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Themesicon: navigation pathCyborg Bodiesicon: navigation pathMythical Bodies I

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What connects the digital technologies with genetic technology, at least at a metaphorical level, and at the same time constitutes the ‹tertium comparationis› to the phantasms of ‹artificial humans› handed down through cultural history is the suggestive promise to be able to discover and reproduce the formula of ‹life› itself: to create life. [30]

Living images

Genetic technology is associated with the art and cultural historical tales of ‹artificial humans› because it indirectly deals with the artificial manufacture of organic life—while it directly manipulates the genetic ‹code,› i.e. operates at the level of a ‹program,› which in turn allows it to be more easily associated with the digital technologies. The mixing of technological paradigms may be inadmissible—it is nevertheless significant. Thus the short circuit from biological to digital technology and to the simulation of artificial life in a ‹virtual reality› can reveal to us that in the discourses on genetic technology the issue is less one of endowing life with matter than it is of mobilizing images: the issue is the propagation of a particular


image of humans. In this sense, both technologies actually have something in common: Not only in that they appear to reproduce where they actually reproduce something, but also in that they appear to produce where they are reproducing something: Viz. precisely that normative image of the human that with respect to gender concepts also transports traditional norms.

The association of both technologies with the mythological narrations that tell of the artificial or the artistic animation of bodies fits into this context: What Dr. Frankenstein (acting for the legendary scientist) and Pygmalion (acting for the mythological artist) stand for is the creation of artificial life by endowing dead matter with life: in Frankenstein's case out of flesh, in Pygmalion's case out of stone. Strictly speaking, here it can also be said that images are being endowed with life. [31]

As will become clear in the following, in rereading the old stories and in summoning back their moving images, however, it is not solely an issue of the prehistory or early history of reproductive technologies, which compete with the biological (and sexual) reproduction of human life.

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