Randonautica #5

Presley Media is, according to its website, “currently casting for upcoming reality series, Ready or Randonaut, which helps real people embrace the true randomness of a mysterious new technology to solve real-life questions and explore interesting locales across America.”

Yesterday I watched the pilot episode. I noticed that each of the three Randonauts (one of whom was the CEO of Presley Media) set an intention and maintained it throughout the session, in which each Randonaut used the app three times to visit three different locations. Keeping to a single intention seemed to help each of them discover more about themselves and have a possibly deeper experience. So I decided to try that.

I set my intention on the word “box” with the specific idea of opening it. I chose Attractor (I think) and was sent to the Durham Crisis Response Center, which is housed in a handsome old Neoclassical Revival-style building that dates to around 1909.

The Center provides “support services for those in need of help in the aftermath of domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking and family violence.”

One of the concepts of Randonautica is the so-called “Despair Meme,” which “is best identified while randonauting as a general sense of fear or skepticism towards continuing your randonaut adventure.” I felt no fear or skepticism but was aware that I had not been in a good mood all day. (It was about 5:00 p.m. when I went Randonauting.) Later, I wondered if my mood was connected to being sent to the Crisis Center.

It appeared to be operating with reduced staffing and access:

The actual coordinates plotted by the app were near the bird feeders in the driveway to the right of the building. A lot of pigeons flew away at the first sign of my approach. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the main user of the blue bird feeder was actually a squirrel:

When it became aware of me, the squirrel jumped onto the fence:

My next destination, chosen from “Void” (I think), took me by The Fruit, downtown Durham’s multi-use performance venue:

The supplied coordinates were near the east-west train tracks, where you can find a lot of old railroad tie plates, spikes, and other discarded track parts:

It looked like someone had been arranging some of them. I found these in exactly this configuration:

The next destination was just a block away, across the same street. It was another construction site:

As you can see, it was blocked off, with both barbed wire and chain link fencing:

A good deal of Randonauting involves encounters with locations that are inaccessible for different reasons. The precise coordinates here, though, were in the middle of the street, which recalls another feature of Randonauting: destinations that require the user to be vigilant — on the lookout for cars, no-trespassing signs, etc.

The view in both directions:

Nearby, a box:

But it did not seem like a good idea to open it:

One final note of curiosity: therandonauts.com was the main site for what actually called itself “The Fatum Project” (pseudonymity tends to persist here — the creator of Randonauting goes by “comrade,” with a lowercase “c”). It was a wealth of information, with a very useful glossary, a thorough wiki, and other resources. Oddly, it was just shuttered. It appears to have been replaced by http://www.randonautica.com, a more professional, more streamlined, but less in-depth site. It does have a FAQ page, which ends: “Still confused? See the terms and theory page.” The former URL http://www.randonauts.com appears there, but there’s no link. Attempting to visit it by typing it into the URL field takes you back to http://www.randonautica.com.

To be continued, then…

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