Meta.Morf 2018 – Dangerous Futures
Stelarc (AUS) @Dokkhuset, Friday May 4 & Saturday May 5, 2018
See full program here.

Devious Machines, Phantom Glitches

1. The Cadaver is reanimated, the Comatose is reawakened, the Cryogenic is revived, the Chimera is reimagined. And the Prosthetic Body is propelled into terminal trajectories. The dead, the near-dead, the brain dead, the yet to be born, the partially living and synthetic life all now share a material and proximal existence, with other bodies, machines and viral code.

3. Bodies become end-effectors of extended operational systems. Heads are amputated, excess limbs become accessible, senses are out-sourced. A rewired synesthesia not through the cross-wiring in one body, but a synesthesia experienced through the cross-wiring of senses from other bodies elsewhere. Telematically prompted, bodies are simultaneously possessed and performing. The Schizoid Body becomes the Split Body.

4. As computational systems become smarter, the best strategy is for our defective and dumb bodies to become increasingly more dismissive. To act impulsively, without constraint, to act intuitively, without anticipation and to act with sublime indifference, without expectations. Beyond intelligence and beyond affect. As alternate anatomical architectures.

5. Phantoms proliferate online. Phantoms become increasingly physical. Phantoms not as phantasmatic, but as phantom limbs. Phantoms as haptic interfaces. Phantoms flicker on and off as glitches in biological time. In the liminal spaces of proliferating Prosthetic Bodies, Partial Life and Artificial Life, the body has become a floating signifier.

6. Skins have collapsed onto screens. I caress your skin, I caress my screen. Wetware is flattened and stretched onto the smooth surface of glassware and embedded silicon chip circuitry. The space of screens is the realm of abstract information and extended scales beyond our subjectivity. Screens now have both optical and haptic thickness. Screens become fluid, interactive surfaces. The self is extruded, a radical emptiness emptiness is generated, not through lack but rather through an excess of its hyperlinks.

7. Bodies are now dissolving into circulating data streams of detached and distributed bio-data – embedded in vast machine systems of computational calculation, artificial and alien cognition. The monster is no longer the outmoded stitched up meat body, but the system that sucks the self into virtuality. What it means to be human is perhaps not to remain human at all at a time of digital contamination of the body’s micro-biome. The pathological, the perverse and the monstrous become the poetic promise of the Phantom and of the Chimera. Fractal Flesh proliferates.


Photo: Ear On Arm, Venice International Performance Art Week 2016. Photographer – Piero Viti. Stelarc.

Stelarc (AUS) explores alternate anatomical architectures, interrogating issues of agency, identity and the posthuman. He has performed with a Third Hand, a Stomach Sculpture and Exoskeleton, a 6-legged walking robot. Fractal Flesh, Ping Body and Parasite are internet performances that explore remote and involuntary choreography. He is surgically constructing and stem-cell growing an ear on his arm that will be internet enabled. In 1996 he was made an Honorary Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh and in 2002 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Monash University, Melbourne. In 2010 was awarded the Ars Electronica Hybrid Arts Prize. In 2015 he received the inaugural Australia Council’s Emerging and Experimental Arts Award. In 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Ionian University, Corfu. Stelarc is currently a Distinguished Research Fellow, School of Design and Art, Curtin University. His artwork is represented by Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne.