Summer Thesis Research & Experimentation : Government Conspiracies, Robots, Outer Space…Surface??

I recently posted on craigslist an inquiry regarding my topic of research, trying to reach out to anyone who may have whereabouts of interesting subterranean spaces in the SF area but also to anyone who had stories, conspiracies, or history regarding the topic.  Architect as investigative journalist, if you will. I had a hunch that I might get something out of it, whether that be an adventure, general knowledge, or a good story. I actually ended up getting mostly sane responses: people telling me about the Seattle Underground, Hunt Midwest (a subterranean 7 mile corporate development in Kansas City), and urban explorers who claim that “there are  buildings in the downtown area where the basements are actually the holds of ships that were abandoned during the Gold Rush, as the crews deserted to look for riches”. All these things are interesting enough, but one that was particularly interesting was from a guy named Aaron. He writes,

How do we know you’re not a goverment stooge?
You are ofcource fully aware that the Goverment is trying to map and shutdown every possible  cave or refuge that people may seek durning an emergency.
Its for quite obvious reasons.The cabel that is running the goverment want the casualities as high as possible.Their goal ofcouce being a 90% reduction of population on the planet.
If you don’t know about what i”m refering to ,you should write back ,but if you don’t write I understand..your just a stooge doing his job and I have nothing you want.

Of course, being the open-minded person I am, and after assuring the man that I am not a stooge (at least not one related to the federal government) I responded, and got the following email back:

At least 13 very powerful underground explosions rocked the United States Midwest in 2011. They registered as small shallow earthquakes with the USGS. Many of the underground high explosive detonations registered as 2.6 magnitude earthquakes. The U.S. military is said to be sealing off the tunnels so that the Globalists and the U.S. ghost government (Federal Reserve Bankers, FEMA, DHS, CIA) can’t run and hide

A government made map of every underground cavern or subterranean space in the US! Whether you believe this kind of stuff or not (I personally do not),  it got me thinking about my project, and in particular reminded me of something real I stumbled across involving”Counter Tunnel Robotics”, a program being implemented by the US Air Force that aims to “develop an unmanned system with the capability to access, traverse, navigate, map, survey, and disrupt operations in rough subterranean environments.” The program focuses on research and development of a fully autonomous system of robots that would be able to traverse subterranean networks and collect accurate data where people are unable to physically travel. Maybe Aaron was not as far off as I thought in regards to those government mappings…

“The [Counter Tunnel Robotics] system is an innovative all-terrain mobility platform capable of accessing tunnel systems through a small (8 inch) borehole and traversing adverse tunnel terrain including vertical obstacles up to 2ft in height and chasms up to 2ft in length. The system’s function is to provide a platform capable of carrying a small sensor package while navigating and overcoming terrain obstacles inside the tunnel. Counter tunnel technologies are needed to support intelligence gathering and safety of troops and personnel in unmapped and unknown tunnel environments. The system is the initial step in achieving a fully autonomous counter tunnel system.”

It was especially surprising that this program is being implemented by the Air Force of all things, seeing that this technology is just as akin to be used in underground lairs in Afghanistan or the surface of the moon/Mars, or in my case, to see and understand the subsurface of the city. Looking deeper we can find a section of the Air Force website that describes “Surveillance and Reconnaissance” as a part of their scope of research,  described as the “systematic observation of air, space, surface, or subsurface areas, places, persons, or things, by visual, aural, electronic, photographic, or other means. Surveillance is a continuing process, not oriented to a specific target, while reconnaissance looks for specific information and generally has a time constraint.”

The fact that the Air Force is involved in a technology that can be used interchangeably in the ground or in outer space (as well as in the sky) is extremely interesting, as this implies that they actually view the ground and the sky as the same thing, the ground being a thicker version of the sky.  The ground and sky are seen abstractly as spatial entities, navigable by available technology past “terrain obstacles” the same way a plane would navigate through turbulence or a bat would use sound radar to navigate through darkness. The inside of the earth is therefore seen as theoretically identical to the atmosphere: it is an undifferentiated space/surface that can be traversed in all directions by the appropriate machinery. What we consciously are able to experience (the surface of the earth) is our perception of reality that to us exists, the rest lies in the realm of the uncharted spatial subconscious of the subsurface (or underground), or the supersurface (the sky, outer space).

In her book Notes On the Underground, Rosalind Williams expands on the concept of the underground from the earth to the sky. She compares environmental consciousness with subterranean consciousness, pointing out that in actuality the real surface of the planet is the upper edge of the atmosphere. What we experience is everything below the frigid and uninhabitable realm of outer space, and so in a sense we have always lived below the surface of the planet, in a closed, finite environment. While we once looked at the city as the image of our disassociation from traditional nature, we now see the urban underground (real or fictional) as a model of an artificial environment from which nature has been effectively banished.

“Today, not the city but the spaceship has become the standard image of the megatechnic ideal of complete detachment from the organic habitat. This newer image, however, denies the claustrophobic realities of human life on earth. Although the spacecraft itself may model an all-encompassing technological environment, its mission – hurtling through endless space, going boldly where no one has gone before- suggests the vision of an endless frontier where new varieties of nature wait to be discovered….because of the indeterminacy of the interstellar void, space travel lacks the verticality that gives the underworld its unique power in the human imagination”

More to come as I will further expand on the Williams later in the week…

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