Editor’s Note: This story is part of “Smart Creativity,” a series exploring the intersection between high-concept design and advanced technology.
It’s 2018 and cyborgs live among us. But these human-machine hybrids don’t look the way movies might have you believe. Most blend into the crowd, their mechanical elements hidden from view.
Such is the case for Catalan avant-garde artist and cyborg activist Moon Ribas, who has implants connected to online seismographs in her feet. Any time there’s an earthquake somewhere on the planet, vibrations course through her body and the data is recorded online.
Ribas then transforms that data into dance or music, often incorporating elements of spontaneity and uncertainty. For example, the movements in the dance “Waiting for Earthquakes,” in which the artist stands perfectly still until seismic activity occurs, can take many shapes.
“I’m a dancer and a choreographer, so I wanted to experience movement in a deeper way,” she explains. “Whenever there is an earthquake, I move according to the intensity of the earthquake. It’s a bit like a duet between the earth and myself. Earth is actually the choreographer of the piece and I’m just imitating the data that she gives.”
These implants aren’t Ribas’ first time using body hacks to create avant-garde art.
Previously, she’s worn earrings that vibrated to reflect the speed of those walking around her (apparently pedestrians in London and Stockholm are particularly fast), and kaleidoscopic glasses that distorted her vision and color perception.
With her partner, Neil Harbisson, and their Cyborg Arts organization (an offshoot of the Cyborg Foundation they also founded), Ribas hopes to empower artists around the world to embrace new forms of technology to enhance their bodies and their work, and discover new ways to communicate phenomena that we cannot perceive with our senses.
“If you use technology, you can reveal this reality and get a deeper experience of the planet,” she says.
Watch the video above to find out more about Moon Ribas and how technology informs her practice.