Australian artist says the human body is obsolete

October 17, 2000

ANN ARBOR—On Nov. 2 at the University of Michigan, Australian artist Stelarc will confirm that the human body, as we now know it, is obsolete. The artist’s performance, “Zombies and Cyborgs: Absent, Involuntary and Automated Bodies,” will begin at 8 p.m. in U-M’s Rackham Auditorium. The performance is free and open to the public.

For more than 30 years Stelarc has been using his own body as a means to explore biological limitations and ways to extend and enhance the body through technology.

In an attempt to create a human-machine hybrid, Stelarc uses medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, virtual reality systems and the Internet. His performances have included a third hand, a virtual arm, a virtual body, and a stomach sculpture. The artist envisions a thoroughly prosthetic body no longer subject to the limits of human life. “Thus,” he says, “life would no longer commence with birth and end with death! Life would become a digital experience and no longer a development, a maturation and a decline as in an analog experience.”

Among Stelarc’s current projects are the Extra Ear—a surgically constructed ear as an additional facial feature that, coupled with a wearable computer, acts as an Internet antenna able to hear Real Audio sounds; Movatar—an intelligent avatar that performs in the real world by possessing a physical body; Extended Arm—that extends the artist’s arm to primate proportions; and Motion Prosthesis—an intelligent compliant servo-mechanism that enables the performance of precise, repetitive and fast programming of the arms.

Stelarc’s performance at U-M is supported by the Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Visitors Fund at U-M’s School of Art and Design and the U-M College of Engineering.

StelarcExtra EarSchool of Art and Design