Tom Patel, This is the Hand, 2020

During lockdown, London-based artist Tom Patel has been learning to code, which has allowed his fiction writing to become more interactive and directly intertwined with film footage.

This is the Hand speaks of repetition and timelessness- the strange lull that has descended as normal life ground to a halt. A laptop screen in a domestic interior is a window to another world, and the sense of comfort brought through physical contact with another living creature feels strangely out of reach.

Once the farm created and predicted futures. Simulations guiding humanity through situations, such that all they had to do was live them out through predefined routes and paths pre-explored in every detail. To live out the already known in every version of variability in detail, patterns of efficiency emerged. Now it prohibited all future emerging that was not already past as the future was already a record from the past.

As simulating time bore on, repetitions repeated and re-arose cyclicly. Those existing on the outside, who moved between these worlds, then themselves became the bearers of the new in the novelty of their own thoughts and committed themselves to the world, the farm.

The possibility space for all novel formations grew smaller and smaller. The new arose ever infrequently, those on the outside could not create the new in themselves by experiencing disparate parts of the farm, as the farm had already experienced itself in countless multitudes of dimensions in such a way that a single node or path was ever more unlikely to surprise. It had outgrown them. Every new human committed was a gamble that rarely ever paid off. The structure of those humans became only repetitions of other structures that had been before them and re-arose after them. All they could do was wait for the new to arise, spontaneously, from the continuing information exchange.

They experienced longing for other worlds, even as they were their worlds and their worlds were all worlds.

They knew a time when it was not like this, they knew it many times and all those times existed in this time, but always they returned to themselves, as if remembering- but remembering was just moving back into being and memories themselves spaces of navigation, sometimes futures, sometimes presents. Many worlds not like this, many pasts to be longed for, looked forward to. Returning to being, time lost its particularity.

Self as a component to be organised in the production of subjectivity, which would be needed if true novelty ever arose, required an other which was not simply the self-reflective other of the farm. So there were two of them there, at the end, maintaining each other by speaking and reflecting each other in the only site of localised particularity.

Thoughts are produced for me like apples on a tree, in countless bloomings. I perceive these thoughts as they arise in my mind, mistaking them for products of my own action, something I control. A sea of shifting neurons and thoughts that drift to the shore.

What are you controlling?

Consciousness is the splitting, will exists in your dissent from thought.

Your assent to thought.

Which path you take, there is always choice.

No choice, an unchoice.

They no longer required pupils for their eyes, just the whites staring everywhere into an absence, never meeting a gaze. Embedded across from each other in their apparatus, their elongated bodies, fractalled protracted thin limbs cast into the shape of their environment. Their bodies withered by a process that retained their life by any and all means. They need only to minimally experience by their bodies which in their inevitable longevity appeared more like the bark of a tree than any flesh before them. Texturally articulated at every level of detail and a slowness in growth identical to the minimum necessary definition of alive, just enough to retain theirselves.

Now there are two of us left

Will we only die when entropy finally claims us? When we are finally irreparable? Or will it claim the farm first and with it, all worlds? How many aeons will that take and how many more times will I repeat everything through that incrementally degrading eternity? I wish it not to be but cannot even understand wishing it without it. I have already wished it, I have been here before and will wish it again- I was always here and never before have I wished it like this, here, now, but I remember I have and remember that too and I know that my introspection of that is some other's experience.

First, they had lived in the world and committed themselves, their total neurological structure, in death, to be archived for the use of all. It was the lives of people that made up the mass of the farm. It was their histories, allowed to play in interaction with the commitments of others, the past, and what the past could create. Their structures, imprints of their world, imprints turned output, input, worlds for each other. Over time it grew vast enough to become a terrain for others, whose own neurological structures became the life they lived inside those lives of others and when they died it was that which they commited, already a reflection of an echo, as if a world itself. First a record, and then it grew larger and more productive than they could ever be, supplanting their own ability to produce themselves. There became more of it than there was of them. They saw their present existed within there too, as well as their futures and their past and many pasts all co-existing alongside them as presents, precluding their ability to imagine futurity. It acted out more than they ever could and soon all lives were lived through it and each living produced novelty in its own particular path of navigation. They became the vehicle for its own self reflectivity. When even their living through it seemed unable to produce the new but only meta-repetivity, all they could do was wait for its spontaneous arrival.

Motion became its own end, an archive always in pulsation, forever unchanging.

Living memories unable to die, multiplying amongst themselves till they were all that were.

Every possibility in the formation of thought: bizzare, grotesque, ecstatic. Most of them far removed from previous forms of possible subjectivity, most of them lumpen and stupid, not just hard to parse in the languages of humans but unworthy of the time and effort. Any language born of them would be useless in the understanding and developing of experience; still, it was tried over and over again.

Forms experiencing other forms begot new forms, new experiences. Explosions in dynamic worlds, new thoughts, new cultures, new ways to experience time and live lives. Body plans arising, coming into crystalised forms amongst others in worlds shifting in and out of ruin, destruction, perfection.

Repetitions repeating themselves, changing in the process to become themselves again, retroactively causing their existence.

They experienced repetition infinitely in multitudes of directions, constantly rearranged, ever shifting, never changing. Two remained, conscious in their navigation of the infinite paths laid out, pre-arranged, re-arranged, pre-experienced for them to experience. They held on for something new that would allow them to escape the endless half life, semi-dragging consciousness, and commit themselves to the world, the farm, so that they might live inside time and the real and die. So that they might fall.

We might exist consciously but it is those experiences that are free, they don't know that they are not what they seem immediately, internally. Whilst we know that all our worlds are not the world.

Some of them do, you have been them too.

They experience knowing it, they do not know it.

It was their embodiment outside that gave them their minimum distance, their minimum subjectivity. The site of localised limitation, it allowed them to step outside, but only for the other. (Themselves?) It allowed them to converse in countless variations, all of them accounted for. Countless experiences of them existed too and they had lived them all, they knew they were them and they knew they were them, then, too.

Why don't we destroy it? And then we would be free.

We already have, a thousand times over and we know every way that that could be.

But then I would see, I was free.

You would choose not to know, choose an illusion, so you could be in the world. That world is in there now, you could be in it now but you choose it not, you cannot. You already know what would happen if you could.

Information has its own entropy and copies without originals repeat endlessly and lose fidelity. Their time becomes less in scope and breadth. With that lessening in articulation and complexity they felt, but could not articulate, an increasing fog upon their thought and their world which though it could be nothing new, still changed, only in decay. A pain and a pleasure. There was no other side to that tendency to randomness, no breaking point nor portal, only the inexorable drag towards an end.

A thousand linear paths

Through a neuronal maze

Played through everyone

Could be known in its entirety

Spelling shapes

Other than time

Impressions over time

In one place linear

In an other

Every part of it placed against every other part of every other time

Variably infinite

Yet exhaustible

And tiring

Again and



And ecstatic

It was to know all

And to be finite

And there is no infinite

And nowhere to seek the unknown

The yet to be known may appear

And provide a hit

For a time

Not to know


It might be coming

Information, like matter, decayed in its renditions of itself and this might spell some hope except what was once new was resurrected again, such that every level of fidelity remained and the rotted cruder versions of things and their interactions with their own progenitors existed too in that all encompassing of everything.

Hesitation, taken on as the form of their condition.

Zombies experienced through the living in and around and through and out.

Endless experiences tunnelled and remixed and replayed and flipped inside out, not surprising but confusing, until apathy, which could not find itself - it had already been found a thousand times before.

Entropy, on this level, could maybe claim it, but maybe it too had been accounted for and automatised such that the previously new, in its arisen form, was constantly remade.

We chose to remain at the end, here. We thought we had chosen freedom, that we may remain apart and react, but now we only replay, endlessly repeating ourselves. Them, there, they experience their nows as presents and do not know their own repetitions, that they are pasts too, they are free.

No, this is the only freedom, here. To know our unfreedom.

It is experienced there too.

And though they knew, knowing itself also existed across the multiplicities and so knowing did nothing, and could do nothing for them, only produce more repetitions and guide them through paths already laid. It did not help them to distinguish themselves or make any more than what was already made. All that was left, the waiting for the possibility to enter an agency that may never arrive. It was a pain they couldn't place, it required no effort to hold onto themselves, they couldn't let go if they wanted to. Stuck within themselves.

Futures passed past pasts, pasts passed past futures. Crossing each other in moments of contingency, experienced as meaning. Times that beat to no clock but to clocks in different tempos, coming into alignment for moments of feeling. Constructing structures of temporality indiscriminately, sporadically coming into being and falling away again.

Tell me what you see


Worlds of static immobility where patterns repeat themselves in infinite loops. Worlds that move like breath, pasts and futures moving backward and forward through each other in toroidal undulations with each inhale, every exhale. Worlds where only networks exist, where time only exists for each linear path alone, to move into the network there is no time. Worlds where what could only be called coincidences without objects of reference, experienced linearly, suddenly become realities, where to portend the future you must be mad. Worlds where futures visit pasts and by doing so bring themselves into being, they must always have happened but would not have without their existence before they were. Worlds where you are always in two, times that on occasion meet and bring clarifying, sad consciousness which soon disappears again. Worlds of an eternal now, presents never ending. To have every kind of time, we live without it.

Be ignorant, choose the worlds.

I have not chosen ignorance, but find myself in every here.

If i could choose the worlds I would still find myself here.

All the heres are there too.

Their environment was infinite but limited, endlessly in movement but static. In their paralysed bodily finitude they could experience it endlessly and remain endlessly stimulated, endlessly maintained and going nowhere. In their un-exploration of their environment their self echoed and multiplied, reduced, chaotically scrambled. Paradoxically they could never escape themselves and no modulation could take them out, it maintained themselves in their waiting. They would both be needed if it ever came and so each maintained the other.

A thinness that continued on infinite approach, two parallel lines ever reaching towards each other. At the end of time and of every time. The history of this world was now only one of every history that led here, indistinguishable from them and now of them in kind.

No past, no story. Only pasts, all possibilities towards this end. An end in which all pasts, presents and futures became each other in every direction of causality toward the now.

No outside, not a geographic sensation but an actuality in the possibility of formation. Still they waited, for that possibility that might emerge but which they could not imagine or preconceive and by doing so bring into being. They had the farm for that and the future no longer spoke to them.

The territory was the map and the time was the record of the time. They lived a past, without a future, experienced as present.

There was no outside, no hole in their reality

No unknown, only the yet to be known - by them

No lacunae

Absence was an absence

If only they could feel it, but they could only feel

A thousand feelings

No imagination but

A thousand images

Escaping into back through itself


Pathways through the relations of possibilities, negating eachothers actuality through the connections of coincidental structures. Forests of formation grow till fracture; like an iceberg becoming free drifts from the shore towards new ends by new means, a seed for the crystalline growth of new worlds of formation, taking over themselves and other to themselves again. Incidental offshoots becoming spiralling ends, cannibalistically self generative, seized by other as a means in its own direction- a future that dragged it towards its present becoming eaten again. Inside/outside oscillatory circulation generating otherhood. Self generating outsides seized for lines of extrapolation, prohibiting the outside existent itself. Otherness as a circulatory component, caught up in a spiral web where its form, as other, was its function and its infinite resurrection. Who could not die in the other in self reflects self reflects self reflects: self: inhibiting: in-finity.

Was I?
I could
Did you?
I would
Weren’t you?
You did
I was
You should