THE BODY ISSUE
The week of April 26, 2015

The augmented, customizable human body

By Jesse Hicks

“Fleshy machine.” That’s how Descartes once described the human body. Today’s biohackers and transhumanists would likely agree. For them the body is a biological machine we’re chanced to be born into, and there’s nothing to keep us from changing it, to enhance or heal, or simply on a whim.

Performance artist Stelarc sculpts a human ear on his forearm. Bilateral amputee and activist Aimee Mullins chooses her lower legs from a dozen different pairs. One man puts a camera in his eye socket, another in his fingertip. A dying man’s heart is replaced with a thrumming turbine, creating the first human to live without a pulse.

All of it shows that body isn’t just a cage. We can rebuild it. We have the technology. Welcome to the dawning age of the posthuman body.

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Illustration and infographic by J. Longo