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Themesicon: navigation pathCyborg Bodiesicon: navigation pathMythical Bodies I

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«A Cyborg Manifesto» that «[a] cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction,» [2] then we automatically try to translate this definition into images. How are we to imagine these hybrids? What place do they have in our social reality, in our fictions? If they «are,» that is if they are already both here as well as there, should it not then be possible to recognize and describe them as cyborgs?<p/>

‹Recognizing› of course requires knowledge about what is to be recognized. We will have to ask about characteristics that allow us to recognize—and identify—cyborgs. And then when we have developed ideas about cyborgs and want to communicate them, we will have to give them characteristics that likewise allow others to recognize cyborgs. However, these characteristics do not develop graphicness until they can be linked with vivid ideas. Vivid ideas require contours in order to be able to take off as figures and become perceptible. Still, this says little about the course of the contours and the shape that produces ideas. And yet it says a lot, namely that we give them a body.


The idea of a body that is a hybrid of machine and organism allows us to virtually imagine—and this principal potential should be kept in mind—an almost endless spectrum of possible embodiments. [3]

… the image of humans? Cyborg bodies and their contours

In view of the space of possibilities, it may at first seem strange that a conspicuously large number of the cyborg configurations we encounter in art have more or less human contours. This has historical and mythological reasons, in which on the other hand history and myth are considerably intermixed.

First of all, let us refer back to the birth of the term «cyborg.» «The Cyborg study is the study of man.» This is the powerful first sentence of the final report by the same name that was submitted by a working group to NASA on May 15, 1963. Its subtitle was equally as striking: «Engineering man for space.» [4] When in 1960 Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline gave their idea the name «cyborg,» it was actually a matter of imagining a future human—a human capable of surviving in space. [5] Something decisive would

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