Of Cyborgs, Prostheses and Crip_tonite

Dis_ability studies, queer and crip theories offer several new avenues for researching the meaning of bodies in aesthetics. While poststructuralism has challenged the concepts of normal and the pathological and portended the objectifying clinical gaze in modern medicine and therapy (Canguilhem, Foucault), feminist Posthumanism has developed an array of metaphors to further distort the master narratives in technoscience and make them fruitful for their own agendas. The formerly-pathological materializes in feminine cyborg-fictions that aim to overcome the boundaries of nature and culture and give rise to the study of damaged and traumatized bodies.

Make it messy and make it count. Ever since Laurie Anderson’s 1982 pop-debut O Superman, we have hijacked pop-culture and questioned the wet dreams of transhumanism and cybernetics. We think of cyborgs as “a way out of the maze of dualisms” (Haraway). We render the tyranny of ableism and functionalism in disability studies (Kumari Campbell) and tackle the vulnerability of the Moderns (Harrasser). We try to understand the feeling of damaged bodies, as they have a great deal to teach us about the embodied mind (Ramachandran and Hirstein).

This lecture will touch on questions of how bodies, their pleasures as well as displeasures, are represented as either “normal” or abject. We will come to understand the plurality of damaged and undamaged bodies as well as individual norms unable to be perceived by any-body, but themselves.

As a thought experiment—a posthumanist daydream—we will philosophize upon the weaknesses and subjacent idealisms that run throughout the arts, aesthetics and technology. We will take a step back from what ‘we think we know’ and counter our own master narratives with Crip_tonite as a neo-material antidote to unravel the persisting blind spots and empower bodies and minds to invent new approaches towards an ontology of the pathological.

This lecture at The Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna is scheduled for the summer term in 2022.

LITERATURE

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Haraway. 1991. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature, 149–81. London: Free Association Books.

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Ramachandran and Hirstein. 1998. “The Perception of Phantom Limbs.” Brain Vol. 121, 1603–30.

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Zola. 1982. Missing Pieces: A Chronicle of Living With a Disability. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.