Saturday, May 12, 2007

Transhumanism, Clothes, and Fashion Monstrosities

{ Podcast @ 3min } I have several axioms about technology. But one of them is: "Clever people will purposely do weird things with new technology." But the weirdness of it all becomes a bit too apparent when one casually peruses the troubled minds of artists during their wandering moments, even days of boredom.

Transhumanists study the possibilities and consequences of developing and using human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies for the purposes of enhancing human mental and physical abilities. But what counts as "enhancement" and what counts as a mere stylistic experiment in self-expression will never be sorted out on objective grounds. Humans, it turns out, are not objective creatures at all, as is well attested by the life of the greatest logician of all, Kurt Godel; or by the more mundane examples of people who acquire enhancement of self-expression via tattoos.[1]

Technology will eventually follow the basic movements of clothing fashion, and since people wear clothing for both functional and social reasons, one can see the immediate allure of tossing a bit of technology into the mix. The main issue is how easy it is to acquire and remove the technology at hand. If having radical amputations so as to attach robotic arms were no more difficult than obtaining an ear piercing, and likewise no more trouble to re-correct, then the mere whims of pop culture will produce all the fashion monstrosities that we see in the world of cloth.

Amputation and robo-grafting will come quickly, but not with the shock value that it has today when we encounter such in art. This is because the natural trends of communication technology and convenient computational clothing will make the leap to transhumanist fashion just one more avaunt guard generational marker for the young. But what seems extreme in clothing now is merely passe tomorrow:
In the last few decades, there has been a consistent trend towards the mainstreaming of formerly extreme fashion, in which "over-the-top" becomes ordinary and loses any shock value it might once have had.[2]
Moreover, the engine of differentiation will require participants to wander further and further from the human form, even if not the human essence. Wandering from the human essence has been the main worry about transhumanism, but already there exists strange outward signs in popular culture.

It has sometimes been claimed that "clothes make the man." But soon enough, a new proverb will be necessary: "Fashion fashions the transman."


[image] Brian Walker

[1] "Tattoo Blog" (12 May 2007)

[2] "Clothing." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (12 May 2007. )


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