Cyborg Futures: Stelarc
Location: Online programme
Would you share your deepest fears and desires with a cyborg? This is not a question from some science-fiction fantasy. In the future, the boundaries between man and machine will be more and more blurred. Bionic limbs and true-to-life, self-learning robots are just the tip of the iceberg called the future. What awaits us?
The IMPAKT web project Cyborg Futures investigates through online artworks, interviews and mini-lectures the role of cyborgs, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in our modern world.
Cyborg artist Stelarc is one of the artists we have asked to help us think about this. He has worked on these themes ever since the late 1960s, giving his body technological extensions and engaging in extreme interactions with machines. He has swallowed micro cameras to display the inside of his body, had a third ear surgically attached to his left arm, and placed himself in a harness so that the public could control his body remotely. Besides his presentation, the Cyborg Futures web project includes works and presentations by Klasien van de Zandschulp & Ali Eslami, Lancel/Maat, Simon Dogger, Monobanda, Wouter van Noort, Dan Hassler-Forest, Anneke Smelik and many other artists and speakers.
Today’s rapid developments in AI, robotics and science will make people more like machines and vice versa. Not only are we creating robots that are increasingly true-to-life, but we are attempting to move beyond the limits of our impermanent bodies with the help of technological upgrades. Who doesn’t want to live forever? But what if man and machine become so similar that we can no longer tell them apart? What would it be like to live in a world where technology and the organism have merged? How do we relate to robots and cyborgs that are taken for granted as part of society?
Cyborg Futures is a continuation of a Dutch-German partnership between the NRW Forum and IMPAKT, in collaboration with the Heartwire collective. The project is partly funded by the Dutch consulate in Düsseldorf and Creative Industries Fund NL.
Stelarc is a performance artist who has visually probed and acoustically amplified his body. He has made three films of the inside of his body. Between 1976-1988 he completed 26 body suspension performances with hooks into the skin. He has used medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, Virtual Reality systems, the Internet and biotechnology to engineer intimate and involuntary interfaces with the body. He explores Alternate Anatomical Architectures with augmented and extended body constructs. He has performed with a THIRD HAND, an EXTENDED ARM, a VIRTUAL ARM, a STOMACH SCULPTUREand EXOSKELETON, a 6-legged walking robot. His FRACTAL FLESH, PING BODY and PARASITE performances explored involuntary, remote and internet choreography of the body with electrical stimulation of the muscles. His PROSTHETIC HEAD is an embodied conversational agent that speaks to the person who interrogates it. He is surgically constructing an EXTRA EAR on his arm that will be internet enabled, making it a publicly accessible acoustical organ for people in other places. He is presently performing as his avatar from his SECOND LIFE site.