Stelarc, “Third Hand” (1981): this photo documents a performance in which the artist attached a mechanical third limb to his body, and controlled it with an EMG sensor. Since the early 1970s the Cypriot-Australian artist Stelarc has been exploring the body’s physical limitations in conjunction with the new possibilities unleashed by cyborgian technology, through rigorous performances that subject the body to extreme circumstances. As one writer sums up his artistic career: “He’s probed his body with cameras, creating films that lay bare the visceral inner workings of his stomach, lungs, and colon. He’s deprived his body, spending five days with his eyes and lips sewn shut. He’s manipulated his body with electricity, connecting electrodes to his muscles and letting others move him like a drunken, flailing robot. And he’s augmented his body through exoskeletons and prostheses, including a mechanical third hand.” (link) Though they sound extreme, these cyborgian experiments aren’t merely presented for their shock value, but as quasi-spiritual/philosophical explorations of what technology says, or can say, about the potential of the human body. His famous mantra: the human body is obsolete. Critics and pragmatically-minded technologists might laugh at his premature attempts to materialize transhumanist theories posed speculatively in science fiction. After all, only now does it look like we have the technological means to make robotic prosthesis commercially viable option. It looks like a romantic enthusiast exploiting experimental technology with gimmicky demonstration of a product that in reality needs further research. Stelarc remains a divisive figure in contemporary art, where some like the Deleuze scholar Brian Massumi extol him as a transformative thinker, while others dismiss him as a petty opportunist. Personally, I’m not sure where I stand.