In the mid 1970s I experimented a lot with wireless remote control of my body, arriving at a system that could remotely control the body with electrical stimulation, in the manner that one can remotely drive a car.
(I visited Eric Paulos, while wearing the system, in the 1990s, and he was suitably impressed that he brought me to Survival Research Labs, where we talked further with the folks at SRL about my telematic body).
Why would I give up control of my body to a remote unknown entity???
To really understand the issues I'm trying to understand (and explore),
you really need to read the book I am working on writing...
(see http://wearcam.org), but
some of the papers attempt to explain the existential issues of free-agency
and self-determination I'm trying to understand and explore:
A 1996 presentation at ACM Multimedia demonstrated my telematic body performances from the 1970s and 1980s, and described my remotely controllable wearable camera system:
`My Manager', borrows from the Stellarc tradition, allowing
participants to remotely contribute (via the World Wide Web) to the
creation of the documentary. Just as representatives in an
organization absolve themselves of responsibility for their
surveillance systems by blaming surveillance on managers or others
higher up their official hierarchy, the artist absolves himself of
responsibity for taking pictures of these representatives without
their permission because it is the thousands of viewers on the World
Wide Web who are `managing' (controlling) the artist and
taking the pictures. The subjects of the pictures, for example,
department store managers, who had previosly stated that ``only
criminals are afraid of video cameras'', now implicate themselves of
their own accusations by showing fear in the face of a camera. In
response to their tremendous fear and paranoia, they are handed a form
which they may use to have their pictures deleted from the artist's
manager's (the Web audience's) database. The form asks them for name,
social security number, and the reason for which they'd like to have
their images deleted, and requests that they sign a section certifying
that the reason is not one of concealing criminal activity,
e.g. hiding the fact that their fire exits illegally chained shut.
Through `reflectionism' the department store floor manager sees in the
``mirror'' the artist as a puppet on a (wireless) ``string''. `My
Manager' forces attendants/maintainers of the `Surveillance
Superhighway' to snap out of being puppets for a brief instant, and
confront the reality of what their blind obedience can lead to.
The Stelarc tradition refers to electrical stimulation of the body (giving credit where credit is due...)
Later I had an exhibit at Gallery TPW, July 2001 including a re-enactment of some of my old telematic body performances, such as Corporate Body, in which remote participants (my "Board of Directors") could vote on actions taken by my body while they viewed a live video feed transmitted from my body. Part of the device is worn around the neck like a "yoke" (hence Board of Directors Yoke = BoDY), and swivels the head in the appropriate direction, as with the remote (but this time virtual) joystick of earlier embodiments of the invention.
Corporate Body is based on my 1975 performance "My Manager" (remote control of my body), but of course now uses the World Wide Web as the control (and viewing) medium. (The updated version at TPW used electronic flashlamp trigger coils plugged into the parallel port of my wearable computer, with some new CGI scripts for participants to remotely control my body).
Later in 1996, I
experienced a wonderful performance by Elsanaar, and tried his
machine on, and then also updated my www page to credit his work as well:
`My Manager', borrows from the Stellarc/Elsenaar tradition in performance art: not just that the author's `third eye' might be analogous to Stellarc's third hand, but, more importantly, that the body is controlled remotely. `My Manager' allows participants to, via Radio TeleTYpe (RTTY), become managers and remotely contribute to the creation of a documentary video in an environment under totalitarian surveillance (where photography, video, etc., other than by the totalitarian regime is prohibited). The artist is metaphorically a puppet on a ``string'' (to be precise, a puppet on a wireless data connection) who, for example, dutifully marches into the establishment in question, goes over to the stationery department, selects a pencil for purchase, and marches past the magazine rack without stopping to browse the magazines.
My telematic body performances, such as Corporate Body, in which remote participants (my "Board of Directors") could vote on actions taken by my body while they viewed a live video feed transmitted from my body, explored many of the issues of existentialism, freewill and free-agency, that led to the founding of EXISTech (existential technologies corporation) and the writing of the article Can humans being clerks make clerks be human?.
My work on 20 years of telematic body art and Cyborgian Primitives was also mentioned in my article published in Leonardo, 1998.
I have also developed various other versions of my two-way telematic wearable wireless webcam, and some variations that use visual voting rather than electric shocks.
Although many were offended by the idea of a body driven by a Board of Directors (BoD), more recently, others appear to have built upon this body of work, by using voting over the internet to direct a wearable wireless webcam in less shocking ways (such as adoption of my visual feedback approach).