Digital Technologies In Art Stelarc, Patricia Piccinini And Zaha Hadid

2860 words - 11 pages

Since its advent, digital technology has impacted all aspects of our lives, from the environments around us to the way we think and act. Since art is fundamentally a product of its place and time, it is not surprising then, that this type of technology, like any other development, has changed art altogether. Newer and newer technologies have opened up new ways of approaching the creation of art, new materials to work with and new ideas to explore, among many other things. Stelarc and Patricia Piccinini are two contemporary artists who have incorporated technology and explored its impacts and developments through their artworks, and Zaha Hadid is a contemporary architect who utilises technology to design and construct her buildings.
Stelios Arcadiou, a.k.a. Stelarc, is primarily a contemporary performance artist, but is as much a philosopher or social theorist. He has performed a range of works involving machinery in some way, usually being attached to him in the form of appendages, such as with his Third Hand (various performances), or via a cable hook up such as in Ping Body (first performed 1996). Stelarc’s work deals mainly with the relationship of the human body and technology, or the fusion of ‘meat’ and the ‘machine’. He sees technology as having always been “an appendage of the body” in terms of its function as an extension of the senses. He develops his work in regard to the idea that “the body is obsolete” ; that is, the development of science and technology has outstripped the capability of our own anatomical functions. Rather than pursue the ergonomic adaptation of technology to suit our construction, or even the full extra-body immersion of humanity into cyberspace, Stelarc is a strong proponent of the view that the only way forward is the full amalgamation of both meat and machine in the one body.
To explore this notion, Stelarc is involved in two types of work – extension and involition. Extension works such as Handswriting (1982) and Exoskeleton (1998) involve incorporation of technology in its literal function as an appendage of the body. In Handswriting, Stelarc attaches a robotic third arm (a signature motif used in many of his performances) to his right arm, which is made functional as he contracts and relaxes the muscles on his back, managing to write the word EVOLUTION on a glass wall with all three hands simultaneously. Through this act he achieves more than was possible with two. Involuntary body works such as Fractal Flesh (1995) and Ping Body (1996) take on a remarkably different tone, involving, as the name dictates, a loss of control of ordinarily voluntary actions and muscle movements. In Ping Body, muscle stimulators were connected to various parts of his body, which were then hooked up via a computer and modem to the internet. In this performance, the ping values (time delay of information relay) generated by the ebb and flow of data sent stimulation to the muscles in his body, resulting in a spasmodic, uncontrolled...

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