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Themesicon: navigation pathCyborg Bodiesicon: navigation pathMythical Bodies I
Mythical Bodies I
Cyborg configurations as formations of (self-)creation in the fantasy space of technological creation (I): Old and new mythologies of ‹artificial humans›
Verena Kuni


Cyborgs are hybrid creatures—not only as crosses between machine and organism, but also as constructs in which individual as well as social perceptions and projections, realities and fictions fuse together. If one looks at the images in which fantasies of cyborgs find concrete expression, at first they appear to fit smoothly into the history of artificial creations. This can be particularly exemplified by their form: Like their precursors in the literature and art of former centuries, it is striking how many cyborg configurations [1] —in the arts as well as in popular culture—are modeled after the human (body) image. But what distinguishes them as creatures of an age marked by rapid developments in the areas of information and biotechnology from the artificial humans of the past? What expression do the «promises of monsters» (D. Haraway), which are associated with these developments, find in the images we have of artificial creations in human form? What can cyborg configurations as formations of (self-)creation in the fantasy space of technological creation tell us about our image of humans? Against the background of these questions, this two-part essay deals with the


continuities and discontinuities that can be observed when one views current cyborg configurations in the field of tension between old and new phantasms of the creation of ‹artificial humans.› Part I introduces the old and new mythologies of the ‹artificial human› one encounters in historical and contemporary texts and images from literature and the arts, all the way to popular science fiction. Under the headword «Mythical Bodies II,» part II directs its focus on the monstrous promises and posthuman anthropomorphisms of stories of technological creation as reflected in computer-generated visions in contemporary art and our current game culture.

In the beginning there was…

In the beginning there was an idea that had to take shape. Or more accurately: Each and every idea longs to take shape. It is not only this that brings an idea to life, but also what makes it communicable. It is form that lends it reality, which it already potentially has. This is why cyborg fantasies and cyborg configurations are steadfastly linked to one another.

When Donna Haraway writes at the beginning of «A

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