Category Archives: Biopolitics

Numbers or Souls? Angelo Musco’s Ecotechnical Bodyscapes

Angelo Musco. Xylem.  2011.  Metallic C-Print mounted between Aluminum and Plexi-glass.  8'x20'.

“For some it’s the numbers,” Angelo Musco told TIME Lightbox in an interview last March. “For me, it’s the souls.”

Musco creates “Bodyscapes,” enormous images composed of thousands, even millions of naked bodies. What looks like a forest scene or a bird’s nest from a distance turns out to be, upon closer inspection, a mass of bodies stretched, reaching, bent, huddled, flying, swimming, curled, piled, entwined—but most of all, amassed, aggregated, collected, concentrated. The images are certainly beautiful, but it is a terrifying beauty. For Musco, the body is a site and a celebration of pain as well as joy. Continue reading Numbers or Souls? Angelo Musco’s Ecotechnical Bodyscapes

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Dissertation Reviews on Creatures of Artifice

Last week, Dissertation Reviews posted a review of my own doctoral thesis, Creatures of Artifice: Rodney Brooks and the Bioethics of Animated Machines. DR is a relatively new website (founded in 2010) that offers “friendly and uncritical reviews” of recently defended dissertations. What began as a fairly specialized forum for reviewing dissertations in Chinese history and Asian studies has quickly expanded to include research in science studies, bioethics, medical anthropology, and media studies, with the intention to keep growing. Continue reading Dissertation Reviews on Creatures of Artifice

Floris Kaayk’s “Metalosis Maligna”: Biopower Beyond Sovereignty

I stumbled upon the work of filmmaker Floris Kaayk way back in 2006, but quickly forgot about it until earlier this year, when I wanted to present a couple of his shorts here. I don’t think I had ever paid attention Kayyk’s name, so it isn’t surprising that my rather poor Google search a couple of months ago, in which I tried to describe what I remembered from his work, didn’t turn up what I was looking for.

Today—eureka! I discovered the video I was searching for, as well as Kaayk’s site. The Dutch animator has been busy in the past few years, even garnering some major media attention for his “Human Birdwings” project}, an experiment in “online storytelling,” as he calls it, that involves a fictional character who designs a bird suit and flies around a city park. While Kaayk’s site expresses appreciation for the “positive reactions” from around the world, the coverage from major news providers unfortunately fixates on the project as an online “hoax” or “fake.” Generosity and imagination, it would seem, are in short supply when it comes to new media.

What initially caught my attention way back when was his project entitled “Metalosis Maligna,” which takes the form of a documentary about a new disease that causes medical implants to spread throughout the bodies of afflicted patients. Complete with interviews with a leading clinical expert, as well as the requisite science-documentary-style infographics, Kaayk’s short presents the gruesome development of the disease, as all sorts of medical braces, screws, and joint replacements gradually take the place of a man’s organic tissue. Just to warn you, the video is fairly disturbing, both in its visuals and its sound design, not to mention the verisimilitude with which Kaayk apes the science-doc format. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, so I’ve embedded it after the jump. Continue reading Floris Kaayk’s “Metalosis Maligna”: Biopower Beyond Sovereignty

Grindhouse Posthumanism

I have been meaning to get this post out since I first saw Ben Popper’s article for The Verge, Cyborg America, about “basement body hackers,” way back at the beginning of August. A new teaching assignment at Humber College as well as an ongoing editing contract have kept me from posting for the past months, however.

I embed the video here, but I also encourage you to read the accompanying article.

I sent the link around to a number of my colleagues after covering issues of technoscience and ethics in our classes. One of them sent me a message back, saying that, while Popper’s article is certainly interesting, he takes the “cyborg” practices to be somewhat outdated here. He points out, correctly, that a lot of transhumanist discourse now envisions human enhancements at the genetic and nano levels. Continue reading Grindhouse Posthumanism