The rapidly evolving technological world continues to blur the line between the human and the machine with ‘cyborgs’ further polarizing society the more prevalent they become. The interface between man and machine has therefore become an attractive avenue for many media artists to explore.
Stelarc, a self proclaimed ‘performance artist’, has acoustically amplified and probed his own body, enabling him to perform works that included an extended arm, virtual arm, third hand, stomach sculpture, exoskeleton, a prosthetic head along with a walking 6 legged robot. Stelarc is currently surgically producing an extra ear on his forearm that will possess internet access, making it an acoustical organ available to the public. His performances entitled ‘Parasite’, ‘Ping Body’, ‘Fractal Flesh’ consisted of exploring involuntary internet and remote choreography of the body with electrical stimulation of the muscles. Stelarc is currently touring and performing ‘Movatar’, a work that enables him to perform as his own avatar from his ‘second life’ website.
MOVATAR is an inverse motion capture system. Instead of a body animating a computer entity, it allows an avatar to perform within the real world in possessing a physical body. The ‘motion prosthesis’ interface, which wraps around the upper torso has only ‘3-degrees-of-freedom’ for each arm but can produce up to 64 possible arrangements. The body is split from torso and legs. Whilst the arms are stimulated by the avatar’s code, the legs are free to move, turn and press floor sensors that can in turn control the avatar’s behaviour. Alterations in mutation, rythm and complexity of posture strings, for example, can be affected. The ‘motion prosthesis’ can be likened to the ‘avatars muscles’ within the real world. Unlike his work ‘Fractal Flesh’, which consists of the body becoming a host for a remote alien agent (person in another place) ‘Movatar’ actually enables/requires the body to share its agency with an artificial unit. It mechanically replicates the human through form and limb movements and moreover capable of evolving behaviour.
Peep Show (2007)
Giles Walker is a kinetic sculptor that has been recycling the industrial waste from contemporary society into fully functioning robotic systems for 20 years. One of his most infamous works entitled ‘Peepshow’ (2007), consists of a duo of pole dancing robots that hace CCTV cameras for heads. The inspiration behind the concept is Walkers ideology that society is “living in a peepshow.. continually being watched by mechanical peeping Toms on every street corner”. With desires to satirically express this concern, Walker decided t experiment in asserting sex appeal to a CCTV camera through utilising rudimentary mechanics such as V12 windscreen wiper motors as well as a computer and DMX program, moreover extending the humour in confronting the audience with “a turn on” of sorts…
Rauschers 2009 work entitled ‘Zeugen’ consists of 32 human cast faces rigged with a robotic device for face tracking. The interactive pieces concept involves ‘seeing and being seen’, with the lifeless 64 eyes eerily following audience members around the room, with eyelids that instantaneously lift when approached, providing a ‘reflexive interactive experience’. Generated through voluntary body casting sessions along with methods of mechatronics, robotics and fine arts, the project is currently in its third phase of development.
Anon, 2016. Interview with Artist and Roboticist Giles Walker | Make:. [online] Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers. Available at: <http://makezine.com/2013/04/25/maker-faire-uk-interview-with-artist-giles-walker/> [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].
Anon, 2016. [online] Available at: <http://morganrauscher.com/morganrauscher/portfolio/zeugen-v1/> [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].
Adam Ford (2012) Stelarc – art, design, future of man. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1SPish8ZwQ (Accessed: 19 September 2016).
Curtin University (2014) Zombies, Cyborgs & Chimeras: A talk by performance artist, prof Stelarc. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqtiM1hK6lU (Accessed: 19 September 2016).
Wardrip-Fruin, N. and Montfort, N. (eds.), p.69-82, (2003) The new media reader. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.