Technoscience is increasingly present in our daily lives, establishing new social rules and patterns of communication and interaction in a physical space which implements electronic devices and telematic systems in its design. In the race for scientific progress, the goal is making man a God, like Nietzsche’s Superman, without determining how the new human morphology will be fitted. This paradigm is treated by artists who warn of the possible fate of humanity while the technoscientific, as if he/she was Prometheus, dares to defy the laws of nature. Art exposes the actual course of science. Some artists complain that the false promises of scientific discourse, which is dominated by male vision, fails to be aware of the impossibility that technology is going to improve the moral dimension of human being. Some artists say the science sermon does not deal with humanity and the building of our future is merely phallocentric; an excessive anthropocentric vision.
Intro: Post-corporal Visions in the XIX Century
In The Craftsman, Richard Sennett explores the literary figure of Frankenstein drawing on the experimental studies of Luigi Galvani, who utilized electric currents on frogs and various other animals. These works demonstrated the existence of an “electric animal flow” that gave muscles movement. This was a groundbreaking discovery at the time given that the possibilities announced over corporal issues such as energy, life, and death were unusual. Positivism toward a scientific future was a clear symptom of Romanticism, and with said discoveries scientists were considered prophets. Science signaled humanity’s progress, this being the largest common feature of the romantic understanding of nature and science through the transgression of the rules hitherto used. Years later, in 1803, Giovanni Aldini, Galvani’s nephew, published the results of similar experiments using the cadavers of criminals. At the end of the XVIII Century, Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of the theorist of modern evolution, dealt with similar questions in “The Temple of Nature”. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1816 at 19 years old. The text was the product of a simple game, a pastime that led her to develop a horror story. The Creature, a being larger and more powerful than any human, was created thanks to doctor Victor Frankenstein. Curiously, this inordinate being longed to be loved by the people, but his appearance terrorized the town. Once rejected, the anguished Creature kills the doctor’s younger brother, his best friend, and his woman.
- Paz Tornero is new media artist and researcher in Art-Science-Technology, Ph.D. Candidate Fine Arts Studies, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.
Full text (PDF) p. 151-156
Translated from Spanish by Isabel Porras, Ph.D. Candidate Cultural Studies, UC Davis, US