Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Implanted LED: for when tattoos get boring

For transhumanists, tattoos must seem rather trite and redundant.

If you really want to express yourself through body art, LED is the way to go. Just a few weeks ago, NPR ran a story about "body hackers" embedding LED lights just beneath the skin (you can can find even better visuals on the subject at Motherboard.) In concept anyway, it's not a new idea. People have been getting RFID and personal data chips implanted for a while now. Andreas Sjöström of Holland used a home xNT kit from Dangerous Things to implant his personal information on a microchip, allowing him to easily pass through airports. The xNT can also allow someone to open doors and unlock their home or phone with the wave of their hand. And in terms of art, well, Stelarc has been creating art with his own body via transhuman means for years and Hyung Koo Lee experimented with body distortion with his Objectuals. Not sure it's really something "new."

Maybe that's the idea. As one body hacker said in the NPR piece:

"I think once people realize, oh, it's OK that my grandma has a pacemaker, a magnet's much less invasive than that - people are going to start to accept this. You know, the era of transhumanism, I would say, is here. So let's accept that and then see where that logically takes us."

I have many people in my life with tattoos and piercings so I mean this with no rancor, but is implanting an LED beneath your skin any dumber than injecting ink or affixing a clump of metal to dangle? There is perhaps greater chance of infection, but isn't this just another form of body modification or enhancement? Of expression?

As more people turn to options that allow the mundane, such as starting your car with an implanted RFID tag, or the grandiose, such as "cyborg" eyes that allow zoom focus or infrared sight, the next natural question for the mind is "how can we use this creatively?" The more artistic among us may choose to augment themselves in ways that also express their personality. It's just going to take time for it to normalize. Just remember, there was an age where tattoos were erroneously thought crude and only for the "lower classes."

Funny how things change.

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