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The Body Performances of Stelarc
For nearly forty years now, Australian performance artist Stelarc has explored ideas around the capacity and capabilities of the human body. The main idea that has been underneath many of his projects is that the human body is obsolete. He likes to do performance pieces that demonstrate new ways that the body can interact with technology.
Taking his performance name from the first three letters of the first and last names of his birth name, Stellios Arcadiou, Stelarc studied art and technology in Australia, where he had moved from his birthplace of Greece. His vision of using technology in conjunction with the human body was very forward-thinking at the time and many of the ideas for his later performances were conceived many years before the actual technology to realize them existed.
He first drew international attention with performances in the late 1960s in which he did flesh hook suspensions in art galleries. It's interesting that forty years later, such activities have become popular among the now-mainstream body art movement. At the time, many considered the suspensions to be disturbing and even shocking, although like their modern counterparts he appeared calm and in no pain during the events and photos of the time show him hanging serenely with no visible blood. These pieces were about exploring the idea (literally) of the body in space, and the artist likens the act of suspension to human dreams of flying or astronauts in zero gravity.
Later performances included pieces where he had electrodes implanted into major muscle groups which were then controlled by robots or computer. In the 1990s, he did a performance such as this where the sensors were hooked up to the Internet. In 2007, his ideas of virtual bodies or limbs led to the artist having an ear cell-cultured from some of his own body cells, and then implanted to the skin on the side of his left forearm.
To learn more about Stelarc, you can visit the artist's official website.
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