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Themesicon: navigation pathAesthetics of the Digitalicon: navigation pathAesthetic Paradigms
Body Scan (Wohlgemuth, Eva), 1997Ping Body (Stelarc), 1996

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on the Internet. This implies two modes of participation: locally with data spectacles, remotely over the net.

The net-art work «Bodyscan» (1997) by Eva Wohlgemuth is an other example of the loss of significance of (biological) material as a paradigm of reality. It consists of the image of the artist’s digitized body, which begins to ‹live› through the visitor’s gaining access to its interior. The body’s transformation into a virtual-topographic zone, a field of research, is furthermore congruent with the post-biological ideas held by various artists.

The artist Stelarc proposes a transition from the biological individual to «cyber system» by means of a new project of the body, i.e. a new project of the human. In his view, the application of bio-compatible microtechnology to and in the human body makes it possible to break through biological boundaries. The deeper technology penetrates the body, the more invisible it becomes. While in the «surgical performances» of the French artist Orlan the assault on physical integrity by microsurgery molds the ‹surface› of the body and attacks the identification of


subject with body, of appearance with identity, in Stelarc’s case the assault is launched by the extension of the limb and organ functions by technical instruments. His «metaformances» [14] inevitably imply the performance (in the literal sense) of the technical prostheses he employs. In works like «Ping Body» (1995–1998), the body vanishes as an instrument of action: the (virtual) phantom body, the user participating in physical absence, and the machine realize the «metaformance» over the Internet. «Ping Body» is a good example of extreme absence insofar as the body becomes a hollow object, a host offering itself for the projections and interventions of remote assistants. By creating a body on the network that Internet users can ‹inhabit› and manipulate, Stelarc is ultimately drafting a new conception of identity and awareness of one’s own reality: the body is at once subject and object; it is no longer a closed functional system but a reception medium and interface between subject and observer, subject and context, subject and machine.

These processes of dematerialization (of the body, of the subject) affect the concepts of reality and

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