Performing In-Difference E-Interview

Edward Scheer, Stelarc .


Edward Scheer : In part 10 of your manifesto, Parasite Visions, you point out the lack of physicality available to internet users and invoke the future of cybernetic corporeality with a combination of high-end equipment and the ageless figure of the phantom: ‘As we hard-wire more high-fidelity image, sound, tactile and force-feedback sensation between bodies, then we begin to generate powerful phantom presences—not phantom as in ‘phantasmagorical’, but phantom as in ‘phantom limb sensation’. The sensation of the remote body sucked onto your skin and nerve endings, collapsing the psychological and spatial distance between bodies on the Net. Just as in the experience of a Phantom Limb with the amputee, bodies will generate phantom partners, not because of a lack, but as extending and enhancing addition to their physiology. Your aura will not be your own.’

The ‘collapsing’ of the ‘distance between bodies on the Net’ recalls the idea that elsewhere you’ve called ‘intimacy without proximity’. Might this be a solution to the very loss of interpersonal intimacy that some argue is a feature of the information age?

Stelarc : Well, with the internet it’s not so much a case of a lack of physicality at all, but an alternate kind of operational system which connects physical bodies and machines with physical bodies in other places. The reference to the phantom is therefore to that which can be generated by more haptic internet interfaces that will also include tactile and force feedback. The cybernetic corporeality that is being suggested is an extended and extruded embodiment that connects a multiplicity of remote bodies, spatially separated, but electronically connected.

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