Hacking the Body through AT & Art

When you enter an Italian cathedral and see the undulating and spiraling lines of columns and sculptures by Bernini, a sense of natural and organic beauty overcome you. Although it may just be a column to support a roof, or a statue that serves as an anecdote, it is also a device to express an appreciation for creation. In assistive technology, the same approach of beautifully crafted design can elevate the user of devices from just a generic adaptation–an anonymous consumer of a mass produced good–to being an esteemed patron, tailored and enhanced bionically in order to take up that glorious pursuit of social contribution.

In this essay, I’d like to explore the ways that “assistive technology” is actually the precursor and frontier of bionics in all aspects of exoskeleton, mobilizers, sensory technology and even adaptive fashions from the basis of physiopsychosocial aspects and then delve into the design and production aspects of the future of AT, including contemporary research, companies and some of my own conceptual projects.

History of adaptive technology for general human limitations
Our individual capacities are limited
-Human physiology
-Stages of development
-Delusion of “ability” and “autonomy”

Craftsmanship of early AT for disabilities
Although sometimes technologically “crude” more often than not, sophisticated and tailored AT was the trend pre-industrialization
-George Washington’s teeth
-Aristocratic tools of earlier centuries

Age of mass reproduction and the loss of craftsmanship and tailoring
Large scale militarization and industrialization and the movement to outsource the labor sector has cost quality craftspeople and programs that ensured tailored attention although accomodating the mass market.
-Generic disability products abound
-Customization is limited by manufacturing standards.
-Cheap cost production and limited producers limit ergonomics.

New technology and exceptionally tailored AT
Those in the VR counseling field can reach out and coordinate with design schools, crafts people and engineers of institutions to share direct input on the tailorings dignosed disabled people need in order to achieve.
-Aimee Mullins and her crafted legs
-Fine arts, fashion and technology
-Science fiction as an archetype for invention

Body art, adornment and beautification as AT therapeutics for amputees and disfiguration
-Alex Minsky and Michael Stokes photography

Goals of AT for people working in the VR industry.
VR counselors must use a forward thinking approach utilizing the science fiction world and the archetype of directors, authors and engineers of vocational human capacity
-understand the social and psychological power of tech
-comprehend the power of aesthetics socially and psychologically
-internalize how clothes and trappings can “make the man” especially in non-casual environments.


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