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Contestable Bodies: Zombies, Humanoids and Hybrids

Contestable Bodies: Zombies, Humanoids and Hybrids

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  • Sat 23 Apr ’16, 1:00pm


Kenneth Myers Centre, 74 Shortland Street, Auckland CBD


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission

A public lecture by acclaimed performance artist Stelarc.

Liminal spaces are proliferating in technological terrains of turbo and hyper machinery, generating ambivalence and anxiety about what a body is and how a body operates. The body becomes a floating signifier, becoming whatever it wants to become, in a multiplicity of forms and functions. Electronically etched and augmented, the body performs beyond the boundaries of its skin and beyond the local space that it inhabits. It becomes an extended operational system, performing remotely, involuntarily and with profound indifference, absent to its own agency. It becomes physically split with an extruded sense of self.

A radical emptiness permeates the human horizon, but with an emptiness generated not by a lack but rather through an excess of expectation. Technology is attached and is inserted inside the body as it becomes biocompatible in both substance and scale. And flesh is extracted and circulating. Body parts are exchanged. Hearts and hands are relocated and reanimated. A face on one body stitched to the skull of another, becomes a third face resembling neither. Your face, appropriated and animated by an alien nervous system becomes the face of the other.

A body with implants is a body that can be hacked, re-wired and re-purposed. Prosthetic Flesh becomes Fractal Flesh and Phantom Flesh. It is a time of alternate anatomical architectures, of Zombies, Humanoids and Hybrids. Being alive is now superseded by an artificial operational aliveness. What it means to be human is perhaps not to remain human at all.

Stelarc is a performance artist who uses medical technologies, prosthetics, robotics and virtual systems.

His projects have included amplifying and suspending his body:
- A Third Hand (EMG actuated prosthesis with a tactile feedback system)
- An Extended Arm (11 degree-of-freedom manipulator)
- Exoskeleton (6-legged locomotion actuated by arm gestures)
- A Prosthetic Head (embodied conversational agent that speaks to the person who interrogates it).

Ear On Arm is a surgically constructed and stem-cell grown ear that will be electronically augmented and internet enabled.

In 1996 he was made Honorary Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, and in 2002 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws, Monash University. Stelarc: The Monograph, was published by MIT Press in 2005. In 2010 he won the prestigious Ars Electronica Hybrid Arts Prize. In 2011, Stelarc began the Ambidextrous Arm project at Brunel University, London. In 2014 he initiated the Alternate Anatomies Lab. He is currently a Distinguished Research Fellow, School of Design and Art, Curtin University, Perth. He is represented by the Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne.

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