Stemming from the growing concerns about the nature of the human body in a digital age, this project will address, through photographic practice, the emergent symbiotic relationship between the human and the machine in relation to the ideas of the cyborg and the posthuman. Photographing individuals equipped with prosthetic limbs offers an opportunity to explore these contemporary concerns in relation to biomedical science and the photographic representation of the body.

Oleg Duryagin, Naked Faces


Posthuman is defined as the state beyond human where the singular, defined individual can "become" or embody different identities; and, understand the world from multiple, heterogeneous perspectives.

A technology improves ‘anxieties about the specific manipulation of the human body are heightened: with fears of about ‘designer babies’, stem cell research, cloning…’ [Liz Wells, Photography: A Critical Introduction. Pg.163]

Through photography I shall explore this modern state. The key themes in the project include:

- The CYBORG: defined as a “cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction” -Donna J. Haraway

Although this entity is more common to science-fiction I wish to explore the cyborg within society. I want to document those who live in symbiosis with technological bodies.

- Constructed Identity in Contemporary Society

- Identity is an umbrella term used within sociology and psychology to mean a myriad of things.

- It is a flexible and conflicting term.

- Identity is constructed from in a personal sense, a social sense, on an ethnic, cultural, spiritual or religious basis and by way of their moral values.

I, Alexa Wright, 1999

There are other loaded terms, such as 'cyberculture', that will have strong science-fiction connotations which will be relevant to this project. This will mean having to look at and reference the core examples of cyberculture, which include:

[in literature] Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984)

[in film] Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner [1982], Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell [1995], Robert Longo’s Johnny Mnemonic [1995], The Wachowski Brother’s The Matrix [1999]

[Blade Runner]

[Ghost in the Shell]


[The Matrix]

Within art photography Cindy Sherman [b.1954] is the most recognized for creating images using ‘doll parts’. However, her work is predated by Hans Bellmer [1902-1975] who created striking and surreal works featuring female dolls during the 1930s.

[Sex Pictures, 1992, Cindy Sherman]

[Hans Bellmer]

Another crucial photographer to mention when exploring the notion of constructed identity and synthetic limbs in contemporary culture is Fran Herbello. Herbello’s digital images ‘represent the body as a kind of attire, and deal with the transformation of identity in the digital era, and the changes this may produce in our relationship with our bodies’ [Liz Wells, Photography: A Critical Introduction. Pg162].

[Fran Herbello, Untitled, 2000]


Week One: Starting on the 9th of March with a trip to Musgrave Prosthetic Clinic I will actively begin photographing within the sphere of artificial limbs and the symbiotic body.

Week Two: Further visits to the clinic to meet prosthetic users and explain my project.

Week Three: By directing my gaze towards those assembling the limbs at Musgrave it will provide a chance to further understand exactly I am photographing.

Weeks Four to Seven: The major body of the work will be made during this month and, with regular visits to the clinic, I will have organised to photograph individuals.

Weeks Eight to Ten: Although I will be digitally editing my images through the weeks this period will be editing the sequential order and editing the project as a whole. Also, I will begin printing the images for submission.

Week Eleven: The photographic content and written accompaniment will be handed in to QUB.

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