Friday, 6 August 2010

Is the body obsolete? Pondering AOM's Stelarc Collaboration

One Heart, Four Brains Installation in Second Life

The Avatar Orchestra Metaverse was invited a few weeks ago by Franziska Schroeder to participate in a collaborative performance with the Australian performance artist Stelarc. This mixed reality performance will take place at the Digital Resources for the Humanities and the Arts Conference at Brunel University in the UK on September 5, 2010, with the Orchestra projected from Second Life.

Stelarc's views are compelling and provocative. "The body is obsolete", spoken by a Stelarc-voice robot in various realities and performances, has been running through my head as we work out the details of the collaboration. 

Today, I watched a video of a TED talk by Aimee Mullins, a young woman with an amazing spirit, and without biological lower legs. Like Stelarc, she talks about how altered we already are, with replaced hips, eyeglasses, hearing aids, blood transfusions, enhanced breasts and lips. We are already hybrids, we are already part machine, part biology. "The only disability is a crushed spirit", says Aimee. 

Stelarc has used, tested, experimented with and enhanced his physical body in so many ways. He has fused it with mechanical and organic devices. I find myself wondering what is physical about working in the virtual world, without a clear and direct physical sense of presence or connection to the living body in the intention of the practice. The Avatar Orchestra tends toward a cerebral focus. Mental tele-presence, with resulting beautiful yet elusive worlds. Disembodied.

One Heart, Four Brains Installation with particle emissions (particles by Bingo Onomatopeia)

How is it that we feel our real hearts beating while playing with virtual sounds and images? Does our heart change from this work, this experiment? Does our skin change, do our eyes change, does our brain change?

Pauline Oliveros, also involved in this collaboration, maintains that yes, our brains are evolving and changing rapidly with our use of technology. I agree with her.

I also believe that there is no such thing as a distinction between "natural" and "synthetic". Unless we have been beamed in from some other planet, some other world, it is true to say that machines come from the same place we do, the same place radishes and granite and gray wolves do. And our creations are changing us.


Anonymous said...

Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.................................................

Anonymous said...

We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull, Some have weird names , and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box ...................................................................