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Bodies in Flux – Presentation at Scandal in Culture, Wroclaw 2011

Wroclaw conference with Aisa & Sam

This is a transcript of the presentation I originally gave at the NIEA Experimental Arts conference at UNSW, and then re-presented at the Scandal in Culture Conference in Wrocław, Poland. There will soon be a peer reviewed journal of the conference published, in which I’ve contributed a full article.

The definition of what constitutes as a body has long been debatable within metaphysics. However, it’s potential for extension with technology for enhancement of human interaction and perception aided by machines is only six decades old if we begin to count from the Macy Conferences on Cybernetics that took place between 1943-1954. The specific reasons and variations for those wishing to engage in these practices are numerous, and however recent, I argue that the acts themselves are derived from and are motivated by ancient body modification rituals. Bloody Machine, my performance piece, specifically appropriates the motif of the human figure physically plugged into the machine. This is a common trope amongst contemporary sci-fi and has been made famous by films and comics such as Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell franchise and The Matrix. The outcomes of technological addition to the body in such texts almost always renders the wearer ‘superior’ to that of a normal human being, the conclusions being that machines are stronger then humans and their union benefits both parties. However in Bloody Machine, I wished to subvert these assumptions and perhaps highlight their ultimate vulnerability. (Continue…)

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