The Infinite Matrix

Stories Columns Archive FAQ Home
  Schism Matrix by Bruce Sterling

Week 1

Maybe your friends snicker at you because you bought all your furniture from Pier One and Pottery Barn. Imagine their reaction when they come over and find you curled up and sipping a brewski in a chair shaped like a giant, poisonous sea anemone.

Brighten someone's day with a rockin' sci-fi pulp postcard. If you ask me, even at their crassest, crudest and most down-market, these works radiate a mind-expanding, life-affirming virtue.

Especially compared to these gruesome relics of the juvenile-delinquency exploitation industry.

Or these ultra-squalid visions of Burroughsian drug abuse.

As a science fiction writer, I strongly identify with people who commit nuisance crimes and call it art. Are you the only homey in your hood who is spraying indecipherable nametags onto every vertical surface you can reach? Well, this is your site, with street-cred galore. You have eager colleagues even in distant Lithuania.

On the downside, graffiti art gets mighty self-indulgent and monotonous, even when it's not spraybombed on some overpass that you have to drive by every single day.

Okay, you probably don't want to spend a lot of time studying this guy's detailed justifications for his interactive digital art. You just want to hope that your box is Java crash-proof, and you want to click that button that says "Java version of Gravilux." And you may want to clear your calendar, because you may be Graviluxing in there for quite a while.

This has got to be the coolest-looking sewer ever invented. Requires a lot of gardening effort, however.

The thing that was interesting about Roman Egyptians is that they were neither Roman nor Egyptian. They don't seem to have quite gotten it about the mummified burial thing, but they were willing to go through the motions for the sake of local color, and to get their funeral portraits painted.

Mind you, they weren't taking over Egypt: they were taking over *Greek* Egypt, so they were a cosmopolitan mix of Greeks, Jews, Egyptians, Romans, Syrians, and Nubians. They seem slightly insecure and showy, there's something very American about them. The skill of the funeral artists varies, but it's pretty clear that these Greco-Roman-Egyptian babes had pretty well got it going on:

Especially her. Wow. What's your email, baby?

Nice lipstick, princess!

Don't think you're going neglected, ladies:

These portraits are often called "mysterious," but they're probably the *least* mysterious images out of the ancient world. If they jumped out of their 2,000 year old caskets and you saw them down at the local wine bar trying on their gold jewelry, you wouldn't think a thing of it.

If you think the ancient world had some incredible ruins, you should have a lingering look at modern Detroit. It's big and time-consuming, but really, it's one of the most impressive and mindboggling places on the web. "The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit."

If you have to see just one example of the huge bounty here, check out the Michigan Central Railroad Station.


Bruce Sterling displays an enthusiasm for design that could lead the unwary into occasions of sin. Follow his line of thought, and you may find yourself committing nuisance crimes and lounging about on sea anenomes. Check out his speech to the Industrial Designers Society of America.

home | stories | columns | archive | faq |