Stelarc’s “Ear on Arm” project is certain to generate a lot of double-takes on the street. But if Stelarc has his way, then his third ear will also allow anyone on the internet to listen to what the artist hears wherever there is WiFi access.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, French scientists have created a new Cyborg-style spinal implant that almost comes straight out of a science fiction movie.
When people look at Stelarc’s “Ear On Arm” project, they will certainly think it is a weird way to use technology. But Stelarc has long been interested in using technology to enhance the body in ways people may not consider normal. For example, Stelarc’s Third Hand attempted to add technology to his own body.
Stelarc says this is not something new for him. He notes that one of his first performance pieces was related to virtual reality and he has always been interested in enhancing the human body further.
“[T]he important thing for me is to plug in, extend the body with cyber-systems and see what it can actually do,” Stelarc explained during a Stanford interview. “For me the body is an impersonal, evolutionary, objective structure. Having spent two thousand years prodding and poking the human psyche without any real discernible changes in our historical and human outlook, we perhaps need to take a more fundamental physiological and structural approach, and consider the fact that it’s only through radically redesigning the body that we will end up having significantly different thoughts and philosophies.”
Based upon this premise, Stelarc’s “Ear on Arm” project intends to extend his body’s sense of hearing to the entire internet.
“The possibilities of people anywhere being able to listen at anytime to what’s going on, if I’m in Perth and you’re in London or in New York or wherever I am, you’ll be able to listen in to what my ear is hearing,” he said. “I think that’s an interesting and somewhat disturbing possibility.”
The performing artist had originally intended to have a third ear on the side of his head, but doctors advised against the idea due to safety reason. Stelarc says he came up with the concept almost 20 years ago, but it was not until recently that technology allowed his vision to be fulfilled.
Three surgeons constructed the ear using biocompatible scaffolding commonly used in plastic surgery. Once grown, it was transplanted onto Stelarc’s arm.
“After about six months the ear becomes literally part of my arm and it’s grown its own blood supply,” Stelarc said.
The next step in Stelarc’s “Ear on Arm” project is to lift the ear so it has an ear lobe. Surgeons already tried inserting a microphone, but he developed an infection and it was removed. But he is hopeful this new form of art will prove how the body can be extended.
“Artists have always been interested in exploring new media and new technologies provide new possibilities,” he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “The ear is not for me, it’s for people in other places. It is interesting, because sometimes you’re sitting at home and the light comes on and then you look down and there’s an ear on your arm. It’s interesting, because, of course, you don’t imagine you could speak into your ear or you don’t imagine being about to literally hand your ear over to someone else to examine.”
What is next for Stelarc? Over the long term, the artist would like to augment his body by using nanomachines. He believes these miniaturized robots can augment the natural bacteria in the human body in addition to assisting the immune system.
“We need to build an internal surveillance system for the body,” he explained. “We have to develop microbots whose behavior is not pre-programmed, but activated by temperature, blood chemistry, the softness or hardness of tissue and the presence of obstacles in tracts. These robots can then work autonomously on the body.”
The final step is the human mind. Stelarc’s “Ear on Arm” project may allow the internet to listen to what he hears, but eventually he wants to “turbo-drive the body-implant and augment the brain” so his mind can listen to the internet.
[Image via YouTube]