Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stelarc + ear + two faces + Jeckyll & Hyde + looking

Thinking about Stelarc's use of technological intervention to produce an extra ear on his arm alongside genetic deletions, duplications, translocations and inversions ~ basically, nature's superior way of creating bodily mutations, particularly ones like the child born in India with two faces in 2008, makes me think that Stelarc's extra ear is quite a benign little form compared to the complexity of imagery, gross distortion and unique configurations of those humans who are born asymmetrical, different, other. Their wonder for me is the fact that they are of our species and yet appear to some as inhuman, perhaps even godlike. This is certainly the way these Indian parents consider their unusual child. But what of that old idea that somehow your physical body corresponds to some internal evil psyche ~ if you look evil, then you must be! I think that Robert Louis Stevenson has a lot to answer for in writing Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde in 1885, for we've had 150 years to develop ideas around those we considered different from ourselves. It seems whatever people do they can't win. Muslim women who wear the Burka are currently being persecuted for covering their body, others are persecuted because they don't. Of course none of this is simple, but the fact is that there are some things that we just don't want to see and there are things that others don't want us to see. The difference here is the contrast between seeing/looking and perception.

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