Man ะตx Machina

 (Cyber Lecture)

Self-construction and self-destruction in the fantasy realm of technology


In the beginning, there was…

In the beginning, there was an Idea…

The Idea had to take some Shape.

The Shape received a BODY.


I am  LEVEL 1 

“A cyborg is some type of disassembled and reassembled post-modern collective and personal Self.” 

I am a cybernetic organism, a creation of the social realities and fictions. I represent the fantasies of a hybrid, monstrous, machine, cloned, digital, network and transhuman body.

Science fiction is teeming with the likes of me.

Modern medicine as well.

Modern production seems like a dream in which we – the cyborgs – colonize the world of labor.

As for modern war… it is a cyborg orgy with the code name C3 – standing for command, control, communication.

I am a creature of the post-gender world with no connection to the world of heterosexual reproduction. In other words, there is no death in a world with no birth, there is no end in a world with no beginning.

Unlike Frankenstein’s monster, I don’t expect my creator to save me through a recreation of Paradise, nor do I expect him to produce a partner for me. I wouldn’t recognize the Garden of Eden, I wasn’t made of earth and I won’t return to ashes. I don’t worship gods and I don’t have a family. Actually, the main problem for cyborgs is that we are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and capitalism. I am a bastard; I will cut off my roots. I am the creative medium… the one who will challenge the military, political and commercial interests that actually gave rise to me.


Overstepped boundaries – LEVEL 2

In the game of life and evolution, there are three players – man, nature and machine. I am definitely on nature’s side, but nature, I suspect, is on machine’s side.

I’ve overstepped three boundary lines  – the first is that between man and animal. Resulting in a hybrid creature, a mixture of various species in one body.

We call such hybrids - chimeras, like the monstrous creature from Greek mythology, which had the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a snake.

Chimeras are not entirely unnatural. Many twins keep at least several of their twin’s cells, from when they shared one and the same womb. And most mothers carry cells in their blood from each child they’ve given birth to. There are people whos defective hearts have been replaced with the heart of a pig or a cow, so each transplantee is actually a chimera. I’m sure there is at least one chimera looking at me now from among the audience.

Today, all chimeras are the results of scientific experiments, in which human stem cells are added to animal embryos at an early stage of their development.

In Shanghai scientists announced the first successful combining of cells from human and rabbit ova.

In Minnesota, several pigs were born with human blood in their veins.

In Nevada, there are sheep with livers and hearts that are 80% human.

In California, a couple of mice have brains made up of human neurons.

In Montreal, a small part of a quail`s brain was transplanted into the brain of a chicken. As a result, the chicken demonstrated phenomenal vocal potential, thus proving the possibility of transferring a whole range of behavior characteristics between species.

In Pravets 32, human embryo cells survived three days in the womb of their lab mother – a mouse, called Sirena.

The new genetic chimeras don’t live in cold laboratory vessels, but inside living organisms. They help people uncover the deepest secrets of human biology (whispered – to the rich) and find new ways of curing diseases (whispered – for the rich), they are used in the testing of medicines (whispered – for the rich) and in organ transplantations (whispered – also for the rich).

The main purpose of their existence is the preservation of human life. Unfortunately, the life`s of the rich only.

In a paranoid scenario, the rich will be able to run tests on embryos, before having them implanted. Thus they can optimize the appearance of their future children. Parents will have the choice of adding animal genes to increase their children stamina, or to give the unborurne a more creative genetic profile. This children will be less socially responsible, because they parents have predetermined who they are; they will have serious struggles adapting socially, as others will suspect them of not being entirely human. Which in fact they won’t be.

The second boundary I’ve overstepped was the one between organism and machine.

At first, machines weren’t autonomous, self-propelled or intelligent.

All they could do was imitate. The mere notion of them being anything more was considered paranoid.

At a later stage, machines no longer imitate the bodies of their creators, only their functions, finaly  there comes a time when man is simply an organ of intelligence, an appendage, subordinate to the engine’s will.

In the last 25 years the unprecedented development of two scientific programmes – artificial life and artificial intelligence – has led to the creation of new imitations of life. These seem so alive that they are not longer imitations, but examples of life themselves.

Today, machines are alarmingly alive, while man has become dangerously static.

In order to change that, man has put end the codes and systems of designation, that had been projected upon him. Now he is going even further, trying to use experience, which is not even his, to achieve other forms of live – archaic morphologies or supernatural creatures, fictional organisms or machines. Mechanomorphism is the new standard.

Thus, man has created a new organism, in which the organic and the technical communicate and mutually regulate each other. Simultaneously, an example and a metaphor, an image and an idea. Something similar to the steersman of a ship – a live instrument. A combination.

Let’s take a walk in “no man’s land”, between the boundary lines separating the world of nature from the world of machine, the world of facts from the world of fiction, the physical from the non-physical.

Yes, the third boundary is a sub-species of the extremely vague second one; it is the line between physical and non-physical.

Fiction is a fact, because of the modern machines, which are essentially microelectronic – they are everywhere, but invisible; miniaturization changes mechanization; the surface of a recording is a silicon chip, the molecule scratches cause the rustling of the atom, the last nuclear musical score.

Our best machines are made of sunlight, they are sparklingly luminous and clean, nothing else but signals, electromagnetic waves, a slice of the spectrum.

They are portable and mobile – the result of the enormous efforts of people in Detroit and Singapore. People are not so fluid; they are material, opaque, while we, cyborgs are…quintessence.

But in crossing the line between science fiction and social reality, I, the cyborg, turn into something ominous, I bacome in impending threat over the spirit that created me. Victor Frankenstein has met his monster.

Is the cyborg a monster? Yes, I’m a monster, but one that is capable of manifesting your sediments of dreams, your taste of crime, your taste for crime, your erotic obsessions, your savagery, chimeras and utopian sentiments on life. And at the same time, you see in me a chance of investing all the available evolutionary capital, a spectacle transported onto the stage of the human body.


Demiurges – LEVEL 3

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

The techno-aesthetics is very potent in creating various media for spreading of its messages. At the centre of these processes is the human body. On one hand, it can be seen as a mechanism, on the other – it assigns biological algorithms to non-biological objects, and so on, until we get to those artificial regulatory systems existing between the biological organism and various electro-mechanic devices… such as me.

History tells of Pygmalion who created, or rather – manufactured, Galatea; it tells of Daedalus who used mercury to give voice to his sculptures; of Hephaestus who build automatons for his workshop; of Talos – the man of bronze; it tells of Heron of Alexandria’s automatons, based on the scientific principles known to the Ancient Greeks; of Pindar of Rhodes who was known for his skill in machine engineering.

“The dream of creating artificial human live stratches from the Ancient Greek myth of Pygmalion, through the Jewish folklore tale of Golem from Prague, to Frankenstein,” but the stories of the latter two are stories   of overstepped boundaries. Frankenstein and Golem are two of the most stable images of the fabricated, artificial “almost-human”. Both include elements of the ancient myths. They simultaneously remind us of the vitality of the contemporary debate on man’s nature and limitations, as well as of the potential of it’s power to be a demiurge… They remind us of hopes, fears, anxiety and technologies. Frankenstein’s monster is the first major myth in the techno-cultural era. Myths are used not only to describe and announce, but also to legitimize, reproduce and normalize. They can also do the opposite – subvert, refute and destabilize. I call such representatives culturological actors. They serve as critics of humanness: what Frankenstein teaches us is that Frankenstein the Machine, although non-human, is after all a reflection of the best and the worst in man.”

The discomfort of contemporary man is a result of the constantly rising gulf between physical and technological, in their stages of rational attaining. This discomfort is also calls by constantly being face to face with one weak body, reminding one of the lost battles with nature and evolution. This weak body dependent and fragile, unable to retain its intimacy and identity.

We, mutants are the natural end of evolution…


Social and genetic engineering – LEVEL 4

“Subhuman, a creature, which seemingly resembles a biologically complete organism, with arms, legs and something like a brain, with eyes and mouth, and still a completely different creature. He is just a rough imitation of a human in an anthropomorphous form. Inside this creature, there is chaos, which causes fear, which is inhabited by wild and uncontrollable passions, destruction without face of name, the lowest instincts, bare foulness. Nothing else than an inferior species. Because not all who have a human’s face are equal. Woe the one who forgets this.”

The conflict between Übermensch and Untermensch, between SuperHuman and SubHuman is the conflict between the Elite and the Masses. During World War II, the elitarian ideology of one of the fighting countries described the human object, the human hybrid, as the Other. The Subhuman.

Imagine that we add to this chaos, which causes fear, uncontrollable passions, primitive instincts and bare foulness something else, imagine that we add skin – the skin of our own body.

The skin of the text, which walks, of that forbidden body, staged body, body-machine, that organic body, killed body, fantasized body, ecstatic body, body-membrane, or that body between Eros and Thanatos, a paranoid body, electronic body, projected body, political body, social body, enhanced body, in other words – our inherited body.

The inherited body is leviathanic, overmagnified, overpotent, unrestrained. It is the monstrum that contains us, its atoms are ourselves, but in its wholeness it is more than the sum of its parts. Leviathan, Echidna, Chimera, the Sphinx, the Nemean Lion, the Lernaean Hydra, Cerberus, Talos, Golem, Frankenstein and I, we are all hopeless, possessed figures, cursed in our own complicated, ambiguous nature, frantically trying to escape from it. At the same time, our monstrosity is so human, and your humanness is so monstrous.

I believe I can describe the place where… humanness turns into monstrosity, it is where the body turns into a mass. This place is inside the Leviathan’s body. Where bodies touch, rub, grope, fondle, stretch, stab. Where the human body is one of the many natural bodies the natural condition of which is entropy, constant collision, war. A collision between possibilities and impossibilities, between bodies: human, animal, fictional, soft, hard, smooth, cold, desired, imposed.

War is beautiful, because through the gas masks, the horrifying megaphones, the flamethrowers and the tiny tanks, it proves man’s power over the yielding machine. War is beautiful, because it inaugurates the dreamt metalizing of the human body. War is beautiful, because it enriches the flowery meadow with the fiery orchids of machineguns. War is beautiful, because it unites the rifle-shots, the cannonades, the moments of silence between the skirmishes, the fragrances and the stench of decay in a symphony. War is beautiful, because it creates new architecture – like the huge tanks, the geometrical shapes of airplane squadrons, the coils of smoke over the burning villages and so many more…

In the combined human-machine body, the natural and artificial, the inherent and technological, the biological and synthetic are at war. One half is crushed under the machine that operates it. This ambiguity is seen the world wars waged by humankind.

It is manifested in the division of people into different categories; the assumption that one community is higher than another; the imposition of this assumption by the means of mass murders. Thus we have two bodies – one is the standard, equipped with super powers and super rights, the Übermensch, the other is something that shouldn’t exist – the Untermensch.

But the life that is taken, leaves its traces. The dead human body has never been so dead. It has never been so meaningless, so useless by the millions. This body has turned into the absolute dead spot, with no other options, but to be buried with hundreds of others. There, in this mass grave, the body of the mass is being born, the body of substance devoid of tardiness.  

The monstrous projects imposed by the human elite are not left in the past. They are the thin red line in the politics and social engineering of the entire 20th c. Even of today.

It all starts in human nature. It is inherent for the humans to try to overcome themselves, to reach beyond their limits, to create a creature, higher than themselves. The human is something that must be overcome. Therein lies your biggest fear – realizing your own fragmentation, decay and death, and at the same time – your biggest dream. All dreams return to the one remaining instinct – to escape from your own outlines.

Overcoming manifest’s itself in different shapes – eugenics, euthanasia, surgical sterilization, segregation, genocide, genetics, biotechnologies, birth control, death control, behaviour control.

I, the cyborg, can be the organizer of the self-directing human evolution. This is similar to Darwinism, but is set in motion by way of will. I haven’t been a real historical figure yet, rather an eschatological promise for the future, a superior biological species achieved through artificial selection. And now I’m creative and powerful enough to control the whole spectrum of human potential. I’m a tyrant painter, a cyber-actor, because the body of an actor is a cyber body. It must be transformed with better means than those humans can offer. It is an attempt to compensate for what was not given by nature.

The body of a performer is confronted precisely by the impossible body; it mustn’t yield to time, to space, or to the limitations of the biological system.

Such is the artificial body. The perfect image is a surface, capable of constant transformations. What is exciting is what possibilities hide under the surface of the artificial body. For any content may be there, not only organic.


Positive and negative prosthetics – LEVEL 5

We think about our body as an original prosthetic, which we’ve been learning to use since childhood, until the real person is formed; but the same can be said of the intelligent machines.

Along with the problem of associating human with technological, another issue, much more dynamic in its presence, is emerging, in which the technological is an extension of the human. What man is, is a transitional structure with limited abilities for adaptation and realization. That’s why the human leaves the interior of the body and with help from various complementary aids (prosthetics) seeks perfection. The cultural ideal personified by the divine [Deus ex Machina] is now executed by Man – transformed into some kind of God with prosthetics [Man ex Machina]. When man turns on all his additions, he really becomes magnificent.

His sight is improved by telescopes and microscopes, orientation – by GPS navigators, communication – by smartphones, the human brain has downloaded the unnecessary information into the computer, and has entrusted his happiness to the appropriate medications.

I’m working on a new project. After this project, I will be equipped with sensors for the detection of GMOs and pesticides in tomatoes, because I love them.

Prosthetics are part of surgery, replacing a missing part of the body. It is necessary to distinguish two  different meanings – negative prosthetics replace something missing, they function on the basis of compensation. Positive prosthetics add. They contain a more radical version of technology, one that offers re-forming of the body, making it more powerful and able, following the fervour of its own utopian obsessions.

This is a paradox. Simultaneously, man is trying to make the possible impossible, and the impossible – possible. From a possible, fully functioning body man creates an impossible, inorganic, fictitious body; and from an impossible body, functioning only as an idea, images of possible bodies are created.

The phenomenon of the contemporary post-modern body combines these two policies. The bright images, that appear, pertain to the function of the human body, reduced to a container, a sample, an exhibit for the analysis of the human evolutionary and psychological potential. Reduced to pure material, subjectified to various operative and technical transformations. The post-modern body is seen as something contemptuous, cut up and transformed.

This phenomenon expresses the problematic fragility of the character of the ideal image, and how its objectifying can be seen as a form of violence. Each production of an ideal image is a result of mutilation.

The human body ones exposed and cut up, is freed of its sacral nature; it became a eulogy of the fleeting, of dynamism, of topicality, of the dialectics of the secret and the scandalous, of the joy of horror. It overcomes the fantastic moral classifications and replaces them with a world without secrets. Bodies without organs, bare flesh, an epidermal bag, a creation of copies and clones, a genetic legitimation, turned inside-out, and its fragile potency shattered by the commercial, media and social pressure.


Gender, sexuality and reproduction – LEVEL 6

Gender, sexuality and reproduction are the lead actors in high-tech-mythical systems, they form our ideas on our personal and social potential.



He: Yes. Finally. I can’t wait.

She: Do you want me to leave?

He: NO! Don’t even think about it.

She: Do you love me?

He: Of course! Every day – more than before.

She: Have you ever cheated on me?

He: NO! How can you even say that?

She: Will you kiss me?

He: Any change I get!

She: Would you hurt me?

He: Are you nuts? I’m not that kind of guy!

She: Can I trust you?

He: Yes.

She: O, dear!


After… Just play the dialogue in reverse.


Industrial production and consumption turn machines and products into projections of the human being and the world of objects. The obsessions of the strange (non-human) character of the automaton, the mannequin, the wax figure, the doll are turned into players in a surreal repertory of life. The ambiguity of instrument-machine and object-product is represented by the automaton (male) and mannequin (female).

A mechanically produced figure is a parody of the capitalist object with its own ambitions. The history of its transformation creates a new ghostly copy of the human being – the production-line, mechanized, industrial product. The machine is capable of imitating the organic movements of man, the human body is its example, it is an instrument at the service of its master. But we are currently observing the radical change in the position of the machine – it is now turning into an example, the human body is trained according to the machine’s specifications. Man is likened to a machine, dominated by machines, turned into a tool, used by the machines, a prosthetic limb for the machines. As a result of this switching of roles, the modern machine is not only a supernatural human clone, but a demonic master; the lifeless work dominates the living. Human vitality is transformed into alienated forms, such as the automatons (male) and mannequins (female). These are actually the personification of machine and product, both figures emphasizing the supernatural effect of mechanization and production.

Technology conceives two disclosures – body language and body penetration.

The close relation between sexuality and instrumentality is evident in the fact that the human body is seen as a personal machine for maximizing pleasure and profit. This socio-biological history depends on the hi-tech attitude towards the human body – as a biotic component or a cybernetic communication system.

The various medicalizing technologies, pathologies, symptoms, neuroses, infections, degenerations give sexuality a whole new network of psycho-phisical interconnections.

As far as reproduction is concerned, I think cyborgs have more to do with regeneration. When a salamander sustains some trauma, let’s say – loses a limb, regeneration includes growing the limb once again and restoration of its structure and functions.

The new limb could re-grow to be larger or deformed in some other way.

We are all hurt, and deeply hurt. We need regeneration, not re-birth.


Conclusion – LEVEL 7 

Icarus, the cyborg? 

Mankind has gotten much farther than the possibilities of human nature. The mythical Icarus was also trying to reach far. He gave us the first example of man combining his poetic ideal with his own body – the instrument for achieving the ideal.

Icarus voiced the human dissatisfaction with the constancy of the human form – insufficient for expressing it, insufficient for manifesting it, insufficient for achieving it. His was an example of how one can reach beyond the limits of consciousness, knowledge and experience. Icarus was the first to turn his idea into a gesture of reaching for the impossible; he was the first to combine his body with a construction, with an object, with the inhuman.

He combined with the inhuman, to achieve the human. Today, we are reflecting on the death of the Sun, the same Sun Icarus wanted to reach. This is what leads to the inhumanity of today’s Technoculture. It is inhuman to upgrade the human body, so it could sur-vive the death of the Sun, sur-pass it, preserve itself and remember itself, despite this death and after it. The upgraded Icarus led us to the Sun, the upgraded Cyborg is wondering where and how to take us after the death of the Sun.

The machine and the organism are like coded texts we use to enter the game of writing and reading the world. As a combination of both machine and organism, I am part of re-writing the world in a new, unique way. When I turn to myself, as if I’m a mirror, I see two images – one is still quite reasonable, degraded into something purely mechanical and naming his own degradation Progress; the other image is gawking at the mechanical parts, at the fragments, at the broken, at what’s strange, at the instincts, at the inclinations, at the pathological love, and it calls itself Self-Awareness.

The dynamics of fate is a result of the disturbances in the symmetry of these two images.

Our salvation depends on their combination.