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Cosmetic vision pushes boundaries of art

Professor of Performance Art, Stelios Arcadiou, is known to push the boundaries of art, science and engineering through his works.

Known as Stelarc, the Australian artist is behind the critically-acclaimed Articulated Head (2010) and Ear on Arm (2006). Each project fused body and mind to machine, whether virtually, physically or experientially.

The Articulated Head is an industrial robot arm with an LCD screen at the end displaying a 3D head. It is packed with sensors to allow it to hear, see and speak and runs an algorithm that mimics simple brain functions.

For two years it enthralled visitors to Australia’s leading science museum, the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. An estimated 1.8 million people conversed with the Head.

For Ear on Arm, Sterlac had an ear surgically constructed and cell-grown on his arm. It challenged conventional ideas about cosmetic surgery and cultural norms of beauty. Huge media interest took it to a wide audience.

It remains a work in progress. Sterlac’s vision is to grow an ear lobe and install Bluetooth technology to allow listeners across the world to hear what the ear hears.

Sterlac’s work has led to a better public appreciation of the role of art in the context of technological development. Ear on Arm won the Gold Nica award, one of the most important prizes in art and technology. Curators across the world selected Sterlac’s work for the field’s most important exhibitions.

Ear on Arm was also a pioneering experiment in state of the art medical procedures. The methods used were repeated in 2012 by surgeons at John Hopkins University Hospital to create a new ear for a cancer patient.