Transhumanism in the Hyperreal

Stelarc Evolution

Stelarc drawing with a robot arm.

Last night I was on WREK radio with the Sci-Fi Lab guys and the topic of the “2-Minute Madness” segment was transhumanism.  You can hear it HERE (for two weeks).  While my radio co-hosts expressed their opinions I considered what I might say: What does transhumanism mean to me (self), or better yet, what does it mean to ART?

The performance art of Stelarc came to mind.  Stelarc explores actual-virtual interfaces, where his gestures navigate and actuate his avatar in Second Life.  Virtual objects are mapped with the artist’s amplified body signals and sounds that are triggered by the avatar as it interacts in the virtual space. The performance actuates and animates an avatar to generate a sense of aliveness.

Glyph Graves recently created a Kinect (Xbox) hack to link his real world facial expressions to dynamic sculpture in Second Life (Wagner Au covered it HERE).  Glyph offered to give me a tour in SL but different time zones (and schedules) prevented this from happening.

Transhumanism fundamentally transforms the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.  Transhumanist thinkers predict that we may eventually be able to transform ourselves into beings with such “greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label ‘posthuman’.”  Transhumanist artists use diverse technologies with the sentiment that the more effective the high-tech-ness, the more the work transcends its hardware.  Personally, I tend to side with the artists (but of course).  I don’t see why we need to transcend being human.  In fact, I think the high tech is merely an extension of our humanness…

As Transhumanist Arts come into focus 
As more artists join our efforts
As more designs are produced
As more music is composed
As more stories are written
As the tools and ideas of our art continue to evolve, 
So too shall we. – Natasha Vita-More

Transhumanist artists are developing new and varied modes of art.  Extropic art is in the same vein of creation.  Their aesthetics and expressions are merging with science and technology in designing increased sensory experiences. Virtual reality extends this development and extends the “self”.

Art & the Avatar

My entry, "Art & the Avatar," for the PBS Art21 blog, 2010.

The avatar is the source of this type of human extension.  In Second Life my avatar is ME (my virtual self) and all who interact with my avatar in-world are interacting with me (the essence of me) in real life.

In virtual 3D worlds, artists release conceptions of self and extend perceptions of self beyond real life, material, superficial, or traditional ideas.  The 3D avatar represents the human or a fantasy-based representation of a person’s self that can constantly be altered or changed.  Artists explore these representations in their work, often using their avatar as art, or as part of an artwork, adding to it, or using it to perform.  – Art & the Avatar

I’ll revise this paragraph:  In virtual 3D worlds artists CAN release conceptions of self and MOST ALWAYS extend perceptions of self beyond real life.  I choose not to release my conception of self.  I prefer the extension which leads me back to transhumanism.


Stitched 360 panorama from SL, for Argon, the AR browser.

When my turn came I spoke about creating a 360-degree panorama for Argon, an Augmented Reality (AR) browser.  I used my SL avatar as the single-point camera source to generate the panorama, so that when people view it in Argon via their mobile devices they are actually viewing the virtual 3D art simulation through my avatar’s eyes.  They, too, become my avatar, by proxy.  Of course this is only the beginning… I want to take this further into Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and other serious games.  In the meantime, I am also exploring this type of AR “art” as an aesthetic object that can influence social and cultural change: how we live and who we are.

  1. Transhumanism in the Hyperreal « SL Art HUD Blog Thingie: | Metaverse NewsWatch |

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