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Tomorrow Now
When design meets science fiction
Alexandra Midal + Björn Dahlström, December 24, 2007
Innocence, 2003_Hideaki Kawashima
Innocence, 2003_Hideaki Kawashima
 
The body: The “Mechas”- Mechanical transformation of the body

Design and science fiction approach the human body by imagining its organic, mechanical or psychic transformation, improving it through the addition of prothesis or bypassing it through interior voyaging and pharmacopoeia. From superheroes with supernatural powers to monstrous hybrids, what is imagined is another body or the body of the other, the extraterrestrial. By returning to the fusion between the mechanical and the organic so dear to cyberpunks, the metamorphosed body redefines living. For example, in the animated film Ghost in the Shell by Matsumo Ooshii, a computer program asks to be recognized as an individual and demands political asylum. Technology constantly forces us to rethink and redefine what we are.

At the begining of the century, in his play R.U.R, the Czech playwright Karel Capek questioned the relationship between the human body and technology when faced with industrial production conditions. While Capek’s “robota” (the Czech word for worker) referred to an artificial organic human, the word robot has been taken to refer to a “mechanical” being. The latter has become a worldwide success, as witnessed by the Griffith collection toys produced in series.


Gianni Motti, The Messenger, 2003
Gianni Motti, The Messenger, 2003
 
In the relationship between design and science fiction this coupling between the mechanical and the organic underlines the difficulty of defining limits of what the body is. There is thus super-prothesis: New menus for new projects by the designer Dennis Santachiara (*1951, Italy). Inventing super-prothesis writes Santachiara, underlines a mutation of nature, similar to an extension of the desire by which society can no longer be relieved by functional improvements but demands a new aesthetic and means of communication and emotional gratification that are different from what has previously been offered by the world of design (…) It is the opportunity for a new design to emerge in which technological innovations (...) reveal the poetry and sensuality of an entirely artificial body.


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