Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathCyborg Bodiesicon: navigation pathMythical Bodies I

icon: previous page

to those cyborg myths that would like to see flesh equipped by the art of technology. However, what distinguishes modern variations of the Pygmalion legend is the fact that the modern creatorartist- engineer is no longer dependent upon the mercy of the gods, but he understands how to endow his artificial woman with life himself.

This connects her with the tales of another thread which also leads to the cyborgs; and although it originally knew no female creators, it did know male creatures. This thread, too, begins in myth and religion: Here we find

«Adam Kadmon,» the primordial man out of clay—and the «golem,» whom Rabbi Low created out of clay after the model of the first man. [25] In her feminist science fiction novel «He, She and It»—one of the texts that inspired Donna Haraway to write her «Cyborg Manifesto»—Marge Piercy interwove the story of the golem with that of a cyborg in order to expose the trail that leads into modernity. [26] Piercy's «golem»—like that in the legend—is created as a dimwitted helper, as a simple-minded fighting machine that does not learn to be a dangerous being until it has learned to be like


a human. In this respect he resembles—in contrast by the way to her cyborg «Yod,» whose artificial intelligence is trained by a woman who makes him into a being gifted with both reason and empathy [27] —the main character in one of the most well known tales of artificial humans: The ‹monster› in Mary Shelley's «Frankenstein» is the first creature not to be ‹born› under the sign of art, but under that of modern (natural) science. [28] And it is the first creature that deserves to be called a «cyborg»: Because here, human flesh is revitalized by means of technology; an organism is technologically endowed with life.

Stories of creation, revisited

Against this background it is no wonder the under the sign of cyborg configurations, the old stories of ‹artificial humans› are also celebrating a boom—in the arts as well as in popular culture. [29] But where are the decisive ‹interfaces› of this cultural heritage between the developments in the area of digital technologies on the one hand, and in the sector of genetic or biotechnologies on the other hand, which have so obviously contributed their fair share to this boom?

icon: next page