In 1903, E. Richardson of Ontario (US), introduces the lightweight electric iron. A
boat-shaped, electrically heated piece of pointy metal, pressed by the housewife onto
the husband's intimate cloth, surpassing buttonholes whilst creating soft smooth
topologies. Soon after, the toaster, the dust cleaner and other time-saving appliances
invite the housewife to prove herself on other work floors.
These domestic appliances were designed to function on Alternate Current (AC), an
invention of Nicola Tezla. AC became the main standard for the transport of electrical
power after Tezla won 'The War of the Currents' from his former employer Thomas
Edison whose company promoted Direct Current (DC). Edison failed despite his
attempts to disparage the AC-system by electrocuting unwanted stray cats and dogs,
horses and Topsy the circus elephant. In an ultimate attempt, he ordered the design
of an Electric Chair. Unintentionally it became the model for the ultimate anti-men
In the 2nd half of the 20th century electronic personal devices are introduced that
respond intimately to the movements of body and fingertips. The solar powered
calculator and wrist watch, demonstrate the advantages of on-site, stand-alone, clean
and safe (low-power) DC energy production.
This explosive increase of mobile electronics and other DC devices, the 'natural' DC
output of renewable energies like solar and wind, as well as new developments in long
distance DC transportation surge the question if Edison hasn't won after all: DC/AC.
With mankind facing upcoming Water Wars, the 'flagship' of 'the DC-movement' will
be the solar water pump due to it's life-saving and peace keeping qualities.
The electronic apparatuses require seemingly exotic resources, to be dug up from
within the rich, dark Earth in the heart of Africa. A region where -after decades of
digging- the interaction between men, women and children, gorillas, and the soil's
microherds is fundamentally disturbed. With after effects that echo loud and clear
throughout distant futures.
On a day's walk, westbound, women dig with their hands in the darkest of dark soils.
They mix it with water and transform it with the help of the Sun's radiation and a
sculptress from the capital into flower pots, tiles, cutlery. 'Vulnerable' they are called.
The men with arms hide in the bushes at smell distance. They are symbolically
protected by armed men with blue helmets that reside in the adjacent compound.
With the help of the rich black soil, foreign good intentions hope to restore some of
the intimacy and reintegrate the women into the family and the local community.
But after dusk, the diesel generators malfunction, again. On the wings of the silent
darkness the armed men do their thing, again. With their pointy metal objects, they
transform radically the topology of the most sensible body parts. To the extent that
only one man -due to a lifelong built up unique vertical specialization, might be
capable of restoring some fragments.
In the capital K., a man connects an electrical wire to the AC-grid, originating back to
colonial times. It will provide electrical power to some families, until the next
downpour floods the urban jungled sprawl. Then the outer end - pending on the
ground-, will transform the controlled energy in the wire into an extended
electrocution field, silently and invisibly awaiting the bare foot pedestrians that are
trying to wade back home in the heart of darkness.
"Homo homini lupus est" (T. Hobbes)
Bartaku, Brussels, October 2009
This text was written as a reflection upon a quote, to feed the debate during
The Atomium Session by Crosstalks (Brussels University). Brussels Atomium, sphere Ilya Prigogin, May 14th, 2009
[...] “In investigating the roots of our current environmental dilemma and its
connections to science, technology and the economy, we must re-examine the
formation of a world view and a science which, by reconceptualizing reality as a
machine rather than a living organism, sanctioned the domination of both nature and
women. The contribution of such founding 'fathers' of modern science as Francis
Bacon, William Harvey, René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes and Isaac Newton must be
reevaluated.” - Carolyn Merchant in The Death of Nature, 1980