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18th June, 2019

Cyborg Futures

The Culture Capital Exchange

Event Details

18th June, 2019
14:00 - 17:00
Middlesex University
The Burroughs, Hendon
£0 - £25

Contributors include:
Professor Richard Bayford (Professor of Bioengineering, Middlesex University)
Ghislaine Boddington
(RESCEN and Creative Director, Body>Data>Space)
Dr Mark Gray
(Middlesex University)
Rosanna McNamara (Project Co-ordinator Culture, KCL) 
Carl Smith
(Learning, Technology Research Centre, Ravensbourne University London)
Event Chair: Evelyn Wilson (Co-Director, TCCE)

In 2017, The Culture Capital Exchange launched our Arts and Health Forum as a discussion and knowledge exchange platform for member researchers and staff as well as those working in the arts, cultural sectors and/or health related fields. So far the forum has hosted several events acting as a mini-hub within TCCE to create informal spaces for researchers working broadly within these subject areas to share their research, connect with colleagues, share work with new audiences and explore future collaborative possibilities.

On June 18th we will be holding an afternoon workshop entitled Cyborg Futures that sets out to present a number of presentations and perspectives on this theme. The event will start with the following proposition: The future of healthcare and medical treatment lies inside our bodies.

Increasingly we are looking to implantation as a means of delivering medication, assistive technology, and replacements for key functions of the human body. These technologies, though, aren’t merely replacing base functionality – like replacement hips that offer to restore mobility. They are often inventing new modes of human functioning, allowing our bodies to do things they can’t do currently or they have ‘forgotten’ to do. Cochlear implants, ingestible microsensors to control automated drug perfusion, Parkinson’s tremor suppression implants, deep brain stimulation devices for dystonia, depression and epilepsy are all here now; ‘bionic eyes’ and ‘neural dust motes’ will soon be with us. There are developments in prosthetics linked to and controlled by the brain, and extensions to human functioning of the type famously trialled by Prof Kevin Warwick, known as ‘Captain Cyborg’, in which we’ll ‘feel’ remote sensations mediated by computer networks.

So what does it mean to be human when part of you isn’t human but ‘machine’? What will being human mean when ‘human beings’ can shape their own potential – and possibly even improve the performance of their bodies – through implantation? Is ‘being cyborg’ – a melding of organic and mechatronic parts of a functioning human body – the future of the human race? If so, what does this mean for the arts and humanities? Will artists in future be reflecting not on the human condition, but on ‘the cyborg state’?

In this workshop, we will bring together researchers working on: brain-computer interface, deep brain stimulation technologies and functional implantables with arts and humanities scholars, artists, designers and others interested in these developments. We’ll consider the notion of ‘a cyborg future’ and explore how artists and scientists can work together to prepare us for it.

We’ll aim to: shape projects that focus on the theme, begin the search for funding to conduct it, and decide on strategies for identifying and securing it, with the longer-term aim of building a viable consortium of researchers, artists and creative practitioners to explore this fascinating theme.

We plan to allocate time for a small number of Lightning Talk contributions from attendees. If you are a funding body who would like to talk about upcoming opportunities, please do get in touch. Proposals will be reviewed by the organisers and we will be in touch by mid-May.


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