Electronic Culture: History, Theory, and Practice
280 pp., 8 x 9 in, 122 b&w illus.
- Published: October 21, 2005
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: September 28, 2007
- Publisher: The MIT Press
A user's guide to Stelarc, the international performance artist whose extreme performances explore the borderland between bodies and machines.
Stelarc is the most celebrated artist in the world working within technology and the visual arts. He is both an artist and a phenomenon, using his body as medium and exhibition space. Working in the interface between the body and the machine, employing virtual reality, robotics, medical instruments, prosthetics, and the Internet, Stelarc's art includes physical acts that don't always look survivable—or, as science fiction novelist William Gibson puts it in his foreword, "sometimes seem to include the possibility of terminality."
Stelarc's projects include Third Hand, a grasping and wrist rotating mechanism with a rudimentary sense of touch that is attached to the artist and activated by EMG from other body areas; Amplified Body, in which the artist performs acoustically with his brainwaves, muscles, pulse, and blood flow signals; and the Stomach Sculpture, a device—or "aesthetic adornment"—placed in the artist's stomach and presented through video. Works in progress include the Extra Ear Project, a soft prosthesis of skin and cartilage to be constructed on the artist's arm. Stelarc's work both reflects and determines new directions in performance art and body art. Although there have been hundreds of articles written about Stelarc since he began performing in the late 1960s, Stelarc: The Monograph is the first comprehensive study of Stelarc's work practice in over thirty years. Gathering a range of writers who approach the work from a variety of perspectives, it includes William Gibson's account of his meetings with Stelarc, Arthur and Marilouise Kroker's emphatic "WE ARE ALL STELARCS NOW," and Stelarc himself in conversation with Marquard Smith. Taken together, these writers give us a multiplicity of ways to think about Stelarc.
A Nietzschean experimental site, Stelarc delivers a punch of utmost severity, joining performance art with prosthetic innovation and philosophical reflection. This book brings together a colloquy of technowarriors who probe the limits of the eviscerable body, its post-pornographic submission, and hybrid presumptions. One imagines Heidegger traversed by Schreber.
Avital Ronell, Professor of German, Comparative Literature, and English, New York University, author ofThe Test Drive and The Telephone Book
In this collection of essays, we are invited to envelop ourselves in a series of events that oscillate between tranwuil mediations and violent crashes as data, hardware, and flesh mix in a variety of unbounded artistic orchestrations. With contributions from the critics and theorists who know Stelarc best, this book contains illuminating commentary on and analysis of his technoperformative work that is as compelling and as disturbing as anything found in the most radical of science fiction novels. Welcome to the world of Stelarc.
Steven Kurtz, Critical Art Ensemble
For far too long there has been a gap on many bookshelves waiting to be filled by a publication like Stelarc: The Monograph. This rich critical analysis and celebration of one of the world's most influential prescient provocative and discussed artists is an invaluable and welcome resource for everyone engaged with discourses and disciplines spanning visual performance and digital art cyberculture artificial intelligence biotechnology and robotics.
Lois Keidan, Director, Live Art Development Agency London