The Clone Road


A few months ago, Pruned ran an excellent piece about farms for cloned meat. There, inside huge barns, rubbery mats of cloned muscle – stretched lumps of unBeef® – would vibrate, growing, pulsing, often ripping, beneath a steady stream of jelly-like vitamin wash. Nutrients would slide across those gleaming, fat-marbled surfaces... clumped and soapy.
A handful of underpaid Mexican night-workers would then come through with industrial strength pizza cutters, chopping the meat-sheets into rectangular blocks.
You would then buy one of those blocks, intending for your own kids to chew it and swallow it. This would be called "feeding them steak."
"Chicken."
"Pork."


But what really interests me here is whether such a scenario might pose a new future for landscape design.
What if someone were to develop, for instance, a kind of organic bio-paving for the world's freeways, replacing asphalt? In which case: could you clone whole stretches of interstate? Cloverleaf junctions, skyways, off-ramps?
Would summer road crews perform something more akin to skin-graft operations? Stretching huge films of living matter over the world's dual carriageways. Minimal surfaces.
And so on.


[Image: Frei Otto's architecture of minimal surfaces].

The risk, of course, would be that there's some fatal, unknown flaw in your cloning technique and so, one day, the freeways wake up. They shake themselves free from the dirt and filth; they tuck their herniated loops of distant traffic circles up underneath themselves; and they walk away...


All of LA's sprawling anatomy of freeways and cloverleaf junctions arises with a tectonic shiver from the arid sands of southern California, artificially intelligent, blinking with traffic lights, and it wanders free into the American desert. Shining. A kind of moving, hyperdimensional squid made of asphalt and miswired traffic control programs shambling into the mountains, raining cars.

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Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

All of LA's sprawling anatomy of freeways and cloverleaf junctions arises with a tectonic shiver from the arid sands of southern California, artificially intelligent, blinking with traffic lights, and it wanders free into the American desert. Shining. A kind of moving, hyperdimensional squid made of asphalt and miswired traffic control programs shambling into the mountains, raining cars.

This sounds very familiar . . . .

April 12, 2006 1:51 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Well... You beat me to it, but I was going to point that out: a little bit of self-plagiarism from the comments in this old post. Good ear for repetition, though.

I liked the description.

April 12, 2006 1:53 PM  
Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

It stuck in my mind because it was/is such a striking, fantastic image.

April 12, 2006 3:09 PM  
Blogger e-tat said...

Holy Che, Batman! It's meat city!

But if it ain't the meat, it's the (sprawling) motorway:
"In all known cosmogonies the medusa has bared a negative reputation; it is antisocial, aggressive, and goes hysterical"(via)

Just what we need. More hormonally afflicted transport structures, more testosterone roaming the highways. I can just imagine the spasms of road rage.

April 12, 2006 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Hexxenn said...

Very surreal.

April 12, 2006 4:29 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

if it did shake off the tire dust and cigarette butts to roam it would be toward the ocean where it would be freed from the desert planes two dimensionality. The big hollow concrete beams providing buoyancy for a performance those graceful curves had suggested all along.

This, of course, just preparation for the eventual breaking away of the interchanges for their ascension into outerspace. Piloted and passenged by the cetaceans.

April 13, 2006 12:08 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Octo - I was so impressed by your mad JT-bustin' b-ball ways that I tipped Defamer. Seriously. You've got a future on ESPN.

April 14, 2006 11:14 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Tim - I like your interest in the cloverleaf rockets, by the way.

But what if Steve Zissou is out tootling around in his undersea vehix when he sees: Los Angeles, deep underwater, moving around all octopus-like, reaching for him, dancing beneath the waves...?

How about a floating superhighway that, ferry-like, detaches from the California coast, complete with cars and pedestrians, and then serpents itself across the waves toward Tokyo? A moving spaghetti bowl of floating freeways? Loop the loops... Knots... Utopia...

April 14, 2006 11:20 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

And e-tat: what if the freeways of the world are an advance landing unit of Lovecraftian/Cthulhuian cephalopods...? Should I find better car insurance?

April 14, 2006 11:22 AM  
Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

So that was you! Thanks for tipping Defamer. I'm not sure what to do with all the JT-specific traffic. We'll redirect readers to BLDGBLOG.

April 14, 2006 6:45 PM  

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