Prosthetic Envy | Virtual Futures Salon

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Lights of Soho

35 Brewer Street

London

W1F 0RX

United Kingdom

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Prosthetic envy describes the condition under which someone might claim to be willing to remove a perfectly healthy limb in order to replace it with a bionic or machinic equivalent.

As artificial limbs and assistive devices become increasingly sophisticated they have evolved from symbols of loss into desirable design objects. Recent developments in materials science, processor speeds and myoelectrics mean that new prosthetic devices exemplify the latest in technological development. This technological potency is rapidly creating a new relationship between the users of prosthetics and their 'unenhanced' beholders.

Amputees are already opting to remove healthy tissue to make room for more powerful bionics or to allow for a more intimate integration with their prosthetics. This contrasts with the traditional narrative in which orthopedic surgeons have considered amputation the equivalent of failure - the aim of medical professionals is to save as much of a damaged, injured, or diseased limb as possible.

Additionally, some amputees are opting to have their current artificial limbs upgraded with additional functions (such as a mobile phone charger) or with aesthetic enhancements (such as ornate 3D-printed covers or LED lights). Such embellishments reframe these devices as fashion statements and further drive the possibilities of and desire for self-enhancement.

But these prosthetic promises must be approached with scepticism. Prosthetic limb users note that current devices are still inconvenient. The current interfaces between the device and human body can often cause pain and abrasions on the skin and the prosthetic is prone to break. As such, it is important to acknowledge the limits of these devices before pointing to prosthetics as an early example of the sorts of tools that might enable an enhanced future human.

What does it really mean to have machinery incorporated into the body schema? How does upgrade culture operate on the body? Where does the techno-fetishism for prosthetics originate? What might drive an individual to have their limbs removed or replaced with bionic equivalents?

Panelists

Nigel Ackland, Pioneering Pilot of the bebionic Prosthetic (@NigelAckland)

Nicky Ashwell, First User (UK) of the bebionic small (@NickyAshwell)

Cathrine Disney, BIOFUTURES Lab Curator (@CathrineDisney)

James A.H. Young, Collaborator on the Phantom Limb Project (@JamesAHYoung)

Luke Robert Mason, Director of Virtual Futures (Moderator) (@LukeRobertMason)

Plus, a special performance from Virtual Futures' Near-Future Fiction Author in Residence:

Stephen Oram, Near-Future Fiction Author (@OramStephen)

About the Venue


The Lights of Soho, London’s newest art gallery and member’s lounge, is now open, operating as a cultural hub for Soho’s creative community and the global home of creative neon and light art formats.

Find out more: http://lightsofsoho.com

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Follow the debate on Twitter here:
#VFSalon
@VirtualFutures

More Information


Virtual Futures is a Community Interest Company (CIC). Tickets sales help to cover costs of speaker travel, filming and documentation.

Discount Codes


Discounts available for Lights of Soho Members & Press.

Contact info@virtualfutures.co.uk for Codes.

Date and Time

Location

Lights of Soho

35 Brewer Street

London

W1F 0RX

United Kingdom

View Map

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