More than ever, our bodily senses are affected by technology around us. As technology gets better and better at stimulating and simulating sensory experiences, our perceptions of the external world are increasingly mediated by and dependent on digital and mechanical devices. The two seemingly contrasting concepts of “techno” and “sensual” become one and the same in contemporary life, where organisms, information, and products play equal parts. Boundaries between physicality and technology, human and inhuman, natural and artificial become blurry.
In contemporary aesthetic practices, the organic and inorganic fuse: synthetic materials look more like bodily substances, while the body becomes more artificial. The various industrial materials in Alisa Baremboym’s amorphous sculptures, stripped of their original functions, resemble organic and sensuous forms. Anicka Yi’s work looks at the plasticity of our bodily functions, and translates them into synthetic experiences. The sleek and shiny surfaces in Susanne M. Winterling’s installations evoke bioluminescence. In these technosensual artworks, the physicality of material appears at once surreal and familiar. This aesthetic sensation is mirrored in recent pop science fiction films Ex Machina and Her, breaking away from clichéd dystopian visions of technology dreamed up in the last century. In a technosensual future, we’ll have smarter bodies (and extensions), while our technology gets softer, more malleable, and transparent.
Text by Lai Fei