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Themesicon: navigation pathCyborg Bodiesicon: navigation pathEditorial
Cyborg Bodies. The End of the Progressive Body.
Yvonne Volkart


In order to examine the specific contribution art makes to the discourses on future bodies and subjects, the point of departure of this topical focus are the artistic reflections on and realizations of cyborgs. Cyborgs here are not only cybernetic organisms, i.e. link-ups between humans and machines, as they are commonly defined. Rather they generally denote fantasies about hybrid, monstrous, machine-like, cloned, digital, networked, cellular or transgendered bodies. Thus «Cyborg Bodies» essentially encompasses all of those notions in which the body is considered to be something put together, artificial, and new.

«Cyborg Bodies» assumes that new (media) technologies influence our body and its perception (not only in the present, but also in the past), that the body and its rights are grossly at the disposal of others, and that media art is an important place at which these questions can be thought about using a variety of media. Although the end of the body and the human is no longer being blaringly postulated or feared today as it was in the course of the debates on the so-called «posthuman» at the beginning of the nineties, the issue has not yet come to a close. The discussions and


fantasies have simply changed. While the machine-like and cosmetically optimized technobody was predicted more than 20 years ago, in recent years notions of biotic, cellular, networked, emergent and dynamic body entities and communicating flows of information have increasingly emerged. What these notions have in common is that the body is a set of interacting codes that has been wired up. The approach of «Cyborg Bodies» is based on theories developed by the American biology theorist Donna Haraway [QT]. Her cyborg figure is not only a technoid mixture of human and machine, rather it epitomizes all of those beings whose conventional boundaries between natural and artificial, animate and inanimate, are no longer accurate. To Haraway, cyborgs are both humans with prostheses as well as organic data carriers (humans or animals) who communicate with more or less intelligent surroundings. They are unicellular organisms, biotechnically mutated mice or humans exploited by the globalized technoindustry. Haraway has even bent this current variety of composite and combinable bodies and subjectivities into a thought figure for notions of the subject beyond conventional gender

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