Capture and create two idealised portraits through digital enhancement and retouching techniques. One image must be a self portrait and the other a photograph of a subject of the opposite gender.
Support your visual work with a 500-word reflective statement which addresses and unpacks the following quote in relation to your experience of undertaking the visual work:
“What counts as human in this post-human world? How do we rethink the unity of the human subject, without reference to humanistic beliefs, without dualistic oppositions, linking instead body and mind in a new flux of self? What is the view of the self that is operational in the world of the “informatics of domination”?
Braidotti, cited in Toffoletti K, 2007, in ‘Cyborg and Barbie Dolls: feminism, popular culture and the post-human body’, IB Tauris, London, p. 3-4
The advent of new technologies more and more advanced has rapidly changed our habits and our lifestyle and has given rise for a new era; an era, in which natural and artificial blend together and where man and machines coexist to the point that, soon or after, it will be more and more difficult to define them and to distinguish them. As Toffoletti (2007) affirms, it will become hard to understand the “distinctions between what is real and is virtual, where the body ends and technology begins, what is nature and what is machine”.
‘About Face’ is, in fact, a photographic project about post-humanism; it explores how technology can transform the human body focusing particularly on the post-human body, conceived as the hybridization between man and machine, and thus the creation of a bionic man, the so-called cyborg; a being with both organic and cybernetic parts. But aren’t we cyborgs already in a way? Haven’t we already entered in the post-human era? Isn’t it already part of our society?
We have already started to alter our genetic structure to correct “errors of nature” by incorporating technology into the body like pacemakers and artificial limbs in pursuit of a greater life expectancy and in the fight against disability; or simply for aesthetic reasons, trying to become “perfect” as the media want us to be. Does this make us less “human”?
I believe that “the post-human doesn’t have to mean the end of the human or the rise of the antihuman” (Hayles, 1999) because this “evolution”, either biological or technological, is part of the process of being human. Becoming a “cyborg” is the very next step of the Darwinian evolution of the human species in which, however, mutations are not random but controlled by men. The post-human body is not nor can be against nature because nothing that techno-science can do go against the laws of physics and biology that, by definition, are part of our nature.
The two submitted photographs are an exaltation of the (post)human body and its potential. They portray my personal vision of the human body in the near future, where men will look more and more artificial and machines will look more and more natural till it will become impossible to distinguish what is what and who is who; a future, where people will be able to choose their hair colour, their eyes colour, their skin colour and even their physiognomy by simply adjusting their genes in the laboratory.
At the same time, however, the two portraits are also a critique of the post-human body as its uncertainty will make it difficult to define “man or woman, real or illusion, self of Other, human or non-human” (Toffoletti, 2007). They portray our fear of a future without identity, where we will all look the same thanks to rapidly advancing technology; a technology that, eventually, could take over us.
Braidotti cited in Toffoletti K 2007, Cyborgs and Barbie dolls: feminism, popular culture and the posthuman body, I.B. Tauris, London
Screenshots of the final photographs open in Photoshop CS6 showing layers and working method: