Bodies of evidence

Signs that we live in the digital age can be seen on the human body.
Written by Ella Morton, Contributor on

My father has a bump on his middle finger from gripping his pen. I have no such finger protuberances, but I do have a callus on my right wrist from using a mouse five days per week without a mouse pad.

Whether visible in the rounded shoulders of the slumping office worker or the prematurely arthritic hand joints of seasoned gamers, technology has made its mark on the human body.

My wrist bump will hopefully diminish now that I've splashed out $1 on a snazzy Ikea mouse pad, but I'm not so optimistic regarding my Quasimodoed posture, and vision blurred by many late nights fussing around in Dreamweaver. Five years of back-straightening ballet as a kid and it's come to this. Sorry mum.

I'm now on a quest to find the most unusual way that tech has made its mark on the human body. (Submissions are, of course, welcome below.) I suppose there is a distinction to be made though, between changes that happen gradually (iPod addicts' hearing loss, SMS thumb fatigue) and wilful and sustained modifications, such as the truly disturbing "I have Intel inside...no really" tattoo, ears reshaped to resemble a character in Zelda or Stelarc-esque cyborg performance art. It's the difference between living a life enhanced by tech and becoming living tech.

Stelarc is particularly curious example of the latter. An Australian-based performance artist, his projects have incorporated human-machine interfaces; the attachment of robotic limbs; and swallowing components to create a "stomach sculpture" viewable by endoscopic camera. Sure, it's not everyone's cup of tea, and some might understandably argue that the guy is a raving loon, but his contention that the human body is obsolete makes for provocative reading.

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