Since we first took mastery over fire, mankind has steadily been shaping his world around him.
It may have taken us a few thousand years to get from building walls, pyramids and roads to the microchip and spaceships, but the colossal innovation of the last 100 years shows just how quickly we have accelerated our development.
Now the Wellcome Collection is celebrating how humanity has developed - and specifically, how we have been able to alter our own bodies, with a summer exhibition to coincide with the Olympics.
Visitors are first introduced to Icarus, the Greek myth of a mortal who symbolises the exhibition with his fabled attempt to overcome his own weakness through technology and fly - although, with disastrous results.
‘Superhuman’ brings together over 100 artworks, artefacts, videos, photographs, comics and medical objects which record our seemingly limitless desire to be more than ourselves.
From an ancient Egyptian prosthetic toe to the superheroes of sci-fi imagination and the futuristic promises of nano- and biotechnology, the exhibition takes a long view of physical and chemical enhancement and explores the science, myths and cultural reception of body extension.
Rebecca Horn’s delicately menacing appendages in ‘Scratching both walls at once’ (1974-5) examine the body’s occupation of space, and video works by Charlotte Jarvis, Regina José Galindo and Floris Kaayk explore the cultural effects of cosmetic surgery on our psyches and the extremities of potential and actual physical intervention.
Meanwhile Revital Cohen takes the replacement of body parts to an endpoint in ‘The Immortal’ (2011), an arrangement of connected life-support machines that continue their biological functions despite the absence of a human body to sustain.
Emily Sargent, Curator of Superhuman, said: ’Human enhancement is one of the most exciting and feared areas of modern science, where sci-fi imaginings seemingly come alive. But it is not the exclusive preserve of the contemporary technologist, as our desire to enhance ourselves and our ingenuity to do so is in evidence throughout our history.’
A prosthetic hand is exhibited: Another way man has been able to overcome Nature.
Now we can fix ourselves: A prosthetic leg is exhibited at the exhibition, which focuses on the many ways mankind have sought to improve, adapt or enhance their body’s performance
Undercover: A prosthetic penis, which was used to help cheat at drugs test, joins the very modern Viagra pill.
"Whole Brain Emulation is going to create synthetic humans, if the functionalist point of view is right, by implementing their thought processes in forthcoming hardware, and software systems, which could arrive as early as the middle of this century. What are the rights of these uploads? How will their existence impact our economy, and the society as a whole? Anders Sandberg of the Future Of Humanity Institute of the University of Oxford talks about these issues"
Ray Bradbury - Icarus Montgolfier Wright - Format Films 1962
UK hospital accused of selling body parts for booze 2014 07 31 A leading cancer hospital is to be investigated following allegations that one of its staff members exchanged human body samples for whisky and cash.
The calls to investigate Christies NHS foundation trust came after the accusation was made by an anonymous whistleblower, prompting British MP Rosie Cooper to contact the watchdog, the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), the Manchester Evening News reports.
15 dead, over 220 injured as multiple gas explosions hit Taiwan city 2014 07 31
Several blasts have ripped through Kaohsiung, a city in south-western Taiwan, killing 15, injuring over 220 and overturning the cars in the street, the Fire Agency said. The cause is thought to be gas leaks in the sewage system.
The number of those injured is expected to rise, the Fire Department said. Many were also taken to schools across the city ...
TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR on front page of alleged U.S. criteria for terrorist list 2014 07 31 We highlighted the recent report from Glenn Greenwald’s site, The Intercept, about the United States administration’s ’Terror Watch List’, and how "a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database".
Read: BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
A reader with a sharp ...
Why is the State so obsessed by, and careless with, deadly pathogens? 2014 07 31 Earlier this month, we ran a report on the CDC anthrax blunder. As if that weren’t bad enough, there have been additional exposures since we posted that report. This time, it involved the shipment of live, highly contagious, and deadly H5N1 avian influenza samples.
As previously reported, as many as 841 scientists and staff members at a US Centers for Disease ...
‘Catastrophic’: Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer warns of EMP 2014 07 31
Imminent: ‘Only a matter of time’ until entire electric grid destroyed by natural or man-made event…
Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer is warning investors – and more broadly, lawmakers and leaders – about the potential destructive power of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which could be triggered by solar events or artificially, via blasts in the atmosphere.
According to Singer, research ...