Adeptus Exemptus Summit

Transcript Day 2: Keynote

An earnest young suit sheepishly approached the seated GATES. “Can I get you anything sir?”

GATES sneered. “You fucking moron.” His third arm extended out from his chest and stuck up a spidery middle finger. “Bring me a root beer.” The young suit scampered to obey. He was never heard from again.

GATES stood and faced the people seated around the large table of dark gleaming wood. “Gentlemen,” he said, cracking a sly grin. They chuckled. The arm popped from his chest and fell to the thickly carpeted floor with a gentle thud.

“Let’s begin!” A polite yet enthusiastic round of applause. The lights dimmed and a screen hummed into place behind him. The faintest whir of projector fans could be heard as images were illuminated.

“Poking jolly fun at linear interpretations of Darwinian competition and progress,” said GATES, “this group operates with perverse and intimate team-work.” The slide on the left of the screen showed a happy work group, five or six young people gathered around a monitor. They were casual, yet clean cut, and represented a careful balance of race and gender. On the computer monitor, very very small, were images of naked, mud-covered women. The other slide was a silicon chip with happy cartoon ants marching around the circuits.

The seated viewers made an appreciative sound nearly in unison.

“Next,” he said, pinching the coin sized control in his hand.

The left side showed Jeff Bridges as “Flynn” at the end of the movie Tron, his arms spread wide in his wide lapeled suit. He had just stepped triumphantly out of his black corporate helicopter, and was about to shout the cryptic game-grid phrase to his friends: “Greetings Programs!” The right side was a microscopic image of a cell bursting, viruses spilling from its ruptured membrane.

“This snappy little number offers a corruption of the modernist cross-sectional view– ” GATES paused, turning towards his audience and slightly cocking an eyebrow, “a dissection which usually spells death.” Turning back to the screen and raising a demonstrative hand, “But in this case the palpitating vivisection speaks defiantly of new sultry modes.”

A more subdued murmur of appreciation went around the table, along with the scratching of notes onto legal pads.

GATES clicked the controller.

The left image was a close-up taken from above of a hand cupped over a computer mouse. The right was a nearly identical close up taken straight-on of a hand cupped over a man’s scrotum.

“Human contact reduced to a series of quivering half-inch squares– a mysterious combination of minimalist purity and puerile obscenity,” GATES again offered his sly grin, “all combined in the alchemical oven of the ‘click.'”

Slightly salacious laughter around the table.

“Ha ha,” said GATES, clicking.

The left image was an army tank, completely covered in something that looked sticky and brown. The right was a diagram of a human head with tubes and ports along the sides of the skull.

“Thorax, smeared caprice, and nuggets of negative critique all combine for a happy fluid moment. Relational aesthetics or negative entrancement?” He added a peppy edge to his voice. “You be the judge, and use your units of value as your gavel…” he paused. “Or else!”

GATES flashed a winning smile. A smile of control. A thoughtful “hmm” came from near the back of the room. Click.

The two new images combined into a single panorama of a classic flying saucer–an elliptical silver disk sitting on three legs, photographed inside an aircraft hangar or warehouse. A fuzzy substance on the concrete floor resembling mold seemed to be surrounding the saucer, growing towards it.

“Beware the ideal form,” said GATES. “Far from innocent, such entities are in fact surreptitiously accomplishing some ideological task. But never fear–” He raised a hand as if to reassure. “Our hungry little assassins are about to give the ideologues what-ho!”

A brief chuckle around the table as the images switched.

On the left seemed to be an electron microscopy image of an ovoid object, covered with geometric patterns resembling Arabic calligraphy. The right image was a large tumor, nestled amongst unidentifiable organs.

“Lusty buccaneers and roustabouts abound in the world of tiny things,” said GATES, as if recounting a tale of daring-do. “This hearty fellow is about to set off on a rousing jaunt around the polyp, singing chemical chanties of hope and abandon.” The room was quiet. Sound of a pencil on paper. GATES made them wait for it. A foot shifted. He counted three breaths. A foot shifted. He clicked.

Two images of vegetative forms lying on the ground. One could have been a white squash covered with lesions, or perhaps a child’s arm. The other seemed to have been left out in the sun for a long time, and had developed a distinctly orifice-like depression in its center.

“As vegetables rot, their quotidian forms give way to new and invigoratingly anti-geometric models of interaction. Mesomorphic slime as the ‘root’ of life is, as you can see here, undeniable.”

There was no audible response. Someone shifted in their seat, very slowly and carefully. Click.

The next images were textures, moist and uneven, vaguely flesh toned, disturbingly impossible to decipher. Text at the bottom of one image read “exocrine.” Someone groaned very softly.

“The largest organ of the body is rarely given its proper due. This depiction of our membranous pal emphasizes its glandular nature. It also points out that skin– semi-permeable to the last–should not be construed as a barrier.” GATES made the two-handed open-palmed gesture of political reason and goodwill. “No indeed! We are herein offered an exciting frontier filled with wily threats and interesting treasures to seek out and enjoy.”

As he finished saying this, he smiled benevolently, paused for a beat, and clicked.

Dim red fields, perhaps embryonic. Light shining through flesh?

“The enchantment of desire summons phantoms out of the bosom and makes them dance flirtatiously before their creator.” He swept a hand vigorously at the red screen. “Behold the patterns woven by this self-reinforcing growth!”

Then, turning fully away from the screen, he said in an advisory tone of voice, “And please note that Luke Skywalker externalized his desire by means of a holographic projection of his sister.”

The screen began to strobe. A murmur of confusion. GATES continued staring at them placidly, nearly frozen. Words flashed within a subliminally rapid stream of images. “Iliopectineal”? “Parachromatin”? Something about eating? There was a powerful throbbing just below the edge of hearing. A horde of swarming cannibal ants oozed across the wall. Beat patterns formed on the eyelids of those who tried to shut out the flashing. It went on and on. Someone collapsed face down on the table, quivering, and was quickly whisked out a door by two efficient technicians wearing surgical masks. The door closed behind them soundlessly. The pulsing had stopped. A muffled retching sound in the room. A line of drool reflected faintly on the table in front of the empty chair.

The screen was displaying the huge face of a grinning child, but the eyes were somehow too wide, the muscles too rigid, as if a smile had been pasted over a screaming mouth.

“And finally,” said GATES with a click.

Something that eventually could be resolved as a bisected head, perhaps a cow, was projected alongside an image of a cat with electrodes protruding from the back of its skull.

“Sexy carbon atoms,” announced GATES proudly, both arms out wide.

Technicians distributed briefing documents around the table as he left the room.


“Transcript of Adeptus Exemptus Summit – Day 2: Keynote”
From: “Space Paranoids” MFA Thesis. CalArts. 2000.