Estranged Body and Alternate Interfaces
Knowledge of the body as the reversible surface of social life and self-identity is the shared concern that brings the works of Kinga Araya and Stelarc into dialogue. In both cases the artist ardently pursues this knowledge through the use of prosthetic devices that create awkward new shapes and complex new sets of gestures.
Walking and talking lose all grace through their augmentation, turning simple, automatic activities into performances. For Araya, the routines she performs while wearing spherical cast-steel feet or a tongue extension so long it requires a helmet and stand for support offer a symbolic commentary on the themes of travel and communication. At the same time, the materiality of the sculptural devices draws attention to the burdens of physical being. For Stelarc, his cyborg performances are meant to raise the speculative question "What if the body becomes a prosthesis itself?" and to advance the notion that Western civilization has absented or erased the body already. While Stelarc's choice of "materials" contrasts with that of Araya, she uses the technologies and techniques of the virtual to make a similar point about the impossible quest for ever-expanding self-control. For in both cases the extensions of the body, its congress with technology, points back towards the essential indeterminacy underlying human identity.
Presented in collaboration with the 2001 Moving Pictures Festival.