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Senses of Embodiment: Art, Technics, Media

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Edited By Mika Elo and Miika Luoto

This volume is a collection of essays that presents both theory- and practice-based approaches to questions concerning the embodiment of sense.
Exploring the opening of meaning in sensible configurations, the texts also address the medial structures – at once aesthetic, bodily and technical – that condition our access to whatever makes sense to us.
The texts show in various ways how these phenomena call for trans-disciplinary research, and how theoretical or philosophical questioning gains from the experimental possibilities of artistic research.
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From Elephans Photographicus to the Hybronaut: An Artistic Approach to Human Enhancement: Laura Beloff

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From Elephans Photographicus to the Hybronaut: An Artistic Approach to Human Enhancement

LAURA BELOFF

Introduction

In 1969 Gregory Bateson proposed that instead of mid-nineteenth-century thinking on survival in Darwinian terms, in which unit of survival is either family line or the species, we know by now (1969) that the unit of survival in the real biological world is the organism plus its environment. In other words, the organism that destroys its environment destroys itself.1 This suggests a cohesive image of a synergistic organism that is firmly joined with its environment.

Toward a similar direction in perceiving the connection between an organism and its environment, Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944) was arguing already in 1934 with his development of the concept of Umwelt, which proposes that organism’s subjective perception of the world is directed by its physiological design and its needs. In this viewpoint, the surrounding environment provides the necessary supplies for organism’s survival and the organism’s physiological design has adapted to this environment. That is to say that the organism forms a subjective perception that can be imagined as a soap bubble that surrounds each individual and contains signifying markers relevant only to the world of that specific individual. Uexküll’s research revealed that every species has its own constructed Umwelt because each species reacts in a distinctive way to the same signals it receives from the physical world.2 What is thus necessary for one’s biological survival, is included within one’s perception...

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