Week 4/Case Study: Stelarc—The Third Ear

The adventurous performing artist had came up with the development program called the “third ear” in his arm, which we mentioned during the lecture. Stelarc is a performing artist from Australian, in this project, he cultivated and implanted a left ear into his skin of left arm, thereby to know the relationship between the body and function. I am interested in this project because this is a very creative and unique work combined art with biology and also in the medicine field.stelarc

About this project, he took off some cartilage tissue from autologous rib cage, and he used it to cultivate a left ear and then put it into his skin in order to promote the growth of the tissue and the formation of blood vessel for integration the “third ear” with his body. He indicated that he did not really want to let the ear have special features, but did this as a fancy work by an artist. He spent entirely ten years to find a doctor, who was willing to do his transplant surgery for him in 2006. “Had I found surgeons in 1996, it probably wouldn’t have resulted in the state-of-the-art surgical construct it is now,” Stelarc said in the interview. “It’s not interesting to simply speculate that there will be a better state-of-the-art device to use in 10-15 years’ time. There are always going to be constraints; there are always going to be limitations to what any technology will do. But it’s the idea that is what’s potent.”

In the future, for what the ear will present, Stelarc also said in the interview, “At present it’s only a relief of an ear. When the ear becomes a more 3-D structure we’ll reinsert the small microphone that connects to a wireless transmitter. So if you’re in San Francisco and I’m in London, you’ll be able to listen in to what my ear is hearing, wherever you are and wherever I am.”

In my opinion, this is not only a performing art, but a way of integration art with medicine and technology, and I believe this will help the development of the transplant field in the future. Imagine that if someday this ear can actually hear whatever Stelarc heard, and people exported the sound from the microphone to let everybody hear the sound, then someday we can put this idea into medical research or biotechnology field, for example, we can put chip into human’s head to record the memory and export the information to our computer for storage memory in the future. So, for me the “third ear” project is not a useless or ridiculous idea, it is just beyond our real life. The value of this work will influence more and more people not only in the art field, but also in the medicine field.

reference: http://www.wired.com/2012/05/stelarc-performance-art/

-Mengchun Tao

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