280MAPA research diary #1

Postdigital Body

Human existence has always been questioned. People always wanted to figure out the difference between a soul and a spirit, a body and a mind. Back in the 17th century a French philosopher Rene Descartes came up with a mind-body dualism thesis and stated that mind and body are completely distinct and can exist without one another (Skirry n.d.). Nowadays we have to add another question to the pile and wonder how digital/postdigital we are.

According to the dictionary, body is the physical structure, including the bones, flesh, and organs, of a person or an animal, however, in this day and age it is a lot more than that. Due to advanced technology and medicine, our physical bodies are often enhanced and assisted by not-so-natural things. Starting from laser eye surgery, gastric banding surgery, to having fake teeth, prosthetics, artificial hearts, etc. In the digitalised era, our natural bodies become not so natural. They are digital and enhanced. Great real life examples are cyborgs who made augmentations to their bodies in order to improve themselves, such as Neil Harbisson who has an antenna installed in the middle of his head, Steve Mann who wears digital glasses that enhance his memory and his vision, etc.

Postdigital body, however, is a little bit more complicated concept. It looks at a physical body and technology/devices as a one piece, as one postdigital body. Deborah Lupton in  “The Quantified Self” wrote that ‘The personal data that are collected using self-tracking devices – photographs, videos, messages, interactions on social media, calendar entries, geological information, bodily functions and activities – become biographical repository of significance and meaning to the user” which means that body is seen as data, as internet/virtual identity.  We assimilate to our accounts on media platforms and we become the information that we share, which links to what media professor Mark Deuze said: “The spread of media, particularly digital media, into most avenues of everyday  life is so extensive that we should now not talk about living with ‘with media’ but rather ‘in media’, and therefore “living media life'”.

What a long time ago was a mystery and unreachable, now became a reality, a visual one. For example, human bodies can be seen inside and out by everyone. BioDigital.com is a website where anyone can look into human bodies, analyse the most detailed organs without actually having to interact with a person.  A modern human body (postigital body) is seen as some sort of medium and can be explored and studies by others.
In conclusion, I would like to say that human bodies are more complicated than I thought they are. My body extends to the digital space and social media and I am my data.
*** Biodigital: 3D Human Visualization Platform For Anatomy And Disease (n.d.) available from <https://www.biodigital.com/&gt; [1 March 2018]
*** Deuze, M. (2012) Media Life. Cambridge: Polity Press
*** Lupton, D. (2016) The Quantified Self. Cambridge, UK: Polity
*** Skirry, J. (n.d.) Descartes, Rene: Mind-Body Distinction | Internet Encyclopedia Of Philosophy [online] available from <https://www.iep.utm.edu/descmind/&gt; [1 March 2018]


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