The Machine Stops
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“You who listen to me are in a better position to judge about the French Revolution than I am. Your descendants will be even in a better position than you, for they will learn what you think I think, and yet another intermediate will be added to the chain. And in time…there will come a generation…which will see the French Revolution not as it happened, nor as they would like it to have happened, but as it would have happened, had it taken place in the days of the Machine.”
E.M. Forster wrote his one work of dystopian science fiction, The Machine Stops, in 1909 – two years before the invention of television – and yet the text echoes our own over-networking-induced autophobia. Informed by the physical isolation imposed by the Edwardian England’s homosexual oppression, Forster describes the world in the aftermath of an unnamed ecological crisis, living divided underground, without physical contact and without history – a captive life held within in the habitual routine that is an endless electronic circulation of opinions and subjectivities. It is an early 20th century foretelling of our own unfolding age. Working from this ominously familiar future, twelve artists – Julieta Aranda, Fia Backström & R. Lyon, Ed Atkins, Ian Cheng, Melanie Gilligan, Tobias Madison, Pedro Neves Marques, Jeff Nagy, Rachel Rose, Bea Schlingelhoff, Mariana Silva – have contributed new texts addressing the current state of culture in the age of global networks and global crisis.