With the exponential growth of technology, our access to them, the capabilities and opportunities are changing. This makes it interesting to reflect on past endeavours and translate them to the current realm.
Dutch artist Dani Ploeger proposed to re-enact the work Amplified Body by Stelarc from 1994 . A work that deals with the relationship between humans, machines and the environment and ultimately the role and functioning of the body. Stelarc once remarked: “We have to design bodies to match our machines.”
Now, 25 years later, Dani Ploeger re-enacts by replacing the specialist devices used in the original work through their contemporary consumer technology-equivalents and adding biofeedback extensions.
The project questions if and how the human body transforms through technology? And ultimately, will the body become obsolete? With the urge to monitor, quantify and predict, (bio)technology is enhancing our life (time). Transhumanists think that eventually eternal life, the singularity, can be reached. Others talk about enhancing human capabilities and expanding our consciousness. The driver differs; is it production efficiency, mental relieve or soul purpose? What clothes and tools will we surround us with and what systems will be coupled to define our (new) relationship between technology and the body? Through a process of speculation, guided by the research and artistic work, we make assumptions, sharing hopes and fears around the topic of human enhancement versus bodily obsolescence.
Following Stelarc’s discourse, B-hind started as artistic project named Appendix Machina, bearing a “speculative and experimental mode through which ideas and artefacts are constructed, images and phantasms, possibilities and failures.” Artist Dani Ploeger felt disappointed by the limited ways to interact with his digital devices. The fact that he could only control his smart technologies with his fingers and voice meant that he experienced an increasing alienation from his body, its inconsistencies and excretions. By analyzing the market, he found no solution that met his needs, which offered complete and easy access to a digitally-enhanced experience of abjection.
So he imagined a new system based on the integration of domestic robotics and technologies for the treatment of faecal incontinence. The project resulted in the product launch performance of B-hind: intimate innovation.
The B‒hind interface consists of a hard- and software package that lets you interact with a domestic multimedia robot. Based on real-time, high-precision digital analyses of your anal sphincter muscle contraction patterns, the robot projects video and sound footage of the human anal canal and intestines onto the outside of your body and your living environment. The product enables full immersion in aspects of embodied experience that are currently largely excluded from everyday life in digital culture: the beauty and joy of the fleshy and wet insides of the body.
B‒hind extends the world of IoT beyond the alienating experience of the clean and sterile logic of existing technologies.
The work has been exhibited at:
2020 ■ V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media (NL – Rotterdam)
2023 ■ ARSE Electronica (AT – Linz)
Courtesy V2_ Photo: Fenna de Jong
B-hind is the result of a ‘Re-enacting the Archive Residency’ at V2_Lab and In4Art, focused on creating a re-enactment of Stelarc’s classic Amplified Body, performed at V2_ in 1994.