The imagined body – the cyborg

Beckwith, Megan 2010, The imagined body – the cyborg, in 4th Annual International ACSA Conference : The visual imagination conference abstracts, Asian Cultural Studies Association, Bangkok, Thailand, pp. 4-5.

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Title The imagined body – the cyborg
Author(s) Beckwith, Megan
Conference name Annual International ACSA Conference (4th. 2010: Bangkok, Thailand)
Conference location Bangkok, Thailand
Conference dates 1-3 Nov. 2010
Title of proceedings 4th Annual International ACSA Conference : The visual imagination conference abstracts
Editor(s) [unknown]
Publication date 2010
Conference series Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture International Conference
Start page 4
End page 5
Total pages 27
Publisher Asian Cultural Studies Association
Place of publication Bangkok, Thailand
Summary During a NASA conference in the 1960s, the term cyborg was created through an amalgamation of the terms ‘cybernetics’ and ‘organism’. Coined by concert pianist Manfred Clynes and research colleague Nathan Kline to describe the internal technological modification of the body. This new term resonated within popular culture and was quickly embraced by science fiction where the cyborg became a popular character. The image of the cyborg is often hyper-physical and hyper-sexual. The super sexualised woman who can shoot bullets from her breasts is a popular comic book cyborg representation. The Replicants from Riddley Scott’s Blade Runner and Arnold Schwaznegger’s role the Terminator are other examples where the technological and physical combination produces a terrifying hyper humans. Increasingly the future of our physicality is one that is intertwined with technology. Although the image of the cyborg is often an exaggerated character it holds within it real future possibilities. Consider the portable arm wrist communicator from the scifi classic Star Trek. The watch phone communication device was once an object of the imagination but now a reality in the personal mobile phone. This paper argues that through imagined imagery of the cyborg, future possibilities can be seen.

One example of the image of the cyborg representing possible human futures is the performance work Cyborpyg. Cyborpyg is a 40-minute contemporary dance work that integrates three dimensional (3D) animation and video media within the performance. Projected 3D animated prosthetic limbs appear to extend the dancers from within. These digital limbs integrate with dancer’s bodies transforming them into cyborgs. The animations are an extreme form of aesthetic modification reflecting the possible consequences of the integration of technology within the body. Cyborpyg also explores both utopic and dystipic themes within the cyborg paradigm. The dancing hybrid bodies perform magical feats not possible with an unmodified body. Feet twist into talons and flippers, eyes extend from the head, arms transform into robotic attachments. The dancer’s bodies also appear trapped in an unrelenting environment with prosthesis that appear to torture and inflict serious harm. This paper explores the idea that the imagined image of the cyborg reflects future possibilities for the human physicality.
Language eng
Field of Research 190403 Dance
Socio Economic Objective 950105 The Performing Arts (incl. Theatre and Dance)
HERDC Research category L2.1 Full written paper - non-refereed (minor conferences)
ERA Research output type E Conference publication
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Document type: Conference Paper
Collections: Faculty of Arts and Education
School of Communication and Creative Arts
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Created: Thu, 15 Dec 2011, 11:47:37 EST by Megan Gaye Beckwith

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