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Corporeal Mélange: Aesthetics and Ethics of Biomaterials in Stelarc and Nina Sellars’s Blender

Corporeal Mélange: Aesthetics and Ethics of Biomaterials in Stelarc and Nina Sellars’s Blender

by Julie Clarke

In this article I consider Stelarc and Nina Sellars’s 2005 installation Blender alongside the works of contemporary artists who have used biomaterials in their oeuvres (although this comparison and description is not all inclusive). I argue that, since the artists’ previous artworks have engaged with the effects of technology on human ontology, Blender may be read as advancing some of these ideas. I propose that, although the aesthetic of the biomaterials in the installation is consistent with Stelarc’s interest in portraying the body as a kind of land- scape, it also evokes the potent use of human or animal fat by contemporary artists and filmmakers who alert us to the par- adoxical nature of the human body, which is perceived as both waste and as of use value. I maintain that, although the artists used liposuction to obtain biomaterials for the installation, Blender was not intended to provoke a discussion of cosmetic body modification. Instead the modification they allude to is one instigated in a laboratory, where human biomaterials are blended and used in various biomedical techniques. [continue reading here ]