Our new series of Superhuman drop-in events has started off and we are very excited here at Wellcome Collection. With events every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday until the end of the exhibition, it’s going to be a very busy season. Catherine Walker has been finding out who the cyborgs are.
Richard Tyrone-Jones and Sarah Ruff kick started the events programme with ‘We Are All A Cyborg’. A mixture of performance art, comedy and interactive activities, this event explores what it is to be a cyborg. It is easy to think of cyborgs as something that would only be seen on Doctor Who, but in fact Sarah and Richard make it clear that a lot of people today are cyborgs. Many people use technology to enhance their organic bodies, ranging from the highly technological (Richard has an internal cardiac defibrillator, which keeps his heart beating in time) to the more everyday like fillings or glasses. Many people in the audience were surprised to learn that they were a cyborg, while others were jealous that they were not.
The event involved performances from both Sarah and Richard which lasted for about 15 minutes in total. Richard discussed the experience of becoming a cyborg, in a very open, honest and hilarious way. He explains that he became a cyborg because it saved his life, but that it was not necessarily by choice. Sarah made the decision to become a cyborg after consulting with the people she loved. Sarah’s performance explored her decision to have a contraceptive implant to stop her from getting pregnant. She explores the idea that technology can turn us into the ideal human, but that reality usually falls far short. Both use projections in a funny and imaginative way, bring their experiences to life.
When they are not performing Richard and Sarah invite audience members and visitors to add to their model cyborg, collecting stories and anecdotes of personal enhancements. They also include people’s wishes for what they want out of cybernetic technology. After only one event the cyborg is looking quite complete but it will be added to during the week until today.
If you like the sound of this event there will be more like this over the next few weeks. Pop in between 14.00-17.00 every Wednesday and Friday or 18.00-21.00 every Thursday.
Catherine Walker is a Visitor Services Assistant at Wellcome Collection.