The Psymbiote Develops
our work so far we have been exploring innovative ways to extend the body's
capabilities, building elements that will eventually add both function
and aestheticappeal. The elements which we've been developing include
a prosthetic "pedipalp." This mandible-like device which either folds
up behind the head or extends out in front of the face. It could be used
as a feeding device (when you're busy or on the run), an expressive element
(like our hands), or perhaps in performance as a way to touch audience
members in an intimate gesture that lacks skin-to-skin contact.
Another unit under construction is a data input glove. The glove has an organic appearance and mechanical joints which will connect to sensors as a means to drive other elements on the suit. Hands are the primary source of production in our culture, and encasing them in technology brings up issues of empowerment vs. encumbrance. This glove will give me new tools, and will provide triggers for other functionality. But how will it affect my ability to use my hands in the ways we're accustomed to using them? To reach and grasp, to interact with my environment, to touch a friend or caress a lover? How will this change me? The glove is fully articulated, but still it alters my means of function, and the body itself. These are some of the interactions we hope to test in our work, and in public performance.
Who believes that technological enhancements will change us fundamentally? If you wear your computer everyday, do you think that will change you? How? In what way? A colleague recently said "I just go where my palm pilot tells me", and I think that's an attitude that is coming out in more people as we allow technologies to help run our lives. As we add more technological functionality to daily life, further integrating devices with our physical selves, these elements could have transformative powers. Implanted and integrated technologies could change our conceptions of the form, function, and appearance of the human body, and promote the hybridization of identity as well.
The psymbiote will be more than a human in a costume. When the psymbiote is fully formed, she will take over this body. It will move differently, perceive the world from an altered vantage point, experience new sensory input, communicate to the world with different signals. We define our sense of self primarily through our experiences, our interactions with the world. If we change the nature of these interactions, we alter our conception of self.