Prosthetic, experimental subjectivity

Photography in Prosthetic Culture
The Art of Photography 2014
Identity and Prosthetic Culture
The human being is a cultured animal. Culture
works like a prosthesis. Therefore, human
beings are prosthetic creatures by definition.
The self includes, incorporates a technological
Intenalised, culturally produced, idealised images
Technically mediated styles, fashion, manners,
Technological others: books, notes, photos, Pcs,
smart phones etc.
Competing notions if identity: possessive
Possessive individualism
„A free, self-determining and self-responsible
identity is constituted as a property” (1)
Constituted through the recognition of one's
possesion of a unique body
Individualism is a doctrine of human nature, and
is based on: freedom, action, rationality and
Individualism is a modern notion, a reaction
against the traditionalism of pre-modern and
pre-capitalist societies
Photo and possessive individualism
„Through the operations of this shadow archive, then, photography tied
selfidentity to the cultural and legal construction of an ideal self modelled
in property rights by presuming a particular conception of the individual
and the individual’s relation to humanity, within which the notion of the
possessive individual had a special visibility. The very aesthetic
conventions of portraiture enforced the individual’s claims to assert his or
her ownership of the self.”
„On the one hand, then, the portrait allowed for scrutiny of the person,
the search for and depiction of character. It gave the belief in
individualism full play, inviting the view that the individual is first and
foremost a personality whose characteristics can be read from facial
expression and gesture. On the other hand, however, the portrait might
also communicate a type, whether that type be a sub-section of humanity
or the whole of humanity itself, and thus provided a technique of
Prosthetic experimental subjectivity
„The photograph, more than merely
representing, has taughts us a way of seeing,
and… this way of seeing has transformed
contemporary self-understandings.” (2)
Not „I think, therefore I am”, but „I can, therefore
I am”
A synthesis of body, collectivity and memory
(Locke) may turn into prosthesis
Transplantations make ID Qs difficult „How old
are you?” „Is this your body?”
Baudrillard: „the enabling power of technology”
Prosthetic experimental subjectivity
„What was naturally or socially determined or constructed in the
self-identity of plural culture is thus no longer a given in prosthetic
but is rather a matter of potential or technologically assisted choice or
a question of indifferentiation and outcontextualisation.”
„The creation of implants or prosthetic organs, for example, requires
an elaborate social organization of production, distribution, marketing,
maintenance and repair of the artefacts. The individual’s body is
now part-industrial. His implants link him permanently to the world of
industry and science. He is also the ultimate consumer, incorporating the
„...the genre of portraiture has played a significant role in the
development of the likenesses through which the self-understanding of
the possessive individual has been secured. In the aesthetic conventions
of this genre, the viewer is invited to transform him- or herself in
anticipation of what he or she might look like as an image. This is part of
a more general functioning of photography in which ‘living beings [are
turned] into things, things into living beings’ (Sontag, 1977:98).”
„as Baudrillard (1995) claims, that since we now live in a culture in which
we each have a video recorder in our head, we are constantly in the
position of having to transform ourselves in the anticipation of what we
might look like as an image. In other words, the invitation is more often
than not a prescription; in Adorno’s classic phrase, the invitation to
‘become what you are’ is one we cannot easily refuse.”
„repetitive dis-internalisation of subjectivity”
„an individual for whom the possession of a resource-ful self is
something to be worked at in the very serious role-play of what might be
called experimental individualism. It is an individual who in looking in the
mirror of the technological order no longer sees a reflection, but looks
through the mirror to what he or she could be.”
New concepts: The eperimental self, mimicry („the powerful
compulsion … to become and behave like something else” – W.