About the Author:
Bruce Sterling, a regular Wired contributor, is the editor of Mirrorshades, the definitive document of the cyberpunk movement. He also wrote The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier.

SRL and related resources on the Web:

The Official SRL Site
See what Mark and friends are up to.

Off the beaten path of normalcy and predictability
Photos of the mechanical beasts in action

The Seemen
Another performance art group with a taste for mechanized destruction.

Is Phoenix Burning?

Life can be nasty, brutish, and short. Mark Pauline's art makes the most of this. As head grease monkey of Survival Research Laboratories, Pauline orchestrates spectacularly savage machine performances in which robots built from industrial scrap and other dubiously acquired components wallop the crap out of anything that gets in their way. In July's Wired, Bruce Sterling treks down to Phoenix and catches the beasts in action.

Bruce Sterling on Mark Pauline and Survival Research Laboratories:
"I like to work for Wired, but it's never really good for my health. I went to Russia in midwinter, caught a cold and lost 10 pounds; I went to Prague, and picked up a coffee habit that I've never been able to break. When I went to Phoenix to dwell in an unheated toxic cavern with the Survival Research Lab people, I caught a cough and fever that flattened me for three days afterward. I wrote most of this article on a laptop computer while shivering in my sickbed at home.

What great beasts slouch toward Phoenix?

"Still, I have no regrets. Covering SRL for Wired was a dream gig. I don't do a lot of art critique in what passes for my normal routine. Furthermore, I invited a guest to the show, Phoenix's own Gail Thackeray, "Ms. Operation Sundevil." It surely would have warmed the hearts of all the hackers and phone phreaks she's busted to see the legendary computer-crime doyenne lurking backstage in her deck shoes, chatting suavely with those leather-clad tattooed art punks. The Joan of Arc of Computer Crimes gamely dodging hot flurries of welder's sparks, risking instant heart seizure from the giant homemade Tesla coil.... And y'know, Gail had a pretty good time at what she insisted on calling 'that concert.' Mark and his friends sure can break the tedium."

Image: Norman Mauskopf
Also in 4.07:

Cyber Rights for Children
Short selling kids in the digital age

Far out digital visionary or least effective businessman alive?

Redmond's Ray Tracers
Microsoft wants to make the graphical worlds that replace the Web

Computer Insect
A Chinese software pirate tells it like it is

To Surf and Protect
Guardian Angels on the Net

The cult at the end of the world

The Netizen
Alvin Toffler rewrites the Constitution

Internet Caucus
Congress goes to Cyberschool


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