The history of humanity is, among other things, the history of the progressive artificiality of the body. But also a long road to enriching our being with elements that are external to it. Which ultimately means nothing more than the creation of new artifacts and experiences designed to change our relationship with the surrounding context. Even if one just focuses on a historical period from the second industrial revolution to the new millennium, it is clear how the human body is the focus of the investigations, Projects and moments of exchange between areas of technological and scientific research and art and design contexts that explore methods and processes of the relationship between us and the environment that surrounds us.
The human body between neuroscience, biotechnology, AI, body hacking
In the last twenty years in particular, a growing number of institutions, media laboratories and research centers have been active in the field of neuroscience, biotechnology, AIBody hacking and prosthetics, as well as a new generation of artists and designers, are exploring more ethical ways of dialogue between us humans, our bodies and the environment in which we immerse ourselves. It’s all about the relationship between human and non-human entities, living and not livingthat develops the activity of these subjects, whose theoretical, creative and planning practice defines their characteristics Extended body which, once strictly defined, strives to open an interdisciplinary dialogue with practices, aesthetics and ideas from the most diverse contexts of contemporary culture. In my publications, research, interviews, essays, exhibitions and teaching activities, I have always tried to outline the character traits of artists and designers who move in this chaotic and indecipherable field of action that I have repeatedly addressed with this term New media art.
What is New Media Art?
That is, that set of practices and disciplines that are expressed in at least four main areas: the productive panorama of art and design, scientific research, the contexts of experimentation with technology and the contaminations with open source culture as well as the areas Politics and culture media activism. In such a complex scenario, it has been inevitable for me over the years to observe the emergence of a series of overlaps but also differences and contradictions in the practices, in the restitutions, in the training and in the experiences of very different subjects, in institutional and academic areas. and experts only appear to be distant. This is all the more true since the human body was the focal point of their speculations and borderline research, in relation to technoscience and in dialogue with the context. Based on this awareness, which comes from knowledge but also from the testimonies collected over time, it is possible for me to identify those areas of inquiry that contribute to outlining in the book the specificities of a number of artists and performers Designers whose works manifest themselves as a plastic representation of the extended body, for a new ecosophy of art that finds evidence and proof of its existence in their works.
The artists and the extended body
First of all, many of the artists I have interacted with over time take advantage of the possibilities of Technoscientific prosthesesimplanted not only outside but also inside the body, Therefore, it is able to transmit data and information inside and outside the organism. In addition, it is important for almost everyone to explore the emergence of new senses, that is, the elements of expansion not only of the body, but above all of perception, in which the nervous system and the brain play an essential role as centers for collection , control and activation of a specific sensory stimulus. The interaction between humans and machines is understood as a relationship between organic element and inorganic unit, but this is endowed with increasing autonomy and “intelligence”. Just as the relationship between humans and other species is analyzed by speculating about a future in which, thanks to biotechnology and genetics, new hybrid subjects will be able to activate unpredictable forms of dialogue and openness. Working on the body becomes a practice of radical experimentation for everyone, drawing inspiration from posthuman philosophy and open and DIY strategies. The techniques of access, use and exchange of technoscientific practices intersect with similar practices of hacking bodies and biological processes. Operations that absorb a strong identity component and that are reflected in a complex and layered production that is often involved ethical and political aspects. To conceive and design a series of formal and aesthetic components, activating narratives and reflections focused on the definition of a human being, ultimately conceived as an entity in non-hierarchical balance with the universe, human and non-human , that surrounds him.
The extended body between artistic avant-gardes and contemporary forms
The Expanded Body thus proves to be a place where art and design research meets in relation to the experiences of the avant-garde of the 20th century and in comparison with different movements Posthuman philosophical thought. Inspired by these, it opens up areas of research and non-binary interdisciplinary languages that transcend the boundaries of creation and design, focusing on the concept of pure human evolution, preferring instead aesthetic, narrative and formal practices that contribute to the processes to explore that define its non-hierarchical relationship to the surrounding context. Since, by virtue of his posture, the extended body is a unit capable of disassembling and reassembling its component parts without any limitation or “natural” integrity, he produces works that are never fully complete, in constant transformation and only partially emerge from an An idea or predefined image emerges and is brought to life through ongoing processes of things-in-phenomena. Understanding the complexity of the reality we immerse ourselves in and imagining new, non-hierarchical ways of relating to everything around us: other people, objects and other species.
CHIMERA. The expanded body for a new ecosophy of art.
Marco Mancuso, Mimesis Edizioni, 2023
Published on Friday, October 13th by Mimesis Edizioni
Marco Mancuso is a critic and curator. He is a professor at the Polytechnic of the Arts in Bergamo, a lecturer at the University of Bologna and a lecturer at the Node Center for Curatorial Studies in Berlin. He received his PhD in digital cultures from the Iuav University of Venice. He is interested in how interdisciplinary discourse observes the different ways in which technoscience influences society and the relationship between humans and the environment, while examining the evolution of the design, production and market dynamics of media art and digital art. He is the founder and leader of the Digicult project, partner of the EMAP/EMARE program and one of the founders of the SSH Study Center! – Sound Studies Hub of the IUAV of Venice.