I had an opportunity to attend a lecture at the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology focused on our relationship with technology. It was titled Expanding the Human Experience Through Machines and the guest lecturer was Jonathon Tippett, a kinetic artist and mechanical engineer. As an artist, Jonathon is passionate about exploring machines through the human experience and so Tippett creates kinetic sculptures which explore the relationships between humans, machines, energy, power and physical skill. In 2006, he and other fellow engineers designed and created the Mondo Spider, a movable mechanical sculpture that imitates the movements of an actual spider. He’s also continuing this exploration of combining art and engineering with his next piece, Prosthesis, which is a 16.5-foot tall, 4,400-pound, four-legged wearable walking machine, slated for completion in 2012.
I really enjoyed the lecture because Jonathon is really passionate about his research into combining art and technology where even some are very beneficial for humans to utilize. He opens the lecture with the statement that humans love to learn and explore the potential of machines. Jonathon believes that we have become augmented humans because we utilize machine technology to help boost our own biological limitations. For example, the military are testing out an exo suit that will increase our human speed and assist us in lifting heavier equipment and there have been breakthroughs where prosthetics are able to be connected to the human nervous system which allows the wearers to move it by sheer thought.
Jonathon believes that people should reacquaint themselves with physical experiences by creating machines that generate brand new ones. So far we have a better relationship with technology in both the physical and online plane where devices are mere extensions of ourselves, even online avatars reflect a portion of our identity. What’s your opinion? Do you think we are becoming a more integrated techno society?
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