Slogans like “L’EAU, C’EST LA VIE,” or “WATER IS LIFE,” have graced billboards and newspaper ads, ever since the U.N. launched the Decade of “Water for Life” (2005-2015); but water serves another purpose as well: it stores information on what happened before, what is happening now, and also how the past and present influence what is to come. Of course, such “crystal-gazing” into water is only probabilistic, since many unforeseen occurrences might happen, leaving a slight hint of randomness in the air. While “watching the river flow,” as Bob Dylan sang, one gains new ways of perceiving one’s surrounding ‘not-so-natural-anymore’ world, and this digital divide brought forth by the information age. But before we come to that, let’s first have a quick look at how streamflow, rainfall, air quality, and other data contain measurable information, and how the ‘transfer’ of the latter, of course, creates the essence of modern communication. Using water as communication channel – or bio-organic fiber optic cable – permits an interaction between, for example, clouds and fish. Water as superfluid medium continually reveals and opens, and being as it is, there is no limit in disclosing its movements and sounding its depths. Life, too, is a blend between forward and backward movement – so, instead of envisioning a floating future into the inky black vacuum of space compressed in a somewhat dubious crystal ball, we are probably better off when we are basing our research on the integrated crystalline construction of the watery circuit.

Digital design implies such a process of ‘crystal formation’ designating specific types of communication structures. Crystals are formed when water molecules condense into ordered patterns under far-from-equilibrium conditions. That is, for ordering to take place, molecules must move (i.e., possessing a high degree of mobility). Meanwhile, art and technology stand at a particular juncture in human experience: humanity frozen – that is, a mighty monolith poised for a moment in a trajectory, which seems difficult to change. Indeed, ‘permanent’ creative and/or scientific institutions, as they are known, get more and more an air of being static and set in stone for evermore; ‘movement,’ on the other hand, is less at the foreground, even though current socio-technological (infra-)structures are increasingly defined by fluid networks that operate via flows of data through a system. And the latter is not strictly formulated, but flexible and mobile, cyclically expanding and contracting – scattered around like detached pieces of ice occasionally floating in the river. To see this more vividly, consider a beam of white light that splits into a whole spectrum of its constituent colors (or frequencies) as it flows through a crystal prism. For digital design – visible and invisible, tangible and intangible – exceeding this span here and reaching a balance between dynamics and static equilibrium, between motion and stasis [being composed of binary digits (that is, an ordered pattern of zeroes and ones, nothing and something)], still remains the focal point.

Accordingly, but also in contrast to the physical being (the ‘real-world self’), a digital being (the ‘virtual-world self’) is a type of binary code representing an ordered and finite chain of two numbers. With the emergence and mutual integration of the Internet, the mind has been ‘lifted’ from its material habitat, and gently guided towards a new haven free to project its desires onto, which all run in parallel – never coinciding, divisible and split. Like a dissociative process: “And once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people” (Carroll). ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ also, is due to a fall into unconsciousness – into a psycho-magical world, where time and space become fluid and distorted. In accordance with the main character, we have no difficulty being two of ourselves, as there are few if any adhesive anchors to call us back to reality, on the one hand, and an almost absolute lack of stability, which would provide the necessary mechanism of coping with life after trauma, on the other. Interestingly enough, the term “cybernetics,” which was used prior to words such as cyberspace, technocrats, etc., derives from the Greek KUBERNĒTĒS, literally “steersman,” understanding the latter primarily as a human control mechanism capable of steering society headlong into a large iceberg that, being a symbol of natural and even metaphysical indifference to human acts, will likely suffer no harm.

Indeed, we can observe a somewhat disturbing presence of division, “doubling” or “duplicity” (Derrida) at the core of our being, which manifest themselves through a splitting into the physical and the digital, while only the second-mentioned is enabled to move randomly and without restraint in these placeless spaces of the Internet’s wonderland. Such a loss of position epitomizes today’s “Human 2.0,” for whom external fixation is rather more unnecessary than impossible. In this respect and in respect of the other characteristics, current arts & sciences infrastructure – “artience” as coined by Reilly (2006) –, too, has two remarkable properties: 1. It is a file that has been fragmented and split into multiple parts with all loss of order (the one mentioned in §2), both within and without, as a consequence of it. 2. It is a waste pile; it is a machinic assemblage of excessive fracture, collapse and deformity, the last being always an indication of movement, of course. Now, finally, the artist became the Crown seated on the mountain-top throne, yet it’s all just garbage and trash! Within this pile one can distinguish the same floating ice chunks capable of coexisting with no connection other than to proliferate, split, and continue. But it is not so plainly said that there is no beauty in it; as a matter of fact, all these are means to achieve optical opulence put in order under the composite principle of fragmentary particles (clasts) for flexible whole, akin to the fractal structure seen in the nautilus shell or the Mandelbrot set called “broken symmetry.”

Here, I can only draw attention to the kinetics of fractal structures (such as ice crystals and snowflakes), and their disjunctive, atomizing principle for a technotopian construction of the fragment. Hence, even though the logarithmic spiral construction of a nautilus shell retains its even appearance from the outer side, all the fractal’s innate irregularities and complexities still remain. So, the Weierstrass-Mandelbrot function WM(t) manifests itself in the process of becoming, beginning in the intangible and completing its manifestation in the tangible – such as any conceivable aspect of the wave-like flow between virtual and real world. CAD content in digital design operates as the “glue” that ties together both the ‘breath’ (the animate) with the ‘breeze’ (the inanimate) – a process often referred to as ‘generative design.’ In this respect, primary (generative) shaping procedures represent technologies wherein the component parts are generated from ‘formless matter,’ [e.g., fragments]. Transferred to the creative environment, technically significant, large constructs are made from or consist of smaller particles, [e.g., 3D printing]. A similar approach is taken with the creation and further trade of immaterial CAD products, where the latter are employed as new status symbols (see: gaming cultures and gameplay), thus ousting material design objects, so that, nowadays, virtually all luxurious desires can be satisfied via the digital medium. A future where humans sink themselves down into the depths of a CG world is certainly not so far off.