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Extended self

Rafael Lozano Hemmer explored telerobotics in the work Vectorial Elevation, in which he permitted Internet users to interact with a custom interface that allowed them to


Vectorial Elevation, by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (part of the Cultural Olympiad - CODE) Photo by Magalie L'Abbé


program a sequence of massive searchlights mounted on the roofs of buildings in Zokolo Square in Mexico City, and then view, over the Internet, the pattern they created. The work had a local component as the photo above indicates the local viewers could enjoy the constant variety of this distributed design work. With Vectorial Elevation the pattern programmer could be local or distant and could then manifest the search light behaviors for all to enjoy.

The future of Telematics technologies promises increases and refinements in interface design, as well as increasing conversations between different species. It will also permit artists and technologists to better capture the movements of professional artists, engineers, surgeon, and technologies to humans agency at a distance through robot avatars.

The contemporary artist Jeffrey Shaw has created an extended virtual environment EVE which is a large inflatable dome and video projectors mounted on a robotic pan/tilt device mapped to a human head.

Jeffrey Shaw Extended Virtual Environment 1993


In this work, two video projectors project out to the walls of the dome and map where the viewer is looking. 

Jeffrey Shaw Extended Virtual Self (EVE)

This work uses a custom helmet that directs the projection and allows the viewer to interactively explore the computer-generated virtual scenographies.

The specialized Telematics and robotic feedback devices above speak to just how ubiquitous computers and microcontrollers have become in the arts and in our daily environments.

The Arduino microcontrollers, one of the microcontroller platforms explored in this book are built by extremely accurate robotic actuators, which have pre-programmed behaviors that allow them to replicate, over-and-over the repetitive tasks of building tiny circuit boards. The Arduino circuit board you see below uses surface-mount parts, which are mostly too small for human hands, so a collaborative augmentation, where the robot actuators position the parts, is now the norm for most mass produced circuit boards.Here the projected imagery always follows the viewers gaze and a joystick allows the viewer to control forward and backward movement in this dramatic virtual experience.


Surface-mount (SM) parts are very small computer parts that are generally only handled by machines.

The computers in our cars, houses, and businesses are already very prevalent but think for a moment about the millions of computers and microcontrollers that we do not see that help manage our lives through food production, manufacturing, food delivery, and traffic grids. The just-in-time economy that allows trucks, trains, ships, and planes to arrive just as a product is depleted from store shelves is really a grand feedback-loop that is deadlocked to global consumption and demand cycles.

Computer systems are now critical and irreplaceable mediators and controllers of our financial markets, communication networks, and healthcare networks. It is no wonder that Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 1982 was the computer. This was just 24 years after the invention of the integrated circuit. Computers and the integrated systems they direct and connect are now critically intertwined with human survival but are also part of our broader evolution.

The performance artist Stelarc engages this dialogue with his works that use technology as prosthetics to extend and enhance the body, visually and acoustically. Stelarc collaborates with researchers and scientists in developing new interfaces and methods of applying advanced technologies.


Third Hand by Stelarc. 1990.


In his work The Third Hand, Stelarc uses abdominal and leg muscles to control the third hand and write EVOL, and uses his two other hands to complete the word EVOLUTION. In Stelarc’s words:

Bodies are both Zombies and Cyborgs. We have never had a mind of our own and we often perform involuntarily--conditioned and externally prompted. Ever since we evolved as hominids and developed bipedal locomotion, two limbs became manipulators and we constructed artifacts, instruments, and machines. In other words, we have always been coupled with technology. We have always been prosthetic bodies. We fear the involuntary and we are becoming increasingly automated and extended. However, we fear what we have always been and what we have already become--Zombies and Cyborgs.