Wiretap 5.09 - Phantom Bodies coincided with the robotics exhibition La Cour des Miracles, by Canadian artists Louis-Philippe Demers and Bill Vorn, held at the V2_ building from September 16 till 26, 1999.
Wiretap 5.09 discussed the 'phantom body', the virtual, potential double of the physical body. The program was about the relationship between body and prosthesis, the reality of an absent yet perceived limb, and about avatars or phantom bodies in a virtual environment.
In a recent futuristic scenario, science fiction writer Greg Egan introduced the Permutation City, a virtual world with copies of deceased persons who participate in the physical world by means of human agents and robots. It could be possible to describe a situation where artificial intelligence, through robots, influences physical reality -- perhaps industrial robots can already be seen as agents in an abstract system of market developments, communication, production and distribution.
The boundaries of the body are fluid. Instruments and tools, machines, prostheses, telecommunication turn the boundaries of the body outwards; implanted chips, pacemakers and other devices link the inside of the body to the outside. The Internet can also be considered as an extension of human. Sandy Stone described this configuration, where people have prosthetic relationships in a network (e.g. telephone sex), as 'prosthetic sociality'.
Wiretap 5.09 was about the relation between body and phantom body, between body and machine. The program enquired about the aesthetic and cultural consequences of a situation where the body is no longer strictly defined, but an open and complex system of interwoven, functional layers.
Marnix de Nijs (NL), artist, did research at the Time's Up Laboratories (Linz, A) about the relationship between the body and perception under extreme circumstances. His experiments with moving bodies, spinning machines and unstable video equipment led to exciting results that he demonstrated in his presentation.
His installation Panoramic Acceleration (1999) was exhibited at Montevideo / Time Based Arts in Amsterdam till October 9, 1999, and would be part of the DEAF_00 Exhibition.
Phoebe Sengers (USA) is graduated in Computer Science and Literary and Cultural Theory at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg. She researches the cultural and political dimensions of the design of computer agents. In her presentation Pathologies of the Avatar, she spoke about her technical projects in relation to avatar design. She touched upon the philosophical and psychological questions and the physical problems of working with computers.
Stahl Stenslie (NO) is a media artist and a researcher in Oslo. In his artworks and research, he discusses the networked body and the relationship between virtual and human actors -- mostly in relationship with the manipulation of observation and thought. Stenslie presented the development from cybersex (and the human-machine relationship) in his work to his more recent interest in avatars and humans meeting in virtual and physical spaces.
Marnix de Nijs
Phoebe Sengers' thesis
Time's Up: Closing The Loop