Art, Science & Technology | Exceptional Midterms

Stelarc's "Hexapod" demonstrates the creation of an inefficient augment to the body as an interactive robot. In Stelarc's portrayal of a mechanical extension to the human body the concepts of art and science are correlated threefold: through insinuating a dependence between the two, using art to better comprehend the nuances of scientific research, and as a tool for raising public awareness. Each connection conveys the tenacity with which Stelarc bridges the "two cultures."

As Stelarc proudly announces "the body is obselete," he insinuates the dependence by which biology and his art are cohesive. Although resembling more insect than human, the Hexapod reveals irony in Stelarc's claim in that it is very much inspired by the human body: not only in appearance does the Hexapod rely on the human form, but its movement depends on the manipulation of its "host"'s gait. Furthermore, the machine is inefficient and occasionally stumbles: similar to the inefficiencies in Stelarc's work, these flaws showcase how important the body is to the inspiration of these artworks. Science too relies on Stelarc's work, as an artist always has a message in any flaw: this message is pertinent to scientists as well.

The uniqure construction of Stelarc's apparatus further illustrates new comprehension on the philosophy behind science. Because Stelarc's mind created the Hexapod, it is implied that the mind and body are separate, or else his claim to obsoleteness would resound paradoxical. This dualism is reinforced by Roy Ascott's description of technological spirituality: Stelarc's dualism conveys how the spiritual mind deviates from the physiological. Other artists such as Chico MacMurtie demonstrate how separate entities can incur emotional responses without emotions of their own. With Stelarc as the mind and the Hexapod as the body, a correlation between the two reveals that art and philosophy can suggest much about nuances in human biology.

By far the most vibrant correlation forged between art and science by Stelarc is similar to how Steve Kurtz raised public awareness of DNA and science. Stelarc presents his pieces in performances where all of the aforementioned is realized: the inefficiency and dualism of the Hexapod breeds controversy among viewers. This political connection between the two cultures is by far the most important; just like Orlan performed art to raise awareness of plastic surgery, Stelarc's demonstrations make apparent the types of scientific progress being made. In the regard, Stelarc's art is a vessel through which the public is made aware, much like "An Inconvenient Truth" or Hans Haache's "Condensation Cube" warns us about the environment. The art is the medium, but the science is the message.

These concepts are not only important in understanding Stelarc's message, but how the two cultures are being coupled today. Like the covers of "Frankenstein" or "Metropolis," art's role is publicizing the social implications of scientific progress. In Hexapod's inefficiency we see how much the body has left to offer, and its dualism demonstrates how vital the mind is in that progress's realization. As C. P. Snow envisioned, art and science depend on each other as much now as they did in Da Vinci's "Vitrovian Man."