11 July, 2012

I Want To Be A Nexus-6

presented by
Mystic Metals Body Jewelry

I Want To Be A Nexus-6

Yes, it's true. Last week was the first week in the four year history of the blog in which I did not post a blog. My apologies, kids. I wish I had a good excuse, like maybe I was fighting evil with my hidden shoe knife and eyeglasses laser. Or maybe I invented a robot that will do your taxes while reciting your favorite romance novel. Or maybe I found a way to get rid of every one of those awful rubber rain boots that the kids are wearing now. I didn't do any of these things this week. What I have been doing is not terribly interesting. Unless you call sleeping and worrying about money to the point of sweating and spewing interesting. You may, you sick child. Oh yeah, I did this too. Enjoy.
Watch me.

I am a big fan of writer and futurist Philip K. Dick. He wrote some of the more interesting and poignant American science fiction, and many of his stories and novels have been made into fantastic films. "A Scanner Darkly" is one of the better films of his work, and of course "Blade Runner," which is based on the Dick novel "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?" And if you don't like "Blade Runner," I'll fight you. I'm looking at you, Becks. Futurism is an interesting thing. There are quite a few brilliant cats who subscribe to futurism. Warren Ellis and Daniel C. Dennett come to mind. What is futurism? Well, it's kind of an amorphous idea, but chiefly it pertains to the sense of living in the future in the present. Futurists tend to obsess over things like artificial intelligence, automation, machine integration. Things like that. I dig robots and time travel, but I wouldn't call myself a futurist. I think I like steampunk clothes more than moonman jumpsuits anyway. What does futurism have to do with modification? That's a good question. Let's find out! Oh wait; I'm the one writing this. Damnit.

We have all faced the judgement of unmodified people. Let's not get crazy, though. We're not black Americans in the fifties or anything, but there are some unmodified who are very much into the purity of keeping their birth bodies until they're maggot fodder; which is wonderfully fine. Good luck with that when your knees give out and you need Robocop joints to help you walk. One of the more interesting questions I have heard from some hardcore body purists is this: Are you doing some kind of future thing where you're trying to be a robot?

Yes, I've heard that question in several different phrasings. When people bring up the body augmentation thing as a form of changing into something unnatural, I usually tell them that I'm not trying to be a robot but I do want to be a Nexus-6 or maybe buy an Asimo. Then we start talking about how awesome Asimo is. He really is awesome. I personally am very far from the heavy modifications that would put me into the category of being a modification futurist. But there are those who are blurring that line. I'm sure you all have seen by now that kid David Hurban (from my home state, the great New Jersey) who implanted magnets into his wrist to hold his iPod Nano in place. Ignoring that dermal implanting is not technically legal in Jerz, that's a pretty wild modification which is employing a utilitarian function of the modification. Albeit for entertainment, but its applications could grow from there. Just look at James Sooy and Oliver Gilson who pioneered and run www.piercedglasses.com. These cats are using bridge piercings with hinged magnets to attach prescription lenses to the face without the need for arms on the glasses. Pretty wild stuff.

Again, we are looking at utilitarian functions of body modification. And yes, before you call me out, a hip replacement is a utilitarian function of body modification, but hip replacement didn't traditionally have a purely aesthetic function in the same way as a dermal implant or a bridge piercing does. I think you kids get me here. There are those artists who are using implantation techniques to experiment with the body in order to arrive at functions similar to the pierced eyeglasses or iPod wrist thing. Now, I'm not a Big Brother kind of guy (not the shitty TV show, kids; I'm talking about "1984" by George Orwell style here), but implants could have a function in greater society. I've seen movies where people use their eyes to open doors. I think those things are real. Let me check. (They're totally real thanks to Robert "Buzz" Hill who in 1978 patented the technology under his company EyeDentify, Inc.) So using that as a model, modification implants could serve a similar function. Of course the opportunity for fraud is much less with a retinal scanner, unless you buy new eyes like in "Minority Report," which is also a film based on a Philip K. Dick book. Full circle, kids. Full circle. But in our reality, there are elements of self that cannot be changed, so if we implant identification tools into our skin for the use of scanning by authorities or keeping medical records or other such pertinent and permanent information, then we would automate the processes of gathering these records and this information to an alarming rate. Now I sound like a futurist.

This is just one example of further application of a simple modification in a way that would benefit society at large. Benefit being subjective, of course. Futurism and modification have intersecting destinies, I think. Would I get an iPod attached to my wrist? I don't know; maybe. But that process is the seed that germinates ideas into grander things. Though simple prosthesis have been around since ancient Egyptian times, studies like biomechatronics, as most popularly studied by Hugh Herr at MIT, are that nebulous bridge between simple body modification and practical and applicable body modification science. Biomechatronics isn't solely inspired by modifications like dermal implanting, of course, but this Hugh Herr cat is doing crazy shit, like making lifelike, robotic limbs respond to neurological stimuli from brain in the exact fashion as a biological limb would. That's insane and awesome, and though it seems a thousand steps away from pierced eyeglasses, aren't they fundamentally similar in certain ways?

So am I saying that modification has lead to replacement limbs for people? Yes and no. There is a clear correlation within ancient cultures, like egyptians and others, between their participation in aesthetic modifications such as lobe stretching and later their pioneering utilitarian modifications such as simple prosthetic limbs. The question we in the modification community have to ask ourselves is one of purpose. That is often an unclear conclusion. Do pierced eyeglasses have a greater purpose? Does an iPod affixed to the wrist with magnets have a greater purpose? Those are questions whose answers will be revealed in the future, I suppose. Another question is this: Does it have to have a purpose? From an art point of view, not really. Though I may be considered an artist through writing and music, I don't see much functional purpose to what I do. From a science point of view, the futurists' mods may have a greater function. Biological study always seems to have a purpose as the future galumphs onward and becomes the present. Strangely, when we arrive at that future and it becomes the present, we continue to galumph into the next future, sometimes forgetting that there are some futuristic things happening in the present too. Wow, that got really confusing. I still don't think I am a futurist, but the genesis of the next great and lifesaving advance in medical science may be in the ingenuity and artistic bravery of a modification artist. Stay beautiful, kids.

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