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Incarnation and Transfiguration: Cyborg Art as an Image Practice

신승철 1

1Humboldt - Univ. zu Berlin

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Performance by Orlan and Stelarc is based on radical body modification. With the aid of prosthesis, they transfigure their body, and the posthuman proposition, “the body is obsolete” justifies their action. The cosmetic surgery of Orlan follows the instruction of Zeuxis. She has the brow from Mona Risa, the chin from Venus, the eyes from Psyche, and the lips from Europa through the act of 9 plastic surgeries. In this sort of image practice,‘becoming-image of body’ and ‘becoming-body of image’ can be observed. Images by old masters are embodied on her face, and this embodiment of image is involved in the invention of her identity. Stelarc tried to make his body empty by implanting the prosthesis. His body becomes fluid through the cables which penetrate it, and it is transfigured as “the body”, which is objective imagery. “The body” isn’t controled by his own will, but by multiple agents. So, it is not in the temporary and ephemeral body, but in the eternal image that he can manifest himself. The radical image practice of Orlan and Stelarc follows the long tradition of body art,insofar as it is involved in the modification and transformation of the body. On the one hand it follows a lesson by the artists who dedicate their body to art, and on the other it faces the anthropologic and posthuman task, that is to say the active reaction against conditio humana. In this context, Orlan’s and Stelarc’s body art takes over the magical function of image-representation, and it can manifest itself as an artistic form. Becomingimage of body and embodiment of image, which is obeserved in cyborg art, extends the idea of ‘body-image’, so that it covers not only image production about the body but also a wide range of image practices on the body.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.