Our Cyborg Condition

By Alejandro T. Acierto

Featured image

Alejandro T. Acierto, There Is No Place Courtesy of the artist


"Technology becomes instead the process of 'bringing forth' or, as Heidegger states, 'to make something appear, within what is present, as this or as that, in this way or that way.'"
—Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology

on technology

Flesh meets copper meets fiber meets glass. Moisture accumulates from the edges of our fingertips, permeating the plastic and glass of our keyboards while the oil leaves a mark. Our bodies, transformed into cyborgs, are no longer immediately recognized as corporeal, but as emerging from the prostheses that have entangled us with the digital. Our cyborg selves oscillate between physical bodies and the avatars we build, creating a tension between our actual and our imaginary. And as the technologies we engage with allow us to reformulate our “selves,” to rebroadcast our lives, or to allow our bodies to remain present in lieu of physical contact, we become more aware of how we (re)present our sense of being. Frameworks of digital infrastructure become signal transmissions that allow a platform of exchange where screens and systems become the mouth for our bodies. As a stage for these interactions, transmission allows us the possibility to be seen, heard, and felt within the frequencies that fill the airwaves. Our presence, or might we say arrival, occurs within the tightly regulated spectrum brought forth through transmission—through technologies that have entangled and reconfigured us. Put plainly, we are no longer entirely human.

on inspiration

Transmit, and other pieces that surround it, begin with this tension—with the premise that through technology, we are no longer ourselves. And while the condition of our cyborg-ness has become more apparent, so too has our humanness. For within these transmissions, the breath emerges as a signal of our mortality, a bodily function that frequently hides from our consciousness though it is always present.

(Darth Vader comes to mind.)


on breath

Transmit thus offers a space from which the breath not only becomes apparent, but is also amplified, processed, and contended with. The thing that makes us most human, the material of the living body, is made present and broadcast through the inanimate networks of digital systems and industrial processes. (Among the speech and language that has become easier to replicate digitally within broadcasts, the breath is most difficult to emulate.) And as complicated a condition this reveals, the breath within transmission allows us to witness our own “selves,” to bring forth our bodies in different, transformed ways. It allows us to situate our cyborg condition as one that is not fraught, but as a condition to be celebrated, reimagined, and revered.