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ciphercity

This tag is associated with 52 posts

A thousand insides

Most cities old and new have underground tunnels, passageways, services, and communication systems, many of these conduits are unused and obsolete. I live in a street with a 15 metre deep tunnel that for 21 years had a rail and cable system for hauling goods and passengers along its 1:27 gradient. The tunnel was since … Continue reading

City on a hill

The maze serves as a metaphor for the city. People get lost in the streets, corridors and communication systems of the city. Cities give the appearance of regularity, symmetry, and order, at least on a map. In his description of cities and places, the writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) affirmed that a maze is a … Continue reading

Unicursality

The traditional unicursal maze has no forking paths but leads directly to its centre. As a drawing or ornamental pattern you imagine the lines are walls and trace your finger through the opening. You eventually arrive at the centre, through a series of left and right turns. There’s just one path through the intestines of … Continue reading

Hacking the city of the future

What happens when hackers get hacked? The headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) is located between the cities of Washington and Baltimore. Amongst its many operations the NSA develops hacking tools for spying on other countries. But some of these tools leaked out, and earlier this year were turned on the city of … Continue reading

The twist of the pen

“The application of a new force during the process of writing is usually accompanied by a twisting of the tip of the pen and a deviation from the already-established path into a new twist” (165). That’s a quote about calligraphic writing from Reza Negarestani, author of Cyclonopedia. The twist of the pen serves as leitmotif … Continue reading

Don’t go into the crypt!

Those who couldn’t fight, or were too important to lose in battle were told to hide in the crypt of the capital for safety. Meanwhile those above ground battled the White Walkers and their army of the dead (called “wights”). Zombie logic I wasn’t following Game of Thrones closely enough to realise that the crypt … Continue reading

Apocalypse then

The science fiction writer Fredric Brown (1906-1972) retells a short horror story (attributed originally to Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1836-1907]). It goes as follows: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.” That’s reputedly the shortest horror story ever written. It’s apocalyptic. It’s about the last human … Continue reading

Escapology 101

Biologists and animal behaviourists refer to their study of escape responses as escapology. Fish, cockroaches and higher animals move at speed in a direction away from an immediate threat from a predator, but not always, and not directly. The direction of the escape travel depends on the lay of the land, the position of likely … Continue reading

The treehouse

A treehouse provides both prospect and refuge. It’s built to position its residents some distance above the ground. A treehouse is organic and improvised, structured to oblige its particular and uncertain superstructure — the tree. The structure is usually additive. It looks as though it could extend further into the tree canopy, and even connect … Continue reading

Africa calling: How to say a lot with a little

When we had cell phones it was called “beeping.” Now in the era of smartphones another word serves better. It’s “flashing” or “making a flash call.” I think we even did it with land lines as well back in the day. Children away from home would flash call their parents. Though we didn’t recognise it … Continue reading

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