Altered Identities in Hybrid BodiesDate: 22 April 2016
Speaker: John A Douglas
John A Douglas will be presenting current findings of his ongoing creative research development and practice that investigates the alteration of identity and sense of self as a renal transplant recipient. Using the seminal essay “L’Intrus” by Jean Luc Nancy, Douglas will attempt to navigate through the difficult and complex terrain of the transplant experience with emphasis on his altered immune signature which is the focus of his current residency at Symbiotica Lab.
John A Douglas is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice investigates through scientific and collaborative, immersive performance approaches, his ongoing experience of chronic illness and treatment. He offers a unique and personal perspective as both artist & patient that intersects with biomedical science, clinical treatment and his own human and emotional experience as a renal patient. In 2014,while recovering from renal transplant surgery, he put together a team of local and international artists and was awarded a Creative Australia Development grant by the Australia Council. He commenced an ongoing residency at Symbiotica Lab investigating the effects of anti-rejection drugs on his body and has established a research partnership with Ingrid Bachmann at Concordia University in Montreal. He was further awarded a an Australia Council New Work production grant in December 2015 and will be presenting a series of exhibitions from mid 2016. The project, titled Circles of Fire, will be presented iteratively over the next two years, and adds a third body of work to the trilogy exploring his lived experience as a renal patient.
Non-hylomorphic Bodies: Phantom Limb Experience, Immersive Virtual Reality and Gilbert SimondonDate: 29 April 2016
Speaker: Tom Keating
How do contemporary media technologies force us to redefine what we take to count as a human body? Social scientists and artists have reflected frequently on media technologies as a way of staging the various problems with modes of thought that take the human body to be a bounded locus of action and agency. These reflections include various posthumanisms, which have done much to highlight the contingent role of nonhuman technologies in the production of the human body. In such work, media technologies are variously utilised to develop a ‘genuine’ posthumanism that overcomes the distinction between human and nonhuman bodies (Morton 2013), or are discussed more critically in terms of the tendency to theorise media technologies as tools that enhance human life rather than opening thought up to life beyond the human (Colebrook 2012). In the context of these debates, this paper draws upon Gilbert Simondon’s philosophy of individuation to develop a non-hylomorphic theory of the body: as a metastable system of human and nonhuman (technological) individuation rather than a bounded organic substance. As non-hylomorphic, the human body is not so much a consolidated material container of life – where life is defined in terms of organismic renewal – but a system of individuation that defines life in terms of its potentialised incompatibility. The paper ends by considering recent research that uses immersive virtual reality technology as a way to reduce phantom limb pain (Pettifer et al., 2012), so as to stage some of the problems and promises of a non-hylomorphic theory of the body for generating a counter-humanising mode of thought.
Tom Keating is a Human Geography PhD Student at the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol. He is currently in residence at Perth Centre For Photography.