Week 5: The Posthuman Body

Posthumanism is a movement standing between serious scientific discourse and fiction, which offers a vision of a transition from human to the so called posthuman. The posthuman is viewed as an offspring of technoculture, the synthesis of living and artificial, a loosely evolving entity without fixed ontological boundaries. The existence of the posthuman has a processual nature.

Posthumanism is an interesting subject of science and fiction stories, but also a symbol of a transgression of actual predestined categories such as race, gender, identity or social status. Most of all, posthuman is primarily a metaphor, adopted by a variety of narratives focused on the potential aspects of technologically extended life. From serious scientific research, through science-fiction, up to its countless appropriations by the art world. From this viewpoint, posthumanism can be approached as a liminal transdisciplinary field, located on the boundary between science, technology and art.

tranSfera is a multimedia performance project – started in 2007 by SUKA OFF, a Poland based artist collective – which relates to the side of posthumanism, where the meaning of gender is altered through progressive technologies. The aim of tranSfera was to search for non-verbal forms of communication between those in an intimate relationship.  The performers change the perceived image of body, referring to classical myths and philosophers, and furthermore to the modern information chaos and the manipulation of reality performed by the media and their technologies.

tranSfera begins with a woman lying on a white mattress in the pose of sleeping Hermaphrodite. When the man enters her space, it’s like if he entered the stream of Salmacis – he begins the ritual of self-alteration. The man and woman try to become one with use of physical and multimedia processes. They replace natural senses with electronic devices to be able to look and sound the same. But the “remixed” version of themselves remains abstracted from their bodies and is visible only in the stream of electrical impulses and light from a projector.

Still from tranSfera by SUKA OFF

The roles of male and female in “tranSfera” are based on Greek philosophers, who considered woman as the matter – wet, mutable and unbounded, while the man was dry, stable and bounded. In the process of creation man determines the form and woman contributes the matter.

Still from tranSfera by SUKA OFF

The artists are not interested in the sociological, cultural or political context of this theory. They transfer it into the field of visual arts and replace the traditional “material” and “tool” with the “female” and “male”.

Still from tranSfera by SUKA OFF

The recurring themes of SUKA OFF art are:

 – human carnality in all its biological and physiological aspects

 – attempt to redefine the gender by blurring the individual qualities/ sexual codes culturally delegated to the male and female

– redefinition of classical myths and philosophical ideas and translating them into modern visual language

– search of alternative and radical forms of communication based on the connection between the living human body and electronic devices

postindustrial aesthetics, the “clash” between human body and the substance of steel / aluminum / concrete.

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