 
I wrote the initial text before actually seeing the movie (only read the graphic novel), like many others eagerly awaiting it. Maybe this futuristic socio-political/sci-fi fable might have gone completely unnoticed if it wasn't the movie.  I truly consider that Snowpiercer is revolutionizing our vertical dystopian narratives explored throughout the arcology subgenre that I've been writing and thinking about for some time now. Arcology(fusing Architecture and Ecology) exemplifies at its best a megastructural narrative speculation on the current debacle on how to decide and welcome future city sprawls and prepare ourselves for hyper dense and generalized urban metastasis.
The Ekumenopolis phenomenon of planetary cities is already being anticipated and simulated inside such narrative arcologic vehicles.  Arcology is not only a literary or cinematic subgenre, it is also vehicle for fast forwarding urbanistic/social/environmental (more about this below) uniting unlimited growth (the un- scalable dimensions of urban expansion) and its inverse pull - the retreating city, the ruined carcass left behind expansion. As such, arcologies fuse both terminus points - the growth or the degrowth, revealing their unity within one continuing Babel movement.
Arcologies will be a growing subgenre with a grandiose future that will expand more and more - everything is going to get massively bigger both at the level of failure and at the level of further tryouts. Arcological prophecies make us look aghast as if the hypsipolis apolis - the 'towering high above the place' has taken all its inhabitans by surprise, making them confront their inexorable rush towards a megacity-planet. A planet like a giant block, a Solar satellite like a titanic habitat might easily morph into a walled-city/no entry slums or luxury ghetto paradise. Dredd's Megacity (based on the BosWash megalopolis) is upon us all and it plays on the isolationist mechanisms of Panic Room buildings scaled up to Kowloon dimensions. Every building might be transformed into a sensorial deprivation room, a quarantined area or a ghetto. Furthermore, arcological explorations dwell on the social and political implosions and psychic alterations of humanimal life growing inside immense, vast skyward architectures. 
But with Snowpiercer we have an added dimension. Therefore I think we should invent a new category naming the living, moving cities or contemporary or imaginary societies on wheels, something like kinetic arcologies. These kinetic arcologies could stretch back to the legendary Hell on Wheels - what was basically a parasitic, movable city following the construction route of First Transcontinental Railroad and consisting of the Union Pacific company men, surveyors, support workers, laborers, prostitutes, mercenaries, gamblers. Already with the advent of tracks and trains, cities as hellish places - reveal their Babylonian, Gomorrahn nature. Trains are moving villages in Corbusier's quote, but they leave behind an attractive, -mucus like trail, attracting other cities following in the tracks of the Iron beast.

Cities on legs not unlike the insectoid megastructures like the Walking City of British Architect Ron Herron proposed in 1964 as a moving, searching, intelligent enitity that collaborates and commutes following resources and then disbanding. One might wonder if this flock of walking cities would be following such resources as 'human resources'. Then, 'moving' or 'walking' should be really termed as off-shoring or its opposite - reshoring. City are actually being disassembled or reassembled following the tracks of lower prices and lower wages - and then the fight would be to keep these Walking Investor cities as long as possible bound to a particular patch of promising ground.

Manuel Dominguez Very Large Structure is 'The Walking City of the 21st century'.  His thesis project at ETSA Madrid - is a nomadic city that could move on caterpillar tracks and possibly escape decline and citizens moving away like in the now- classical case of Detroit. This VERY Large Structure is indeed primed for leaving disaffected areas and synchronizing with the workflows and planetary labor circuits.

Still, Snowpiercer introduces something that is lost when the city just has several pairs of legs to run away, Snowpiercer is a train-city-world and as such it is more appropriate to look at it as a conveyor belt polis (Matt Novak from the incredible Paleofuture has more on Moving Sidewalks and World Fair's). Trains represent the horizontal version of the static high rise structures pierced by elevators in the classic arcology. There might be still older varieties of moving houses, as huts perched on two bird legs like Baba Yaga's home, the  powerful forest witch of Slavic folktales that doesn't fly of a broomstick but travel inside a flying mortar wielding a pestle. 

We should then maybe regard elevators (be it portals to hell/échafaud, autonomous inter-dimensional machines or class bound special escalators) as vertical trains moving on upward or downward tracks and between tiers of the social divide.
High Rise(1975) by J G Ballard is one of the most thorough arcological investigations, where the elevator becomes one of the first contact and permanent conflict zones because it 'pierces' all the layers of the crumbling cake. Ballard is also introducing in his 1957 short story initially titled The Concentration City or Built Up and Disaster Area - the impossibility to even think infinite space as an outcome of a completely built environment. In the infinitely compartmentalized Concentration City(infinite carceri high and low levels) cubic space is so concentrated that inhabitants cease to think about an 'outside', about the existence of 'outside space' as a physical possibility. In fact their living condition under complete urbanization is such that they deny the existence of infinite space - it becomes just the idle speculation of a physics student called Franz, who tries to 'pierce' to the other side, to demonstrate that infinite space is not just an abstract idea.
Space becomes a total abstraction and an unattainable commodity in the new hypercrowded future city. Beside that, this new slum megacity seems to blindly embrace new physical rules of the newly curved universe stranding Franz where he started, because he travelled on an invisible(from the inside) circular trajectory. Forward movement becomes a trap, he is basically returning to his own starting point in a perpetual time loop.
Snowpiercer is not only a perpetual motion but also a perpetual sustainability project where the city survives only if its entire world keeps on moving without stopping, without final destination or end station. The sustainability loop of the closed system also incorporates another loop - the hidden trophic reality, food is people of course, partially recycled out of bodies and verminous cockroaches - the initial Russian cosmist conclusion that the circular existence of terrestrial creatures implies that we are actually feeding off our own immediate deceased ancestors. This hidden trophic intimation is again and again rediscovered in the course of future dystopian revelations. 
The end station is literally the big freeze: entropic death (or cosmic?! Kelvin absolute zero degree).
Left on the outside you become a frozen monument to your own catastrophic escape to an outside that sounds like a much better way to end than the slow death recycling going on on the inside.
In the quote, Corbusier remarks on the apparent homeliness of the vagons as the instant wheeled villages. And this maybe their problem - the problem of early modernist planning where a moving city would risk becoming too comfy, too much like the consanguineous and incestuous intimacy of the village life inside a vagon. More than just a mobile village unit - the Snowpiercer train is a Moving Road unit, a suspended city road that continuously rolls on tracks and is designed for - in-movement habitation. A moving segment of space where you can sit, lounge, smoke, eat while rolling at incredible speed. Actually apart from the station stops and the people swapping places because they feel sick from the sudden speed, stops or unidirectional pull, trains maintain this illusion of immobility; of living in the eye of the hurricane or cyclone.

The Sub-surface Moving Platforms or the Continuous Transit Systems proposed by engineers from the Beeler firm in the 1920s for the city of Atlanta used this immobility of the mobile in their plans of revolutionizing transport. Read about them in a post on the kineticarchitecture blog. The idea is still very much with us - Peng Yu-lun is planning a perpetual moving train that could be boarded on and off. The narrative potential of kinetic arcologies was amply demonstrated in a short sci-fi story from the 1940s by Robert Heinlein The Roads Must Roll. A cautionary tale from a pretty conservative era - in the age of Moving Platforms, strikes, unions and specialist traffic elites are seen as the biggest dangers to fast delivery and smoothness. The message seems to be that the new rushing conveyor belt world can't stop, it has to move, circulate goods, people and machines at increasing speeds or otherwise apocalypse might be near.
One of the only rare video of Centre de Calcul documents proposed role in coordinating and data-managing (and preventing accidents) railroad traffic in Romania(the video was pointed out to me by fellow CCB researcher Claudiu Cobilanschi.
"The Roads Must Roll" story proclaims a profound new dictum of the era where production lines must roll at any price and where stopping meant blocking the whole system, paralysing a first world dependent on outside supplies, excess labour force and the speedy distribution of goods. What happens when the perpetual engines meets the eternal winter?
After the eternal winter has descended on humanity as a result of failed weather engineering experiments, everybody still fast lives inside a moving, never stopping, snow piercing high speed train. The train is itself previously fashioned for luxury travel, for people who must travel fast and in style, as if nothing might threaten their living standards.
Just days ago I came on a local Interregional train, the cheapest and slowest train you can take to move between the city of Bucharest and the mountains of Bucegi. The Romanian Railroad company had new posters showing fast as lightening bullet trains escaping from the overcrowded cities to the green countryside. The message was the same: who can afford the trains can afford freedom from pollution, aces to fresh air plus infinite liberty of movement! It basically writes "Escape ...to the mountains".

The first class vagon (it's a three vagon train, always terribly overcrowded in the weekend) was occupied by second class passengers and conflicts started arising because of 'improper' occupied positions, of sitting where you're not supposed to sit. Because of heat, electrical sockets and more room for the feet - first class is always the best place to be on this train.
Still the gatekeepers, some railroad employees enjoying their privileges started bossing around a group of elderly mountaineers that were full of stories and boastful of their climbing and rough life achievements. The railroad employees clearly didn't enjoy the smell of salami, the garlic in the air so they got out at some point to take an international train after telling all the economy class 'illegals' that they were lucky they weren't kicked out...

To me this actual anecdote already constitutes the Snowpiercer story premise. Racially- and class- segregated sitting places have been places of social and political upheaval & civil rights struggle in buses, school classes and trains all over the world. Theatre and Opera houses also maintain a strict fee-based distribution of chairs and seating number. 
Vagons and trains have been always trying to maintain these internal limitations, to secure micro hierarchies in a bid to rent out or award freedom of movement and limit the right to distance/speed. The caste system in trains can be exemplified by the special design of royal or presidential trains or fixed by travelling 1,2,3 classes. Nevertheless train tracks themselves have been fast at spreading revolutions and have been symbols both of unstoppable progress and harbingers or relentless change fused with the Industrial stamina, modernity and revolutions in mass transportation. Trains have a much better carbon print than airplanes, nevertheless they can not compete with cheap flights. I am not a trainspotter but I must say I love trains for their ability to help us conceptualize complex notions expressed by Einsteinian relativity theory.

They help us test and refine our notions of time and space. I once refused a mural sketch by Cristian Akira Darstar of a cosmic train in favor for starships and stellar jump gates, but now started considering trains as essential navigational devices for thinking out struggles inside the speed machines of economy and history.
Nevertheless trains and traintracks have also played a bleak and instrumental role in mass murder, faceless vagons becoming symbols of Holocaust and end line necropolitical extermination. The cattle train of today still retains in its functionality and design this grim and brutal massification reminder. Trains have been used for mass murder and death transports. This only shows their key role in fomenting railway strikes with the help of railroad unions - a ferment for securing fundamental labour rights. Even if they are now past their glory, trains and locomotive drivers have accumulated immense symbolic and heroic power in the former East. The train conductor was always invested with almost sacred responsibilities and duties.
With Snowpiercer we can follow the Ballardian archi-tectonic collapse of his High Rise novel being motorised and imbued with a new impetus. The Snowpiercing train is a time piercing device, where hierarchies get spatialized not in the common architectural model bottom to top (god-like architect on the top, middle class buffering in-between and lowly social climbers below) but somehow back to front. It is a question of who is in the lead, who is closer to the engines of economy and who has a very badly positioned seat in the back. Those in the back are stuck there and kept out of the first class.
The Time Arrow always points in front, the train is running on a mythical perpetual movement engine so there is no turning back, all revolts and contestations must happen in the front.
The world-train is not alone, and train dramas like the Runaway Train of Andrei Konchalovsky (1985) already laid out the tracks. Escaping from the gulag or the prison camp onto the new train brings new challenges. The ex convicts are prisoners inside the train, inside a Runaway system (high speed Financial Algo-Capitalism?) inexorably carrying them and accelerating towards the abyss. They have to organize themselves, learning to live at high speed and moving forward to the locomotive, even if the authorities decide they have to crash the train anyway and kill all its illegal passengers.
What is always being accepted is that the train cannot stop, trains since their very early appearance in film, after they leave station can never halt.
Snowpiercer is running in perpetual circles around its own tail, and has 1001 vagons to drag along the moebius strip track. It has schools, it has green houses, saunas and luxurious venues(here more conceptual artwork delights on the Snowpiercer fanart page) It also has its own brutal army and ideology. The gatekeepers are trained to keep all the unwanted passengers in the back. Basically the whole of humanity 99% leaves in the back, under impossible conditions and under brutal reprimand. Since its beginning as a graphic novel, Snowpiercer reflected the concerns about migration and third world containment at the end of the cold war.

Environmental security (see Betsy Hartmann and Andrew Ross about the new unholy trinity of Population/environment/security) started to be in the 80s the new military and journalistic buzzword(see the infamous Neo-Malthusian article The Coming Anarchy 1994 by Robert Kaplan).
Army was to be deployed in the 'natural' risk zones in the interest of national security. The role of the army was now transforming natural catastrophes into deployment areas. One of the outcomes is that in a freak climate world, the army is most of the time deployed against the survivors themselves. No wonder that in a future cannibal shocker - The Colony - a post apocalyptic ice age movie, the main enemies seem to be both (on the outside) cannibal hordes and (inside) eugenic ex military 'protectors' choosing who is fit or not to survive.
I thoroughly enjoy this degenerative runaway effect of technology. The impact of future life-support systems (such as geo-engineering plants) might not be just their intended scope, as a fix to the climate change but something more ominous. Sufficiently sophisticated science is not just equal to magic, but time erosion, entropy, dilation, drift is transforming mere operational manuals, engine rooms, banal hierarchies into scriptural ad literam commands, priesthoods and castes. The mythical relationship with the engine transform it into a sancta sanctorum - as a taboo place, worshiped but never investigated. There is no surprise that the engine resembles a Victorian poor work house. The fabulous perpetual engine employs underage children in a haunting reversal, sustainable continuous energy needs humans in between the cogs to keep running like hamsters.
Another even more recent movie - The Divide - a dark fable of scarcity and internal collapse, follows a bunker-trapped group of postatomic survivors (New Cold War fears?) who's only 'contact' with the outside (military?) units is one of biomedical predation; they are just a security threat or natural resource to the Hazmat clad enforcers. The divide is a magisterial drift into rapid paranoia, deviation and ultimately speciation - the born-again trauma of a new and horrific inhumanity out of the ashes of normality, conformism and kinship. 

Beside the arcologic element, there is a long tradition of stranded survivor arks and lost post-human generational space ships locked on eternal orbits (two great 50s examples come to mind - A Sense of Wonder and Universe - as well as the recent Pandorum). I am planning to write more on these incredible experiments in deep timing closed system & their onboard societies, caught up in deep space journeys or some extended form of cryogenic hibernation.


"In the beginning there was Jordan thinking his lonely thoughts. Out of the loneliness came a longing; out of the longing came a vision. Out of the dream came a planning and out of the planning came decision. Jordan’s hand was lifted and the ship was born." (Universe, X Minus One, 1955)
It is not what happens during the catastrophic event, the atomic holocaust but what comes afterwards, what are the modifications, transformations and happenings on the road to the destination. As expected, after a 10.000 yr journey the destination itself tends of vanish, tends to get abraded.
Things don't stay still inside the moving capsule, transformations run their course. Captains become infernal or demiurgic creatures experimenting on inhabitants, mutants are banished to the uninhabitable levels of the spaceship and new reproductive and behavioural commandments arise. On the long term, cosmic inhabitants develop strangely familiar societies with conflicts and struggles of emancipation from the rule of new elites that keep a exploitative relationship and distant adoration of the engine rooms/technology/driver seat.