BioArt in Berlin: Making Dystopia Beautiful with Prostheses and the Transhuman Life

08/01/2016 - 4 minutes

I met the curators of a BioArt Gallery in Berlin very recently and they invited me to their latest of exhibition ‘Prostheses: Transhuman Life’ by the Artist Susanna Hertrich.

The exhibition, hosted by Christian De Lutz and Regine Rapp (the wonderfully warm curators of Art Laboratory Berlin) presented ‘wearable tech’ devices made to trigger emotions, as well as just physiological responses, in the wearer. Indeed, in Susanna’s own words, these pieces were designed to ‘invoke a social criticism as well as well as showing an outlook into an alternative future‘.

For example, ‘Jacobson’s Fabulous Olfactometer’ is a sensorial prosthesis that mimics the mammalian ‘flehmen response’ when high air pollution levels are present.  So, when the device detects a dangerous level of pollution the prosthesis curls back the wearer’s top lip, exposing teeth and mimicking a common reflex observed in many mammals (such as the Amazonian Tapir).

I asked Susanna on the choice as leather as being the prosthesis support (given the striking colour and ‘Old Western’ feel with which it associated) as being a little contradictory with the trope of human prosthesis and Cyborgs.

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