With technology and science advancing so rapidly, the perceptions on humans have changed as we no longer know what is natural or cultural, or as Rosi Braidotti (2013) claims, displaced and to a large extent blurred. Artists such as Stelarc, Patrick Tresset and Alex Kiessling, challenges our understanding of human identity and cultural values through the use of technological representations and enhancements of the human body, employing new forms and touching on the topic of post humanism.
Third Hand Project – Stelarc
In Stelarc’s Third Hand Project (1980 onwards), he explores the speculation of a futuristic human form where he created a mechanical arm that could be attached to the body and function similarly to his original arm that could also sense touch. Conveying the potentiality of technologies and machines, Stelarc (1995) declares ‘are much more precise and powerful than the body’, he challenges the traditional body form by redesigning and enhancing it. This evoked forms of cultural anxiety and fundamental questions about the natural human form within the audience as the global understanding of a radical human structure is of two arms and two legs. The cultural value of a human life is also questioned as it is shown that technology can be used to replace or added to the body for maintenance, depicting a desire for the transcendence of the body and escape from death (Clarke, 2002).
Aikon II – Patrick Tresset and Frederic Fol Leymarie
Patrick Tresset and Frederic Fol Leymarie’s Aikon II (2008-12) is a research project based on the understanding and modelling of a human’s face and how we as humans, perceive the world visually. They aimed to produce a system that could give an emotional and aesthetic effect on viewers through the performing act of drawing. Giving Paul, the robotic arm, human characteristics of drawing, the artists have challenged the element of human replacement with the sharing of our identities. Tresset has incorporated his drawing skills within Paul to have it as a replacement when he is no longer able to draw. The robotic arm represents an artificial human form that could enhance our lives and help replace ourselves when we are no longer able to complete tasks, like a helping hand within society. Thus, portraying the way we perceive the world through drawings, the artists have incorporated our qualities within a technological form, challenging our natural human abilities to complete tasks as we only have one self.
Long Distance – Alex Kiessling
In Alex Kiessling’s ‘Long Distance’, he creates an art piece that could be done in three cities simultaneously, distributing his identity through robots. This challenges the ability of humans as we are only able to conduct one activity at a time and the ways our identity can be represented. With the cloning of himself through robotic forms in different places, Kiessling challenges his identity as a human and has crossed over with forms of robotic identities. As Alex Kiessling (2013) says ‘It appeared to me in working with the machines that it was less about a kind of copy and more like a clone”. Touching on the topic of post humanism, Kiessling was in a state of being simultaneously one thing and another (Clarke, 2002). Challenging the human identity with technology, the Austrian artist portrays the intelligence within a human working with technology, and a different way human identity can be represented as.
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- Braidotti, R. (14 October 2013). The Posthuman. John Wiley & Sons.
- Leymarie, F. F., Tresset, P., & Burton, E. (2012). Robot drawing and human engagement. InProceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Human-Friendly Robotics.
- Leymarie, F. F., Tresset, P. (2013) Portrait drawing by Paul the robot, p. 348-363.
- Spivack, R. (2011) The human touch of a robot’s hand. Retrieved from http://poptech.org/blog/patrick_tressett_and_frederic_fol_leymarie_the_human_touch_of_a_robots_hand
- Zolfagharifard, E. (2013). Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2433471/Artist-Alex-Kiesslings-Long-Distance-uses-robots-copy-painting.html
- Ross, P. (2013) http://www.isciencetimes.com/articles/6145/20130930/robot-art-austria-alex-kiessling-robotic-machine.htm