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N
O
R
M
A
L

0
0
0

2
0
1
3

NORMAL

000

STORY

Aurelien R. Michon

GR APHICS

Cedric Flazinski

CUSTOM

Made with Processing

APPS

MADE

in Paris

BETWEEN

June 2012 & January 2013

PUBLISHED

by self
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000
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From the outside, the Culture stands as a majestic

019

tree of synthetic concrete rising from the ground

020

and up into the sky, tearing scarce clouds apart in

021

its endless ascent. The crops surrounding the root

022

of the tree-shaped city are optimally organized in

023

circles, saving space and labor to the fully auto-

024

mated machines taking care of them, whereas the

025

Culture itself is an anarchic and twisted edifice

026

sculpted off chaos by the burning energies of city

027

life. If you stare at it for a while, you can see it

028

transform before your eyes, bit by bit, as old con-

029

structions vanish while new ones arise, leaving only

030

vestiges of past architectural whims in strata of

031

ancient history.

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033

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Each day, the Machine — the omnipresent neural net-

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work unifying all human knowledge and experience,

038

and in charge of the upkeep of the Culture — pro-

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vides everyone with a portion of automatically syn-

040

thesized and cultivated raw materials, commonly re-

041

ferred to as Materia. Through a permanent biological

042

monitoring and numerous behavioral scans of the

043

population, the Machine can estimate easily and with

044

great accuracy how much one needs to survive, be

045

in good health, and never feel the lack of anything.

046

Because, clearly, the Machine’s primary function is

047

to maintain all citizens in a very comfortable state

048

of abundance.

049

In exchange for a share of their generously allo-

050

cated resources, frenz can fulfill all of their ma-

051

terial desires — from basic needs such as food and

052

shelter to the most trivial things — with the help

053

of ubiquitous printers capable of near-molecular as-

054

sembling. Coupled with contextual fabrication in-

055

terfaces, these let you customize your creations at

056

will: you can select templates created by other us-

057

ers, modify them just enough to satisfy your need

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for personalization, mix templates into new ones, or

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even start from scratch, coding what you need from

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the very core.

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Provided you are equipped with the mandatory non-

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invasive eye implant — the ‘i’ — you will see count-

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less decorations, messages, announcements, and info-

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graphics manifest in a digital layer covering every

074

square centimeter of your vision. What used to be

075

called augmented reality is now irreversibly integrat-

076

ed to frenz’ lives, both as a navigation tool and as

077

a means of esthetic expression. The display is of me-

078

diocre quality, but lo-def is a small price to pay in

079

exchange for an ultrafast and permanent flow of in-

080

formation. And you should trust frenz who claim you

081

have to be born here to endure such a massive data

082

input without throwing up. Even for them, it can get

083

nauseous at times, although the ‘i’ offers many ways

084

to handle and filter this visual load.

085

Nevertheless, it is safe to say that if one were

086

to suppress it, people would be completely lost in

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the Culture: you won’t find your way without an ‘i’.

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There is no leader in the Culture, nor is there any

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kind of government, even if some ideological gather-

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ings still take place here and there. All adminis-

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trative decisions are calculated through the Machine,

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according to statistical deductions garnered from

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people’s opinions. This mathematical take on self-

110

management can seem strange at first sight, but be-

111

cause it is highly permissive and maintains the es-

112

sential feeling that nothing is ever forbidden, most

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frenz consider themselves satisfied, and keep a cer-

114

tain trust and faith in the system. One just has to

115

understand that the Machine is not an ill-intended

116

super-intelligent computer, but the result of a re-

117

al-time connection between all human brains: it is

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a giant agora for thought, managing the Culture in

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a seemingly ultra-democratic manner. No decision is

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ever static, and any citizen’s voice can influence

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the global debate in its own way, so no one ever

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feels the need to suppress the system as a whole.

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Instead, it is considered as a code for programming

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your own system, collectively, with all your fellow-

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citizens. Frenz consider the Machine as an estab-

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lished force, a figure to their society that cannot

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be contested without questioning the whole Culture.

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It can never go wrong, as it bears no other idea

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than the logical average of everyone’s opinion. As

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a political system, the Machine succeeds where

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every other has failed, neutralizing all aspirations

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for revolution.

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The Machine gathers all the data it needs through

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the very way frenz exchange information:

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Rapid Language. If spoken language is still prac-

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ticed for direct social interaction, frenz mostly

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communicate in this simplified form favoring the

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quick encoding of opinions. In fact, expressing your

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opinion could be considered your only civic duty in

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the Culture: it is through never-ending debates about

146

everything that this society evolves and progresses.

147

Here, privacy is unthinkable — all conversations

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and transmissions are public and accessible to any-

149

one at all time. But even if you could be tempted

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to call this a transparent system, make no mistake:

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having such shells of data surround anything and

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anyone is far from being transparent. Frenz always end

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up scratching more than they can see.

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Perhaps you now have the feeling that the Culture

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is nothing but a giant amusement park for overgrown

175

children, and there is some truth in that indeed.

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Everything here is built around entertainment, and

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personal augmentations as well as public displays

178

constantly glorify mass distraction. Of course, it

179

could be argued that such immoderate hedonism has

180

a negative impact on global human progress, but you

181

have to understand no frenz would ever complain about

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that. Dreams of brighter tomorrows have all faded

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under the blinding light of this perfect present.

\°•°/
N O R M A L S
IS A PARIS–BASED BLEND OF ANTICIPATORY DESIGNS AND
NARRATIVES DEVOTED TO CELEBRATING THE FUTURE NETWORKED ‘ME-FEST’ AND ITS SERVERS FULL OF CUTE CAT
VIDEOS, THROUGH ONE BIG STORYLINE. AS OF FEBRUARY
2012, THE GROUP IS ACTIVE BUILDING AN ORIGINAL PUBLICATION SERIES, AS WELL AS PROTOTYPING ITS FICTION
FOR REAL.
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
This document is a preview of N O R M A L S
0 0 1 + 0 0 2 + 0 0 3 a super deluxe designer
sci-fi series which features the 3 first episodes of
a graphic novel, a collection of short fictions,
and a design research journal.
order your copy at BUY.NORMALFUTU.RE
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
stay put at NORMALFUTU.RE & @lab_normals

© N O R M A L S 2 0 1 3


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