14 September 2012 by Jason Goodyer
The exhibition looks at the world of human enhancement and the far-reaching field of transhumanism, a cultural movement advocating the advancement of human capabilities through the use of technology. Rapid developments in nanotechnology, biotechnology and cognitive science are forcing us to reassess what it means to be human, its proponents say, and the line between man and machine is becoming ever more blurred. But will the day come when implanted microchips and computer/brain interfaces are as commonplace as hearing aids and contact lenses are now? And where, if at all, should we draw the line? We are after all, the curators argue, already living in an age of human enhancement.
Transhumanism currently exists in a curious overlapping interdisciplinary space where aspects of art, science and philosophy collide, intermingle and coalesce into strange new concepts and ideas. For those who want to get further into the nuts and bolts of transhumanism a video discussion bringing together some of the foremost thinkers in the field screened near the exhibition's entrance is as good a place to start as any.
Moving on to the exhibition proper leads to displays of the usual suspects from science fiction and fantasy - Blade Runner's replicants, super hero comics, etc, and sports-based items (energy drinks, running shoes, news clipping of doping stories and the prosthetic running blades made famous by Oscar Pistorius). Scattered throughout these, however, are a series of fascinating films investigating various aspects of transhumanism and enhancement. Amongst them are Floris Kaayk's Metalosis Meligna and Dorothy Cross' Eyemaker, as well as work by big names such as Mohsen Makhmalbaaf and Matthew Barney, whose Cremaster 3 is the undoubted visual highpoint of the exhibition.
Cremaster 3 stars Aimee Mullins, a Paralympian, model and double amputee born with fibula hemimelia, a condition affecting the development of the calf bones. Mullins appears throughout the film in a series of different identities each demarked by the use of a different set of prosthetic legs. The film's rich imagery and slow pace give it an almost mesmeric effect though it can be difficult to figure out exactly what Barney is getting at thanks to the frequently arcane symbolism.
Similarly ghoulish is the story of Kevin Warwick. Professor of robotics at Reading University, Warwick has declared himself the first cyborg after implanting electronic devices linking his nervous system to a computer. And if the growing movement of 'grinders', DIY biohackers who self-implant magnets, sensors and other items into their bodies in garages, kitchens and basements, is anything to go by he's not short of kindred spirits.
Interspersed throughout is a grab bag of sundry items including eyeglasses, contraceptive implants, an ancient Egyptian prosthetic toe from 600 BC, and the wonderfully captioned 'ivory dildo in the form of an erect penis, complete with contrivance for simulating ejaculation' which itself dates back to the 16th century.
Despite all of the weird and wonderful objects on display perhaps the most intimidating installation is found at the end of the exhibition - a floor length mirror inviting attendees to, literally and figuratively, reflect on what they have just seen and how it affects or may yet affect them.
Edited: 14 September 2012 at 11:18 AM by Jason Goodyer
Posted By: Jason Goodyer @ 14 September 2012 10:55 AM General
18 September 2012 by suhad jehad
|Posted By: suhad jehad @ 18 September 2012 09:22 AM : Post a reply|
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