Future Of Art

DIFFERENT REALITIES HAVE BECOME PART AND PARCEL OF OUR LIVES TODAY. WE NOT ONLY INHABIT BIOLOGICAL BODIES BUT ALSO LIVE SUPPORTED BY MACHINES THAT MANAGE THE DATA STREAM IN THE VIRTUAL SYSTEMS TO WHICH WE ARE CONNECTED. IT IS THIS CHIMERA OF MEAT, METAL AND CODE THAT IS NOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN, AND IS THE SYSTEM THAT PRODUCES ART.

The biological body is inadequate for inhabiting the technological terrain it has itself engineered. Exploring alternative anatomical architectures enhanced and amplified by computing power has therefore become a post-evolutionary imperative. Using the internet like an external nervous system, the body lives embedded in other bodies, creating a whole new hybrid synthesis, a virtual entity expressed as a bodily concept. In other words, the body is becoming an extended operational system. So, to exist as an intelligent agent you need to be both embodied and embedded in the world.

CIRCULATING FLESH

We live in an age when organs can be produced and modified. Limbs detached from a dead body can be reanimated on a living body. Cryogenically suspended bodies await reanimation in some imagined future. The dead, the near-dead, the not-yet born and the partially living now exist simultaneously. If body parts can be stem-cell grown or organ-printed, then organs will be in abundance. Instead of printing with colored ink, we will be able to print with living cells - layer by layer on biodegradable paper. It is now possible to print a 5 cm long section of an artery in approximately one hour. The printed tissue will then need to be incubated and nourished, allowing the printed cell globules to self-organize. With the proliferation of Bioprinters it will be possible to repair and replace tissue, muscles and organs without rejection by the immune system. It will not be necessary to harvest organs from cadavers or donor bodies. There will be Organs Without Bodies. A biological body, enhanced by technology and managing data streams in virtual systems. Embodied agents can be actualized as Prosthetic Heads, Partial Heads, Walking Heads, Articulated Heads and Swarming Heads. Liminal spaces proliferate, blurring what it means to be a body and questioning whether it is any longer meaningful to remain human. Perhaps what it means to be human is not to remain human at all.

SCULPTURE IN STOMACH (1993)

A sculpture was designed to be installed inside my body. When it was in place, it opened and closed, extended and retracted, and had a flashing light and made a beeping sound. A machine, designed not for a public area but for a private, physiological space.

PROSTHETIC HEAD (2003)

The Prosthetic Head  is an embodied conversational agent that speaks to the person who interrogates it with real-time lip-synching, speech synthesis and facial expressions. A kind of digital portrait of the artist, its creative capabilities include generating its own poetry and song-like sounds, which are different every time it is asked to perform.

EAR ON ARM (2006)

I currently have an extra ear which is being developed on my left arm. A feature that actually belongs to the face has thus been replicated and relocated and will now be rewired for alternatative capabilities. An alternative anatomical architecture, a publicly accessible, mobile,  acoustical organ.

MICROROBOT (2010)

A small but powerful insect-like robot is being developed that will be able to crawl over my tongue and into my mouth. A camera will be mounted on it so that its performance can be circulated on the internet.

CONTROVERSIAL FUTURES

We live in an age of gene mapping, organ pirating and nervous system theft. An age of Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Lives and Androids. Art in such an age is about generating controversial futures that can be experienced, examined, appropriated, but most often ruled out. It is more about imagination than utility. Art can be surprising, sometimes shocking. Technology can amplify the impact of art and make it more viral. Art can be replicated and transmitted more rapidly and more extensively than ever before. There will be an increasing diversification of art media. We are increasingly expected to perform with Mixed Realities. Not simply our biological bodies but bodies supported by machines that manage the data stream in the Virtual Systems to which we are connected. And this chimera of meat, metal and code is what it now means to be human and is the system that produces art. New instruments generate unexpected information and images of the body and its world. Art is an expression of our cultural and technological histories. Art will be living (Bioart), Art will be global (Internet Art), Art will be invisible (Nano Art), Art will be virtual (Second Life performances). Artists and dancers have already performed in micro-gravity and even in Zero G. And artworks have been sent into outer space. Artists will print with living cells to Rapid Prototype animal and human tissue. When we can Bioprint and hold and feel the twitching biomass that has orifices that sigh and scream, we will then be able to more adequately and potently question what it means to be alive and to be human. Increasingly, artists are more like architects who design their interactive installations but require assistance with programming and engineering. Today’s artists are more like philosophers than craftsmen. More and more, performances will involve bodies augmented with prosthetics and extended by robotic machines.  And perhaps when we have taught robots how to do creative things, humans will then be able to focus on the more important things in life.

INFO

Stelarc explores alternative anatomical architectures. His recent publications include Stelarc: The Monograph, (MIT Press, 2005). He is currently Chair in Performance Art at Brunel University, West London, and Senior Research Fellow at MARCS Auditory Labs, University of Western Sydney in Australia. In 2010 he was awarded the Ars Electronica Hybrid Arts Prize. Stelarc’s artwork is represented by Scott Livesey Gallerıes, Melbourne.