Transhumanist art

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Transhumanist art is an art movement which focuses on the concept of transhumanity, a transitional stage in a perceived progression from human to transhuman to posthuman.[1][2] Transhumanist art claimed a role for artists as purveyors of futuristic aspiration and visionary thinking in an era of scientific and technological challenge,[3] questioning traditional roles of the artist, the era of modern art and conventional aesthetics. Instead its proponents advocate a future-oriented aesthetics, often reflecting transdisciplinary works in art, science and technology.

Transhumanist Arts is an art period reflecting creative works of transhumanity. Just as Modern Art represents much of the arts of the 20th Century, Transhumanist Arts covers the late 20th Century into the 21st Century. The Transhumanist Arts period coalesces arts, sciences and technologies in reflecting the efforts of transhumans in enhancing and augmenting our minds and bodies as we strive for superlongevity and ultimately indefinite lifespans. The ideas generated by those whose work is transhumanist in scope, exemplifies the content of the transhumanist culture and is generated through many modes, from painting to New Media, and modes yet to be discovered.[4]


As a consequence of its philosophical foundations, transhumanist art emphasizes the message of the art works over the mediums used by artists in producing their works. In this regard, transhumanist art reflects the ideas of Marshall McLuhan that humans are extending themselves and their bodies through technology. According to Zoltan Istvan, transhumanist art is a vehicle for pushing for a science-minded society.[5]

Artists and the arts, throughout history, have been a voice and a vision of civilization. Artists, as communicators, reach out to others and introduce insight and vision about society and culture. Artists and the arts bring together the passions, the dreams and the hopes of humanity and transhumanity and express these emotions in ways that touch us deeply.

The art works of transhumanist art reflect a proactive vision of the future, stemming from both science fiction and traditional fiction.

[Transhumanist Arts] is in general optimistic, creative, combining intelligence and emotion in unexpected ways and is future-directed instead of backward-looking. Especially important is the automorphism sub-movement, which seeks to make self-transformation and living itself into art. On the other hand it should not be confused with techno and futurist art, which it overlaps with.

Characteristics and styles[edit]

The movie Transcendence is part of the genre of transhumanist art.[1]

Transhumanist artworks include traditional art practices such as painting,[6] printmaking, and sculpture; in multi-media, digital, virtual reality simulations, Internet art, electronic art and robotics; in moving images of videography and filmmaking; in literature through poetry[7] and fiction; in music through real-time compositions and digitized electronic or synthesized compositions;[8] and in conceptual art and exploratory practices. According to Aaron Saenz, transhumanist art covers artificial intelligence (AI), genetics, cybernetics, and other disruptive technology that could change the definition of humanity.[9] Zoltan Istvan wrote that when most people think of transhumanist art they think of movies like Transcendence and Avatar, novels like The Transhumanist Wager, and videos games such as Halo and Bioshock.[1]

Transhumanist art can include product design[citation needed], industrial design[citation needed] and architecture[10] as well as the works of scientists,[11] engineers[citation needed] and innovators[citation needed] whose goals are transhumanist in scope.

Arakawa and Madeline Gins are transhumanist artist and architects who have had their work featured in the Guggenheim Museum SoHo[12]


Transhumanist art was first recognized in 1979 when the 8 mm short independent film Breaking Away was exhibited at the University of Colorado's Film Studies Program.[citation needed] Stan Brackage, noted independent filmmaker of the 1970-1980s, was an influence on the cinematographic style of Breaking Away.[citation needed] The storyline of Breaking Away themes human evolution as breaking away from biological restraints and the Earth's gravity as humanity moves into space. The performance art piece was written and performed by Natasha Vita-More at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Don Yannacito, Director of Film Studies Program for independent filmmakers, filmed the performance.[13]

In 1983 a Transhuman Statement, a statement of arts for the future by Vita-More and FM-2030, established a poetic doctrine of transhumanist expression.[14]

In 1985 EZTV, Los Angeles, featured the video 2 Women in B&W at Women In Video.[15] In 1992, the video T - and Counting was produced featuring worlds of FM-2030, Marvin Minsky, Carl Sagan, Harold Cohen, Anaïs Nin, Susan Sontag and other transhumanists, futurists and exemplary thinkers, was exhibited at the United States Film Festival in 1992.[16]

By the late 1990s, transhumanist arts was seen as a new era[who?] in which the innovative, futurist ideas expressed by transhumanists and other forward-thinkers were brought together. In 1995, 301 artists and scientists signed the manifesto and Transhumanist Arts & Culture became a nexus for artistic and innovative thinkers.[citation needed]

Transhumanist art has been covered by numerous periodicals such as Wired, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Village Voice, LA Weekly, the Swedish Zon Magazine, Teleopolis,[17] and on the net at R. U. Sirius at MondoGlobo.[citation needed]

Trends from 20th to 21st century[edit]

The beginnings of artists engaging in either science or technology and individualism was evidenced in Futurism (Italy 1908) and Dadaism (France 1915). Futurism rejected traditions while glorifying contemporary life by emphasizing two dominant themes, the machine and motion and advocated the fusion of art and science. Dadaism was more a world-view rather than a style. The Dadaist manifestos were often aimed at startling the public into reconsidering accepted aesthetic values. This type of rethinking—employment of technology, science, individualism and the revoking of traditional standards—is transhumanist in scope.[citation needed] Although Dadaists tended to be irrational and negative and Futurism was short-lived, Transhumanist artists are rational and dynamic optimists and intend to live indefinitely.[citation needed]

Abstract expressionism (1940-1950s) initiated the era of contemporary art with a prevalent theme of self-expression. Technological works were inspired by cybernetic concepts and applied them in art with lasers, holography, and neon art; conceptual art (1960s-1970s) became notable for emphasizing the mind over the object. The act of thinking became the artwork. With the idea of the social sculpture, art became a model for problem solving and engagement in non-art systems. As well, performance art (1970s to present) presented an open-ended art form in which artists communicate directly with viewers, rather than through an "object".

Simultaneously, high-tech art (1970s) utilized diverse technologies with the sentiment that the more effective the high-tech art, the more it transcends its hardware.[citation needed] However, most tech art remains an exploration in technological art rather than a world-view.[citation needed] It is a part of the art and technology movement, but its more recent art expresses ambivalence of postmodernism towards technology.[citation needed]

Contemporary surrealism, when approached as a style and not a means and method of thought dictated by rationality and morality, seems to integrate with Transhumanism through anti-binary loopholes in the visual arts. Biomechanics (H.R. Giger, Demetrios Vakras), Mutation or 'the mutable' (Matthew Barney,J. & D. Chapman etc.), and issues relating to the loss of identity through physical or psychological transformation (Ras Steyn, Minnette Vári, COOPER (artist)) make it possible for the 'surreal' to merge with the transhumanist subject. When one realizes that the post-industrial subject is as steeped in the organic as it is in the mechanical or technological, it becomes lucid that Surrealism prevails as a style (or method of thinking) that functions as an incessant amorphous generator of the irrational, improbable and contradictory. It ignores all parameters dictated by reason and attaches itself to anything that also ignores and unsettles logic.

—Ras Steyn[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Zoltan Istvan, Transhumanist Art Will Help Guide People to Becoming Masterpieces, Huffington Post, (June 5, 2014).
  2. ^ Yolanda Martinez, TRANSHUMANISMO EN EL ARTE Indie Colors, (6 Noviembre 2013).
  3. ^ Simou, Panagiota et al. (2013). "Exploring Artificial Intelligence Utilizing BioArt". 
  4. ^ Vita-More, Natasha (1983). "The Transhumanist Art Statement". 
  5. ^ Zoltan Istvan, A World Future Society Conference Speech: Everyone Faces a Transhumanist Wager, Huffington Post, (July 15, 2014).
  6. ^ "Transhuman Artwork". Simou P., Ionian University. Retrieved 2011. 
  7. ^ "A Transhumanist Poem". Less Wrong. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  8. ^ "I Am The Very Model of a Singularitarian – Hilarious Video". Singularity Hub. 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  9. ^ Aaron Saenz, The Art of Transhumanism…Part II, SingularityHub, (Oct. 2, 2011).
  10. ^ Efrati, Amir (2009-03-24). "Couple's Dreams of Immortality at Death's Door, Thanks to Madoff -". Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  11. ^ for example see list of transhumanist art works of Anders Sandberg, who is Research Fellow at Oxford University
  12. ^ Efrati, Amir (24 March 2009). "Couple's Dreams of Immortality at Death's Door, Thanks to Madoff". Wall Street Journal. Open Publishing. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ Natasha Vita-More. "Transhumanism Art Manifesto". Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  15. ^ Natasha Vita-More, Rhizome, (Retrieved Jan. 5, 2015).
  16. ^ "UNITED STATES SUPER 8 MM FILM / VIDEO FESTIVAL". Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  17. ^ "Telepolis". 2006-04-22. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Alexander, Brian (2000). "Don't Die, Stay Pretty," Wired.
  • Atlantic Unbound (2000). "Transhumanist Art." URL accessed August 14, 2006.
  • Baker, Mark (1990). Women In Their Own Words. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Bernhard, Brendan (2001). "The Transhumanists," LA Weekly.
  • Brackage, S. (2001). Essential Brackage: Selected Writings on Filmmaking by Stan Brackage. New York: McPherson and Company.
  • Burres, Ken, MD (2001). “Fitness Twenty Years From Now.” URL accessed August 14, 2006.
  • Carta, Gianni (1999). "A Fonte Da Juventude," Carta Capital, Brazil.
  • Clifford, Dave (2001). "Art and the Future," Mean Magazine. URL accessed July 20, 2006.
  • Courau, Laurent (2000). "2000 Millennium Events," LA SPIRALE - eZine. URL accessed on January 2006.
  • Editor (2003). "Primo Posthuman 3M+," Media Net Art. URL accessed August 1, 2006.
  • Editor (2001). "Natasha Vita-More Transhumanismens Drottning," Zon, Sweden.
  • Freyermuth, Gundolf S. (1996). Cyberland: Eine Führung durch den High- Tech- Underground. Verlag: Rowohlt Tb. (1998).
  • Grundmann, Melanie. (2004). “Transhumanist Arts. Aesthetics of the Future?” Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät der Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder). URL accessed August 14, 2006.
  • Ichbiah, Daniel (2005). Robots Génèse d'un peuple artificiel, FR: Minerva (25 Mars 2005).
  • Jordan, Gregory E., PhD. (2006). “Review of Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto." URL accessed August 14, 2006.
  • McLuhan, Marshall; Lapham, Lewis H. (1994). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. The MIT Press; Reprint edition (October 20, 1994).
  • Perniola, Mario (2004), The Art and Its Shadow, foreword by Hugh J.Silverman, translated by Massimo Verdicchio, London-New York, Continuum, 2004.
  • Sirius, RU (2006). "NeoFiles with RU Sirius on," NeoFiles Show #38. URL accessed on July 14, 2006.
  • Simou Panagiota, Tiligadis Konstantinos, Alexiou Athanasios. Exploring Artificial Intelligence Utilizing BioArt, 9th Artificial Intelligence Applications and Innovations Conference, IFIP AICT 412, pp. 687–692, 2013, © IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2013, Springer.
  • Smith, Simon (2001). "Your Future In Art," Betterhumans. URL accessed August 9, 2006.
  • Steyn, Ras, “Post-Human Body and Identity Modification in the Art of Stelarc and Orlan,” page 140. URL accessed August 14, 2006.
  • Steyn, R.(M-Tech) 2007. Flesh Physix. URL accessed May 30, 2007.
  • Pescovitz, David (1997). "Reality Check," Wired. Wired, Reality Check URL accessed on August 9, 2006.
  • Young, Simon (2006). Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto. Prometheus Books (September 30, 2005).
  • Vita-More, Natasha (1996). "Transhuman Statement," Create/Recreate: The Third Millennial Culture. Los Angeles: Extropy Institute, 1997.
  • Vita-More, Natasha (2000). "The Transhumanist Agenda Engineering Identity and Culture," Itau Culture, Brazil.

External links[edit]