| Cassandra Sechler's
interests lie in subcultures, "freaks," technology, science, and what
defines beauty and normalcy in our society.
In her most recent project, she has devoted her time in learning
about and being inspired by those who have triumphed in using
technology to enhance their lives and selves.
The idealism of beauty and perfection in our society as well as our
increasing obsession with technology unites in Belle Nouveau.
Jackson, first "living doll"
Cindy Jackson, who still holds the guiness world record for
having the most plastic surgery, said it best regarding plastic surgery
as a means to an end of achieving beauty goals: “There are so many
people who are being held back
by their looks, and if that can help give them a better quality of life
and make them happier – what else is more important in life?” Jackson
finally feels that after years of altering her face and body that she
has reached all of her goals and is ready to concentrate on new things.
Many people have benefited from both cosmetic and reconstructive
successful face transplant subject
|Connie Culp was shot in
the face by her husband, leaving her face severely disfigured.
experimental plastic surgery, doctors were able to give Culp
"new" face from a dead person.
The strength that this woman has to continue is an amazing
showcase of adaptability to the drastic transformation made possible by
|Other people use
plastic surgery to achieve a purpose beyond facial reconstruction or
standard nose jobs in order to meet a particular aesthetic. For
example, Jocelyn Wildenstein is an aristocrat who has had multiple
cosmetic procedures in order to appear more "cat-like." Contrary to how
many people view this behavior, it is not so different from british
beauty Sarah Burge, who claims to be the "Real Life Barbie." She, like
Cindy Jackson, always dreamed of becoming more like this idealized,
plastic queen. All three of them seem to be trying to fit a visualized
ideal of themselves.
Wildenstein is not the only person out there who wishes she posessesed
more animal-like qualities. The subculture of "Furries"
have animal fetishes and often try to acquire body
modifications to enhance their wishes. This is often done through
tongue splitting, ear "elfing," teeth filing, full body tattoos,
under-the-skin piercings, and hair implants. Some procedures are even
Denis Avner, AKA "Stalking
Wildenstein, the "real cat woman"
Is there really a difference in what any of these people are trying to
What it comes down to is transformation and what route people
want to take in order to become something that they are not naturally.
To what extent will people take their desire for perfection in the near
future? Will advanced prosthetics become availbale to those who can
afford them who don't necessarily need them? Will the way we define and
accept beauty change drastically along with technology?
Raymond Kurzweil, Transhumanist
Kuzweil is optimistic about the future. From his standpoint as a
Futurist and Transhumanist advocate, Kurzweil feels that by 2050
technology and science will have reached a point where people will be
living longer, richer, better, technologically enhanced lives.
Other writers and theorists feel similarly to this. Nick Bolstrom,
founder of the Transhumanist movement, and Joel Garreau
have written in praise of GRIN
(genetics, robotics, artificial
intelligence/ information technology, and nanotechnology) technologies
and are also mostly
optimistic about the possibilities that are at our feet.
The way that these men feel is that if the technology is there, and it
can help advance our society, then we should, by any means necessary,
push that to the forefront.
Nadya Vessey with mermaid prosthetic
So much has been attained through technology in creating
prosthetics for those with particular needs. It is interesting to think
that those disabled are more enabled
than "regular" people.
Aimee Mullins spoke at the TED
conference in January, 2009, about her BIONIC legs, the potential
of the human body, and the
interest that so many people have in our creative
powers in altering ourselves. Nadya
Vessey, who lost both her legs in her childhood had a prosthetic
mermaid tail made by Peter Jackson's WETA workshop so that she could
swim in style. Other amputees are embracing their differences and
exploring, and in some cases, exploiting their transformed bodies. Take
amputee fetish queen Viktoria,
for example, who is seen as one of the sexiest amputee models today.
(Body Integrity Identity Disorder) is a condition where
people wish to have perfectly good limbs amputated or paralyzed in
order to fulfill their wish of attaining a body that they see as ideal.
Gilbert's Whole explores
this desire to deform ones self.
One wonders if in the future this will still be considered a disorder.
As technologies become more advanced, won't ordinary citizens wish to
alter themselves so that they are also enabled?
Even to most "sane" people, bionic devices seduce and intrigue us. We
technically have the power to
rebuild ourselves. People who consider themselves cyborgs
constantly try to find ways to improve or add onto exhisting senses
while finding connections to human-machine interfaces.
Many other artists besides Cassandra Sechler are working with the
transformative and elastic qualities of the human body as an art form.
French artist Orlan
has gone through plastic surgery in her art as a means of commenting on
what defines beauty.
Another artist who deals with the body as a catalyst for art is Stelarc,
who in his most recent piece, found a medical doctor who was willing to
implant a cell-cultivated ear beneath the skin on the his forearm.
advanced prosthetic arm
| Technology is
helping advance those with lost limbs in creating prosthetics that work
incredibly well with the body.
One patient has been named the "4
million dollar woman" due to her prosthetic arm that was extremely
costly but well worth the money.
Kamen is another person whose arm amazes doctors, amputees, and
those interested in the technologies of prosthetics. The main aim is to
have the human machine connection more naturally for people so that it
is like the real thing, if not better.
doctors gathering over Sechler