ART REVIEW: STELARC’S ZOMBIE (7 OUT OF 10)
This past Thursday the renowned Australian performance artist known simply as Stelarc brought his unique artistic vision to Buffalo’s Soundlab. In a two hour lecture/demonstration attended by over 100 people, Stelarc swept through nearly his entire catalogue of work, in a show set up to help relieve the University at Buffalo’s own beleaguered art professor Steve Kurtz of the lawyer fees he will be facing from his impending trials next year. Stelarc is definitely not your typical artist. He deals mainly with the relationship between the human body and our vastly expanding modern technology and he uses himself as the guinea pig for his human/technology experiments.
Stelarc’s show, aptly titled Zombie, set out to display his core belief that human bodies are both zombies and cyborgs that act involuntarily. While this may sound a little far fetched, his entire artistic repertoire, consisting of several different media, well demonstrated his ideas about the human body. Showing various slides and video/audio clips, Stelarc rifled through his work, consisting of everything from suspension (in which he hangs himself on meat hooks for extended periods of time) all the way to some of his latest projects in which he is attempting to reproduce a human ear and have it attached to his body. Some of his other famous pieces include the creation of hi-tech prosthetics such as a third hand and a giant exoskeletal walking machine. All of his art is very blunt, using a mix of metal and flesh to show how humans are coupled with their technology.
By looking at many of the pieces that Stelarc showed, you may have thought that he was the prop guy for some of Marilyn Manson’s earlier videos. However, Stelarc came across as nothing short of brilliant. While some of his ideas may be a bit bizarre, Stelarc showed an incredible aptitude for technological knowledge, taking on projects encompassing computer programming, robotic engineering, and even tissue growth. Everything Stelarc had to show was cutting-edge and jaw-dropping.
The show itself went pretty well. Stelarc was well-spoken and immensely engaging. He cracked a few good one liners and seemed to really love talking about all of his work. The lecture barely ever dragged, but some simple technical problems encountered by Stelarc’s assistants slowed the show down and made it seem rather unrehearsed. While Stelarc did give one live demonstration by sending electrical pulses into some of the audience members’ limbs to demonstrate their involuntary motion, it would have been interesting (though rather unrealistic) to see more of the actual devices he had created himself, like the robotic arms or walking machines. And while Soundlab seems like a decent place to check out house music or small bands, its scale and technological shortcomings impeded Stelarc’s lecture.
For more information about Stelarc check out www.stelarc.va.com.au
And for venue information about Soundlab go to