Monographie complète et détaillée de l'oeuvre de l'artiste, ce livre est un bon moyen de comprendre son travail tout en lui donnant à la fois une interprétation écrite et un support iconographique pour rendre compte des performances de l'artiste. Je recommande vivement malgré le léger défaut de l'emploi permanent du noir et blanc pour les photographies qui fait perdre un peu de porté aux oeuvres.
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glittering vision of a transhumanist future15 mai 2007
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In the early 80s, I brought Stelarc to speak at Caltech. He showed up with a mechanical third arm and a collection of slides. He proceeded to declaim at length about his previous art performances throughout the world, and his vision of what his performances were meant to convey to a lay audience. Then, I recently ran across this book, with a foreword by William Gibson, no less.
It is a collection of essays by various intellectuals, revolving around analysing Stelarc. His worldview is presented. A different approach from that epitomised in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Kapek's RUR, Saberhagen's Berserkers or the Terminator movies. Those echo the fear of a machine, born of man, that turns against humans. Instead, Stelarc's view is much cheerier. He is a performance artist, whose exhibitions are physical metaphors that suggest a peaceful evolution of humans, where we incorporate technological items into or perhaps on or around our bodies. He draws a distinction between Darwinian evolution, where obsolescence can mean extinction. Instead, any differences between us and machines are elided, as we absorb what they can offer, to exhance and extend our capabilities.
To some this is repulsive. To others, it is a glittering vision of a transhumanist future. Where we can someday (soon?) overcome the limitations of frail flesh. The book has echoes of views espoused by Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil. Though it does not go so far as to posit a technological singularity in the near future.
The photos in the book show Stelarc's remarkable talent. He has exhibited in Tokyo, Copenhagen, London and many other places since the 1980s. In many of the photos, he is naked, but adorned with some strange electromechanical gizmo, that has some type of feedback with his body. (When he spoke at Caltech, he was fully clothed.) Other photos show him dangling by many fish hooks through his skin. In one instance, one storey above a city street.
At least one chapter comments on the irony of his exhibitions. While he speaks of a metaphor of transcending the human form, his very nakedness starkly emphasises that form.
Of course, when he first did his exhibitions, all he could provide were rough metaphors. Limited by the crude mechanical devices of the time. But as microminiturisation proceeds, and as genetic engineering takes on more of an engineering aspect, all coupled with a world wide web, then he looks prescient.