Icarus figurine Illustrating that human fascination in bodily augmentation is far from a strictly contemporary concern, the exhibition opens with an almost two millennia old statuette of Icurus. The mythological Greek figure, of course, sought to escape his island exile by crafting giant wings. He failed dramatically, howver, as the wax used to hold the feathers in place melted as he soared, so the tale goes, to close to the sun. www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 2 of 32
I-Limb Ultra Prosthetic Hand Those looking for a heavy dose of cutting edge sci-fi medical technology might be wise to give the historically and artistically rich "Superhuman" exhibition a wide berth. This full articulating hand prosthesis, however, was one smashing example of the wonders of modern medicine. Designed by: Touch Bionics www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 3 of 32
Child Leg Prostheses Intricate contraptions inflicted on the poor young suffers of the Thalidomide medical disaster. Interestingly, accompanying footage of these limb deficient children shows that they were actually much more mobile and able bodied without being strapped into these bits of apparatus. Designed by: Roehampton www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 8 of 32
Child Arm Prostheses Intricate contraptions inflicted on the poor young suffers of the thalidomide medical disaster. Interestingly, accompanying footage of these limb deficient children shows that they were actually much more mobile and able bodied without being strapped into these bits of apparatus. www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 9 of 32
Silver Nose Spectacles Syphilis can cause massive destruction to the nose, giving rise to the formation of "No Nose Clubs" in the 18th Century. This painted silver nose mounted on a spectacle frame was worn by a women who had suffered this fate. Apparently, she later sold the nose to her doctor for 3 pounds citing that she had remarried and that her husband preferred her without it. www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 10 of 32
Automated Wheel Chair Artist Donald Rodney, bed ridden through illness on the day of an exhibition opening, fitted this wheelchair with intelligent sensors that allowed it to roam through the gallery space, giving him a symbolic telepresence. Designed by: Donald Rodney www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 21 of 32
Superheroes Many much loved comic-book heroes seem to anticipate devlopments in "transhumanism'. Spiderman may seem a far-fetched fiction, but scientists have recently begun to develop biomaterials from spider silk that is being used to repair cartilage damage. www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 25 of 32
The Whizzinator Incredible piece of kit used to surreptitiously deliver an alternative urine sample. Legal action against the makers of The Whizzinator have meant that it sales have moved predominantly to sex shops. Designed by: Alternative Lifestyle Systems www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 29 of 32
Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate) Originally patented in 1996 as a treatment for angina, Viagra has become one of the best-selling pharmaceutical products in history, and is just one example of the thousands of chemical enhancements available to humans today. www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 31 of 32
Protein Powder Stools The "Superhuman" exhibition will host a number of debates on topics surrounding the possibilities and ethical implications of human enhancement, with these clever references to contemporary bodybuilding culture featuring as seating. www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/superhuman.aspxSam Dunne 32 of 32
The latest installment at the Wellcome Collection in London 'Superhuman' explores the extraordinary ways people have attempted to improve, adapt and enhance their body's performance throughout history. Ethical debates around the augmentation of our bodies are becoming as widespread in everyday life as they are in sports. By including objects such as spectacles and false teeth, the curators of 'Superhuman' reflect on how technologically enhanced our lives already are, thereby drawing our societies fears of technology into question.
With artifacts ranging from mechanical limbs to sports equipment, and a winning mix of historical, technological and artistic perspectives, the exhibition had plenty of ID eye candy for the design-inclined and, for the equally philosophical, a delightfully constructed exploration of what it means to be a human in an age of 'transhumanism.'