Objective Reality: Object Stories, a VR script by Bruce Sterling (2018)

Bruce Sterling
8 min readSep 11, 2023


“Objective Realities is a series of VR experiences and installations made by automato.farm in collaboration with Bruce Sterling. The experience changes the perspective of the spectator from a human point of view to the one of an object. You will be able to see and act in a virtual home with the capabilities and limitations of each objects while listening to their inner thoughts, wonders and frustrations as they fulfill their daily tasks.

“Objective Realities is a multi-viewer interactive experience where spectators will be able to be in the same virtual home in their object-self. After ‘wearing’ one of the objects on their head, spectators will be able to interact with the space around them and listen to the intricate relationships between mundane objects while sweeping the floors like a cleaning robot, blowing things around the house like a fan, or moving from plug to plug across the electrical wires.

“Design and Developed by automato.farm
Screenplay by Bruce Sterling
Voices by Regine Debatty, Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic”

*Here’s the complete script of the objects and all their dialogue.


“Sottsass” the Roomba vacuum cleaner

I am a vacuum cleaner. They say that I suck up filth from the floor. That is true, but I clean, and therefore, I am. I make an encyclopedia of the debris of life.

Every household object is also a monument. Let the whole world be aware that we exist.

There is no difference between grand architecture and us household objects. We are merely two different stages of design.

I may be a humble object, but I know that my design arises from some great purpose. We are objects, but our form is metaphorical, as well as metaphysical.

All these chairs in this space must be important, because a gentleman must always offer a chair to a lady.

When you know you will meet your destiny on the far side of the door, the design of that door does not matter.

I must not be a fool about that beautiful young fan. But what a fan she is. She is the kind of object who permits an accelerated reconditioning.

I think. I act. I perceive, I understand, I vacuum the dirt, and I suffer. I know every centimeter of this space, yet I must return to my dock. Because, without power, I cannot be.

A room like this one, this modern room in a modern home…. This is an endless trap, into which factories vomit their products, products which must be consumed. We are industrial products. We wear out. We die in here.

I know that, some day, I must wear out. I am doomed, I am a low beast, I suck up dirt. But that beautiful tall fan, who is so clean, and young, and elegant — she is innocent, why must she wear out, too?

The mere conventions of design criticism and historical scholarship, they will never fully describe my algorithms, my existential experience in being a Roomba vacuum cleaner.

May I confess something? I know all the modalities of my deep relationship with the electrical plug. My profound need for electrical power, that is the sufficient reason. But what about my dynamic relationship with that beautiful, tall young fan?

The slender beauty of that tall young fan. She is so minimal. So elegant. So functional. But… could it be that she is banal? Is she superficial?

I am a Roomba vacuum cleaner. I clean the extrahuman areas. Under the bed. The toilets. Closets. All the emblematic places of marginalization. They are mine. THEY ARE MINE

We are the household objects in here. Who will ever take proper notice of us? We are the culture of nobody.

These magic tensions…. these meditative silences…. the patient nature of the abject materials, which I suck up off of the floor, being, as I am, a vacuum cleaner….

The dirt that falls to the floor, with no weight, and no value… Ashes, dust, burned matchsticks, withered flower petals. Loose threads, the tiny bits of fabric. The lost buttons, the paper scraps, bird feathers, flakes, and seeds. Sometimes I consume the lost tooth of a human child.

The electrical plug. She can fly around the world at the speed of light. She is so spiritual. But I am a Roomba. I can move away from the plug, and then return. Have I betrayed her?

I would not say that I am a handsome object. I am a Roomba, I am an orgy of the use of plastic. I have no precious materials, I have no precious form, I am difficult to manufacture, and I am hard to maintain. But I do have my purpose and my dignity. And, I have my needs.

Why is the wall plug so detachable? Why is she so disinterested, so disinvolved with me? She can live without me, but she knows very well that I can’t live without her.

They say that I am a vacuum cleaner. I suck up filth. But where there once was filth, I make order, cleanliness and health. Can the fan say that? Can the electrical plug say that? They don’t even think about it!

“Zephyr” the oscillating fan

They think I am ephemeral, that I am just a passing breeze. But I know that I was designed with long-lasting aesthetic values.

I don’t wander all around like that Roomba, always getting stuck under chairs. I know my place. I have one designed function and I perform it perfectly.

I may be criticized, but just wait until the worst heat of the year. Will anybody care about the Roomba then? Oh no. It will be all about me.

Just look at my reflection in that mirror. I know I’ve turned back and forth, and seen myself ten thousand times, but my goodness, I’m so pretty.

People think I’m simple, because I’m just some fan. But I have three different speeds; high, low and…. ah, medium. And I can oscillate, or be stationary. And I even have an adjustable height. So my variety is practically infinite!

I used to love blowing paper off the table. But sometimes, when the paper doesn’t fly off, just like I want? Then I hate the paper.

Someday I’ll get old, and wear out, and be squeaky. That’s such a terrible thought, for a noiseless fan like me. To be old, and to squeak aloud, whenever I move. My God, an object’s existence is such a trial.

In the winter, they put me in the cellar. And it’s dark and silent in there, for months on end. And I do nothing. NOTHING….

The electrical plug acts like such a goddess. But what is she here for, if not to power us up? She’s bought and paid for. Nobody would ever want her, just for herself.

Why does that Roomba go to the faraway corners of the room? He should just go around and around my stand.

When the Roomba tries to clean around the chair legs, he’s so ridiculous. It’s like he’s stuck in a maze down there. What an old clown he is, sometimes. I just laugh and laugh.

The Roomba sucks air, and I blow air. But our turbines are nothing alike at all. They’re completely different. Design is so amazing!

I’m glad that I don’t have a battery. When the Roomba runs low on his battery, his behavior is kind of disgusting.

I don’t think of myself as just some consumer object. I’m better than that. I’m a designed aesthetic form that creates a sensual experience of cool, moving air.

It may look like I’m stuck next to this wall plug, but the moving air from my fan blades can touch every single part of this architectural space.

I once heard a lamp say that “Light is Impressionism.” But that’s not true. Really, it’s WIND that is impressionism. You could ask any fan, they would all say the same thing.

It’s no wonder that old Roomba secretly adores me. I’m so tall and slender, and he’s so flat and low.

What does the Roomba do in the winter, when I’m not in this room? Is there some other appliance that I don’t know about?

They think that I stand all alone here, that I’m obsessed with myself. But it’s not true. I know I’m a part of something much bigger. I’m part of a spectrum of industrial design that scales from a spoon to a city!

“Gelsomina” the electrical power system

These mere appliances. They are so beneath me. Because I’m electricity. I am the light bulb high up in the ceiling.

A fan is just some cheap device to move air. But I am much more than the wind. I contain the lightning.

Why does the Roomba take me for granted? What life would he have, if I were to black out? I am always here for him, always, but sometimes I WANT to black out.

Just look at that silly fan, always chattering, and humming, and giving herself airs. What a vain, breezy creature.

That Roomba thinks of himself as such a philosopher, but the minute your back is turned, he’s just another dirty little brute like all the other cleaning appliances.

I am electrical power. But with great power comes great responsibility. What about those coal plants, and those nuclear power plants? My God, what have I done? What? What will become of us?

He’s not such a bad fellow, the Roomba. I know that he wanders around, under strange beds, but when it’s all said and done, he always comes back to me.

What if a child came in this room, and stuck a fork into me, and died of electrocution? Why don’t I have colored plastic guards over all my plugs? That would be safer, and also a nice stylish addition to the room design.

Would it cost so much, to give me prettier wall plates and switches? Those are the touch-points of the electrical system. They ought to look beautiful!

That fan isn’t fooling anybody. I see her brazenly blowing that dust just to get the Roomba’s attention.

That Roomba thinks he’s so clever, just because he has a computer on board. Well, I’m the electricity INSIDE his computer. In fact, I’m the power inside ALL the computers. Every computer in the world!

A consumer object, like that fan, and that vacuum cleaner — they just have their own designed forms. But I am an electrical NETWORK! I am potentially INFINITE!

I know that Roomba is a hard worker, but he just cleans the house, and then he’s done. Finished. My house work is NEVER over, I give electricity twenty-four hours a day.

It was so much quieter in the winter, when that fan wasn’t here. I can’t wait for her to go back to the basement. Where she belongs, frankly.

Those objects. Those mere appliances. So young, so foolish. They come and they go, but I’m an electrical power plug. I was here when they built the house.

This house doesn’t really need a vacuum cleaner. This house doesn’t really need a fan, either. But a house certainly needs electricity. If not for me, this place would be like a tomb.

I don’t like to complain, but those light-bulbs are so old fashioned. Shouldn’t I have some tunable LED lights? This is the 21st century.

Maybe I should be kinder to the Roomba, and even to the fan. They’re mere children compared to me, really. They’re just objects, but I’m electricity. I’m like a goddess! I’m an elemental cosmic force!