Performance Artist Stelarc Uses Biohacks to Hint at Humans’ Possible Future


Artist Stelarc is known for often going to extremes in his performance pieces. Typically using his own body as a canvas, he seeks to expand the possibilities of experience and capacities of the human body by incorporating technology. Examples of some of his past projects include the “Ear on Arm” project in which a cell-cultivated, biocompatible structure in the shape of an ear was surgically implanted on his left arm. Stelarc hoped to later implant a small microphone with wireless connectivity, which would allow for anyone with an internet connection to listen in on what the ear was hearing at any time. More descriptions of Stelarc’s work from an interview with Wired:

Stelarc tends to describe his art using the nuts and bolts of engineering language. “As an artist, you want to construct an interface or engineer an interface,” he said. “To actually experience it, and thereby articulate something meaningful about it. It’s not simply speculating about a future.”

One particularly striking example of a Stelarc interface was the work Ping Body, in which he wired himself to the internet — quite literally — by attaching electrodes to various muscles, which could then be activated by remote users.

Many of Stelarc’s projects involve connecting his body to a global, distributed awareness.

“So for example,” he said, “today I might decide to see with the eyes of someone in London, hear with the ears of someone in Montreal, whilst my left arm is remotely prompted by someone in Tokyo to perform a task here in San Francisco. So imagine a sensory experience that is not bound by one particular location, or bound by the skin or senses of this particular body.”

Read more of the interview here and see more of Stelarc’s past projects and performances on his site here.

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