A 2016 survey found that 1 in 5 Australians have a tattoo, illustrating a rise in the acceptance of tattoos as a form of body modification in mainstream society. The reasons that people get a tattoo vary, from self-expression, memorialising something or someone or for aesthetic reasons and their increasing popularity illustrates how a form of body modification that was once tied to criminal activities and social exclusion has now become an accepted norm in society. Other forms of body modification such as ear stretching, silicone implants and plastic surgery are all becoming increasingly popular.
These primarily aesthetic modifications are paving the way for the expansion of more technologically advanced and practical forms of body modification to become commonplace in society. The field of prosthetic limbs provides endless opportunity for both the designer and the wearer to push their designs outside of what is ‘human’ or expected. One such example of the Alternative Limbs Project that create prostheses that are purposely bizarre and unexpected, with wearer Jo-Jo Cranfield describing her experience of her prosthesis, an arm with snakes running through, “I wear it with pride. I’ve never seen a two armed person with snakes crawling into their skin, and even if I did I don’t think it would be so comfy! My alternative arm makes me feel powerful, different and sexy!”
Through a more functional lens, Nigel Ackland received one of the most advanced prosthetics, RSL Steeper’s bebionic3 , that he describes after receiving “my life changed forever” in 2012. The bionic hand is touted as “sleek, elegant and cutting edge in design and technology” and is both lifelike and functional, allowing users to perform tasks such as gripping objects and tying shoelaces.
As our technological capabilities improve and become more accessible it is easy to perceive a future where customisable prosthesis are everyday, and not simply designed to be functional limbs, but also reflections of character or aesthetic preferences. The human body as we know it will evolve in the future, prosthetics may no longer be confined to replace lost limbs but rather people may elect to remove a hand or leg in order to get a more ‘beautiful’ or capable prosthesis.
bebionic, n.d., The Hand, viewed 23 September 2017. http://bebionic.com/the_hand
Eveleth, R, 2015, ‘meanwhile, in the future: extreme body modification’, Gizmodo, 8 July 2016, viewed 26 September 2017, https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2015/07/meanwhile-in-the-future-extreme-body-modification-with-tech/
Muoio D, 2016. ‘These high-tech bionic limbs are the future of prosthetics’, Business Insider, 13 June 2016, viewed 23 September 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/alternative-limb-project-pushes-prosthetics-into-future-2016-6
The Alternative Limb Project, 2015, Snake Arm, viewed 24 September 2017, http://www.thealternativelimbproject.com/project/snake-arm/
Tzezaza, R, 2015, ‘Tattoos, replacement limbs and body modifications – oh my!’ Curating the Future, 23 September 2015, viewed 26 September 2017. https://curatingthefuture.com/2015/09/23/tattoos-replacement-limbs-and-body-modifications-oh-my/