What if : Reappropriating our bodies

FOSEV1 by Hips performance

From a dance performance using virtual reality, a manufacture of post-human bodies to an educational kit for sexual pleasure, we choose to highlight a few innovatives projects exploring how we are trying to reappropriate our bodies in an industrialized world.

What if intimate pleasure was a way to reappropriate our bodies ?

Rediscoverying body pleasures

DfIE by Jack Newburry

From the CSM 2019 MA Material Futures graduates, Jack Newbury introduced “Department for inclusive education” (DfIE), the first inclusive sexual education demonstration kit, a “design organisation” with the aim to “integrate equality within sexual education”. The kit addresses to secondary schools and get it’s users into an overview of the themes of pleasure, identity, consent, gender and body image. A real back to old school kind of kit but can hold the potential to bring awareness in a period where young people are discovering a part of their identity through puberty, porn and sex experiences.

Beyond the Body positivity movement, people are feeling the need and curiosity to relearn body pleasures. New brands and sex tech startups are pullulating, thriving with fine minimalistic and genderless designed aesthetics challenging the common sex toys standards and phallic shapes. Their products acts as an invitation for self-love and self-experimentation moments, dedicated to empower oneself by re-appropriating the feelings of pleasure. See for example the products of Unbound Babes, Dame, “Enby” by Wild Flower or the work of designers such as Nienke Helder that creates a set of sensory objects dedicated to rehabilitate women affected by sexual abuse or the project “Ripple masturbation suit” by designers Hsin-Jou Huang, Szu-Ying Lai and Chia-Ning Hsu which help people with disabilities to fulfill their sexual needs.

The reappropriation of our body is necessary not only in our real world, but in our virtual one too.

What if virtual reality could help us invent new body representations ?

Virtual reality as a way to experiment and reinvent the way we move

Hips performance

During Milan Design Week 2019, the Netherlands based collective Hips performance explored the new gestures suggested by the use of VR technology. Through a range of gestures usually made into the VR world, the collective creates a whole new vocabulary of body movements in an experimental dance performance. The event was part of Dissolving Views, an exhibition from M O R P H during Salone del Mobile, Milan 2019.

FoseV1 by Hips performance

“Faced with the fear of otherness, dominant dominated models and the oblivion of empathy, we believe in the necessity to hack these systems of our time and re-invent our affective and corporeal links. How do we interact together as humans in the era of Screens and mobile social-media? To answer this question, we believe in deconstructing the different modes and systems of communication to go back to the preamble: The Body.”

A growing tech-friendly community is cultivating serendipity and creativity through connected objects and alternative realities (AR, VR, and so on) to create a new relationship with their own body. Through their experiences, they question the social friction between what is intimate and what is usually “public” and how the so called “virtual world” can have physicality. During our research, we explored the many ways this community is evolving through beauty, health and wellness, starting from gamification to a deeper creative quest of technology stimulating the senses.

Body pleasure and virtual physicality are two ways among many others to reappropriate our bodies in an industrialized society. We are trying to be more conscious about our feelings, our movements and our sensations, as if we had been disconnected from ourselves, our one and only flesh. Has capitalism disconnected ourselves from our bodies, turning them into mere assets ?

What if human bodies were manufactured ?

The contemporary manufacture of human shells

Replika by Pleun Van Dijk, commissioned by Roskilde Festival

Commissioned by Roskilde Festival in Denmark, the multidisciplinary artist and designer Pleun Van Dijk presented it’s performance where visitors were confronted with two performers executing the same movements, working on human production-line. The original form of a baby is slowly taking an undefined and strange shape, putting the two performers as a pair of god-designers in an ‘no-future’ human factory. While the performance can scares you, it also provokes the debate concerning the place of our bodies in an industrialized world where the human body becomes itself a product.

This project is echoing to the transhumanist philosophy where the body is also viewed as manufactured or crafted usually in order to be optimized. With our hands always holding smartphones, our fingers used to tactile screens, the rise of surgery based on social media filters, the wellness performance trend and our bodies being more and more quantified, our shells are becoming another asset of capitalism where brands provides us what we need to be more beautiful, productive and in good health condition. This work appears as a critique of this phenomenon, where the influence of industry on our human shells can lead us to a dystopian body barely recognizable as human. This transhumanist vision is now challenged by an emerging community of neo-surgeons gathering people seeking singularity and freedom.

Replika by Pleun Van Dijk, commissioned by Roskilde Festival

With beauty standards and industrialization of our bodies, a growing community is rising, concerned by a matter of freedom and truth. They take inspiration from biohackers, makers, activists and tend to experiment with alternative ways to get their bodies free from GAFAs, brands and products. We detected the rise of neo-surgeons a year ago, among new trends such as the responsive and modular body, the algorithmic beauty and the augmented body.

Want to know more about virtual reality and its opportunities, the virtual physicality or the common points between biohacking and body positivity ? Get in touch with us at contact@imprudence.fr ! We would be happy to discuss your present and future challenges !

Designing near and far futures. http://imprudence.fr

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