In the later decades of his philosophy, Vilém Flusser puts the universe under his microscope, seeing the same “digital” structure in the natural world as in the most advanced computer technology of his time. At the most basic level, Flusser views natural and cultural phenomena alike as clusters of particles that can be broken apart and rearranged into other relational configurations. Citing Democritus, his metaphors describe the world as grains of sand that coalesce into “islands” and dissolve again in nature’s “river” of entropic cycles of random, temporary information creation, a process humans want to harness to create new objects and environments intentionally that are more suited to their needs and desires.
Digital computer technology is the key to this new creativity: For Flusser computation means scattering the bits, and using a chance to dictate the placement of points instead of planning outlines or forms beforehand. Instead of measuring rods, the computing agent rather follows the wind as it “calculates” or grinds up the world into tiny pebbles or grains of sand, scatters them randomly, and then “computes” or sweeps the sand grains into dunes, or blows plant seeds onto a field to fall and sprout where they may. Seeing the entire world as sand grains or ones and zeros, humans can thus deliberately rearrange things like genes, particles, and even individuals to create new structures, societies, and even living beings.
Original article by Anne Popiel