Transhumanism: cyborgs and biohackers redefine the ideal of beauty

Transhumanism: cyborgs and biohackers redefine the ideal of beauty

Writer Cable News Network (CNN)

With the advancement of biotechnology, we may also think about what it means to be a creature Human.

Today, we can change our bodies in ways that were previously unthinkable, whether it is implanted with a microchip, suitable for advanced prosthetics, or designing a new feeling.

So-called transhumanists-people who seek to improve biology by using technology to enhance their bodies-believe that our natural conditions will inhibit our experience of the world, and we can transcend existing capabilities through science.

For some people, the idea of ​​”technical progress” is controversial for others. But for photographer David Vintiner, they are quite another matter: beautiful.

Neil Harbisson was born with color blindness or total color blindness. In 2004, he implanted an antenna on the skull, allowing him to perceive color as an audible vibration. Credit: David Wentina

“The beauty lies in the engineering products,” said Vintiner, who has been engaged in photography for many years Realistic robot And the modifiers in his forthcoming book “I Want to Believe-The Exploration of Transhumanism”.

This book, produced in collaboration with art director and critic Gem Fletcher, introduces many people who are somehow identified as “superhuman”-including a man with bionic ears that can sense changes in air pressure, And a woman who can “feel”. Earthquakes occurring all over the world and technicians who developed organs for laboratory manufacturing.

Fletcher first introduced the transhumanist subculture through the London Futurist Group (Luturance Futurist Group), an organization dedicated to exploring how technology can respond to future crises. After meeting with some members, the London-based art director contacted Vintiner and came up with the idea of ​​taking photos of them with a series of portraits.

Rob Spence claimed to be the “eye fort”. He installed a wireless camera instead of the right eye. Credit: David Wentina

Vintiner recalled in a telephone interview: “Our first photo was taken with DIY ‘brain hacker” Andrew Vladimirov. “Every time we shoot a newcomer, we ask to introduce and introduce to other key figures in the movement . “

Although the photographer admits that the transhumanist claims seemed odd at first, he soon saw the appeal of technological self-enhancement. “If there is a chance, what would you do Design your own body What do you want to say to you? “he asks.

Redefine human experience

One of Vintiner’s research subjects, James Young turned to bionics after losing his arms and legs due to an accidental death in 2012. Young has always been interested in biotechnology, especially the aesthetics of science fiction. Visualizing how to “rebuild” his body, even using the latest technology to perform enhanced tasks, has become part of his recovery process.

But according to the 29-year-old, the choice the doctor gave him was far from exciting—the standard bionic steel bionic limbs had flesh-colored silicone sleeves.

James Young has always been attracted by the aesthetics of science fiction. After the accident, he began to see “rebuild” his body as part of his recovery process. Credit: David Wentina

Young said in a video interview: “Seeing what is available is the most frustrating part.”

“In terms of tools and technology, what the human body can make is too vague-if you consider the arm, it’s just a sensory device.

“If someone cuts off their arms and legs, it will be me, because I am excited about the technology and the technology it can accomplish.”

Japanese gaming giant Konami worked with prosthetic sculptor Sophie de Oliveira Barata to design a set of bionic limbs for Young. The result was hands and feet made of gray carbon fiber-an aesthetic part inspired by Konami’s “metal gear entity”, which was one of the 22-year-old’s favorite video games at the time.

In addition to the expected functions, Young ’s robotic arm has a USB port, a screen that displays his Twitter feed, and a retractable base that contains a remote control drone. The limbs are controlled by sensors that convert nerve impulses from the Yang’s spine into body movements.

Young’s Vintiner said: “Advanced restoration technology has enabled James to change people’s understanding of his disability, adding:” When these photos were shown to people, the ideas they contained would be shocked and uneasy. However, if you dissect these ideas, they realize that they are very pragmatic. “

James Young’s bionic arm has a USB port, a screen linked to his Twitter account, and a retractable base that contains a remote control drone. Credit: David Wentina

Young said that people not only need to appreciate the function of advanced bionic limbs, but also need to appreciate its beauty. It has taken years. He said: “Bionic and electronic limbs are considered terrible, entirely because of their appearance.” “They happen to think that ‘disability is not sexy’.”

He also felt stigma around the bionic creatures, because patients were usually given flesh-colored sleeves to cover their prostheses.

Yang said: “From a visual point of view, we think this is the boundary of the human body.” “The supernaturalist’s opportunity opens up because the bionic arm does not feel pain, or can be replaced immediately if you have money. It has different Ability to withstand heat and not get sunburned. “

As Vintiner continued to shoot portraits, he felt that many of his prejudices were challenged. This process also raises a profound question: If technology can change the nature of humanity, can it also change the beauty of humanity?

He said: “Most of my (original) work revolves around people-their behavior, personality, quirks and stories.” “But this project takes the concept of beauty to another level.”

Liz Parrish claims to be the first person to successfully “treat” biological aging with dual gene therapy. Credit: David Wentina

Lover’s eyes

For Widina, the impact of science on our understanding of aesthetics is one of the most fascinating aspects of transhumanism. However, he found that many people in the sport still view the existing beauty standards as a perfect example of “post-human”.

Another theme of Fletcher and Vintiner’s book is Sophia, a robot designed by Hanson Robotics scientists David Hanson and Ben Goertzel. Sofia It is one of the most advanced humanoid robots to date.

In an interview with CNN Style in 2018, Hansen said that Sofia ’s styling will resonate with people around the world, and her appearance is partly influenced by real women including Hansen ’s wife and Audrey Hepburn and Egypt. Inspired by the statue of Queen Nefertiti.

Related video: Meet Sophia, a robot with a frown that smiles like us

However, with light hazel eyes, perfect eyebrows, long eyelashes, defined bones and plump lips, Sophia’s appearance can be said to be the epitome of the traditionally beautiful white woman.

The photographer recalled: “When I photographed Ben Goertzel, he clearly expressed how he immediately took the time to think about his (his own) appearance-it didn’t matter to him.”

Vintiner saw some irony: a person who does not care about his appearance can still project our attention to beauty through the invention of his company.

This also reminds us that attractiveness may be more complicated than algorithms are difficult to understand.

Ben Goertzel, one of the scientists behind the robot Sophia. Credit: David Wentina

“I’m worried that if we can design people who don’t have any” defects “in biological composition, then things will get closer and closer to the perfect level we can only imagine at present. “Look at how cosmetic surgery has changed our view of beauty in a short period of time.

“If the superhumanists are correct, and we as humans can live to be hundreds of years old, then our conception of beauty and its significance to humanity will change dramatically.”

Due to the pandemic pandemic, “I want to believe-the exploration of transhumanism” and Kickstarter The advertising campaign and accompanying photo exhibition have been temporarily postponed.

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