Non-Traditional Prosthetics (2019)Curators: Joe Molohon, Davis Reinsel, Taia Strachan, Cara Stromback | University of Minnesota | December 2019
Collection Editor: Isabel Pedersen
Acquisitions Editor: Ann Hill Duin
Collection Archivists: Sharon Caldwell and Jack Narine
This collection brings together a number of examples of non-traditional prosthetics to explore how these prosthetics aid in rehabilitation, health and wellness, and even reveal cultural depiction in entertainment and art. We deem non-traditional prosthetics to be artificial body parts framed as one step beyond replacement limbs. We include artifacts such as artificial skin, exoskeletons, neurological implants, virtual AR, and other technologically enhanced wearables, implantables, and embeddables.
We explore social implications of these advancements that are leading to amputees and those with other medical conditions to regain previous functionality. We identify that in some cases, these prosthetics suggest granting abilities that go beyond what is considered humanly possible. Our collection also brings us to the understanding that skin, limbs, and potentially even organs could be 3D-printed, thus reducing the amount of time spent on a waiting list for a donor.
We include cultural and artistic responses to these innovations that may lead to other implications. Moving into the entertainment side of things, non-traditional prosthetics have brought new points of view for filmmakers. For example, Rob Spence, has put a camera in his eye, calling it “bionic”. Spence discusses how his losing an eye has led him to reimagine augmentation. Of course, this transformation also reveals a new concern for privacy as these types of cameras and monitoring devices are much more inconspicuous and difficult to spot. The danger of weaponization is also possible in theory as these prosthetics continue to serve more functions and become more complex in their versatility.
We also identify the complexity of some of these technologies when different audiences are involved. Augmented reality (AR) is unique in this regard. Entertainment starts to blend with medical discourses when looking at augmented reality (AR). AR devices can be used by people with (and without) medical conditions by augmenting their daily tasks and overall lives.
Finally, we also include popular culture and a few fictional examples of how these types of prosthetics have been portrayed in use throughout media.