In anticipation of the Independent Game Festival next week, today I constructed the first two cartridges of A Slow Year. More on that soon, but for now I wanted to share the object below, residue from the construction. It’s a board holding a 2k mask ROM for an Atari game.

The photo probably stands alone as far as a blog post goes, but I realized something after extracting it, which is what I really want to share today.

There are three practices of alien phenomenology I discuss in my forthcoming book of that name. Among them are ontography, the authorship of works that reveal the existence and perception of objects, and carpentry, the construction of artifacts that illustrate the perspectives of objects.

Disemboweling old Atari cartridges made me think of a variant of these two practices, one that results from the familiar process of taking things apart. When we disassemble, we reveal components. Even if we don’t understand their purpose or behavior, their existence is, at least, revealed.

We might call these things that result from accidental or intentional disassembly exhaust objects. Of course, from the perspective of the Atari game or its player, the board and ROM are hardly expelled or cast aside. But from the vantage point of the disassembly, these objects become remaindered, underscored by virtue of being cast out.

Besides taking things apart, what are other practices that yield exhaust objects? Throwing things away. Hurricanes. Wal-Mart.

published March 5, 2010


  1. Robert Jackson

    I’d argue your proposed ‘exhaust objects’ highlights a unique variation of the ‘alien’ within alien phenomenology, one that takes into the account the ideological exclusion of minorities.

    And indeed, although we are reminded of this in contemporary politics as a strictly human affair, why can’t objects be held accountable for excluding other objects in an equally ideological manner?