DU ER HER: Forskningsprojektet » Aktiviteter » Jacob Wamberg Stelarc

Jacob Wamberg Stelarc

Toward a Split Physiology? On Stelarc’s Performances

Jacob Wamberg, University of Aarhus, Denmark

College Art Association Conference i Atlanta, d. 18/2- 2005.

A recurrent theme in the performances of the Australian artist Stelarc is the interaction between his (yet) human body and diverse technological prostheses such as a third hand, a robotic hexapod, avatars and a computer generated talking head. According to Stelarc these interactions explore an emerging posthuman culture in which the human body is becoming obsolete and in which, accordingly, it should be opened towards artificially generated organs. This cyborgian vision implies a part-wise handing-off of autonomy, turning the body into what Stelarc terms an advantageously ‘split physiology’. In this voluntary involuntariness the authenticity of the body is not founded in its individuality but in the multiplicity of remote agents for which the body acts as a host.

In my paper I want to follow this line of inquiry further, combining it with ideas by, among others, Marshall McLuhan, Deleuze and Guattari, and Eduardo Kac. Stelarc’s interest in technology as prosthesis for the body could first of all be seen as a rather concrete parallel to McLuhan’s ideas of media as extensions of man, not least electric media as extensions of the brain and central nervous system. If one accepts Arthur Kroker’s reading of postmodern French philosophy as mainly an exploration of technology’s effects on culture, then Stelarc’s idea of a split physiology controlled part-wise by remote agents in an open network could furthermore be compared with Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of a de-subjectivized Body-without-Organs plugged into a huge machine of desire. Finally, considering Stelarc’s very idea of remote agents controlling his body, it is revealing to include Eduardo Kac’s  thoughts on telepresence, the ability to manipulate reality through remote hosts – hosts who in Stelarc become bodily rather than just technological.

Although Stelarc conceives of an actual cyborgian meeting of technology and organism, one must still note that his actual performance practice is marked by a striking contrast between his naked body and the technological devices he explores – a contrast indicating that his performances are more metaphoric than actually functional. If this effect secures that they belong to the artistic rather than the technological sphere, I should still maintain that Stelarc strives toward the functional and operational, and that he hereby places himself in an avant-garde tradition aiming at a fusion of art and life.

Henvendelse om denne sides indhold: 
Revideret 17.02.2010