27 March 2019 @ 4:00 pm

Excess & Indifference: Alternate Anatomical Architecture

Performance artist Stelarc has described creative practitioners as being able to generate ‘contestable futures – possibilities that can be examined, evaluated, perhaps appropriated, often discarded.’ He is known for going to extremes in his own practice, experimenting with his body to examine how technology and the human body interact.

‘The body and the human are unstable constructs. 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 living bodies, operational machines and executable and viral code. The body becomes a chimera of meat, metal and code. Bodies are effectively end-effectors of extended operational systems, of replicating Fractal Flesh. Heads are electronically amputated and reconnected, excess limbs become accessible, as remote manipulators, and our senses are out-sourced online. We see and hear with other eyes and other ears from other places. Bodies become hosts for multiple and remote agents. Phantom Flesh proliferates generating alternate anatomical architectures. Phantoms now become increasingly physical. Phantoms not as phantasmatic, but rather as phantom limbs. In the liminal spaces of proliferating Prosthetic Bodies, Partial Life and Artificial Life, the body has become a floating signifier.’

Stelarc gave a forum talk about his creative practice on 27 March. A recording of the livestream is available below. Please note, viewer discretion is advised. The talk included images of surgical procedures and nudity.

A recording of Stelarc's forum talk. Please note, includes images of surgical procedures and nudity. Photo credit: Peter Cheng

Stelarc experiments with alternative anatomical architectures. He has performed with a Third Hand, a Stomach Sculpture and with 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 electronically augmented and internet enabled. Recent performances include ReWired / ReMixed that incorporates an outsourcing of his senses and a sharing of his agency.

In 1996 he was made an Honorary Professor of Art and Robotics, Carnegie Mellon University and in 2002 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Monash University. In 2010 he was awarded the Ars Electronica Hybrid Arts Prize. In 2015 he received the Australia Council’s Emerging and Experimental Arts Award. In 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Ionian University, Corfu. Between 20013-2018 he was a Distinguished Research Fellow at Curtin University. His artwork is represented by Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne.