The 7 Creepiest Uses Of Technology In Human History
There is a thin line between art and science that will one day be erased when the robots take over and all art becomes human organs smashed onto cold steel plates. But until that (frankly inevitable) day, here are a few art projects that cross that line, then turn around and obliterate it with laser cannons mounted on a spider tank. Welcome to the thesis that earned Victor Von Doom his arts doctorate:
The Anonymous Human Face Collection
Bear with us for a moment: We're beta testing a niche offshoot of Jeff Foxworthy humor.
"If your mantelpiece looks like this ..."
"... you might be a serial killer."
The above piece, Stranger Visions, is by artist and Ph.D. student Heather Dewey-Hagborg. She's employed a novel method of face theft: Rather than doing things the old-fashioned way with witch-curses and murderous nano-bots, she instead creates 3D-printed replicas of strangers' faces by scavenging old chewing gum and cigarette butts off the street and harvesting the carelessly discarded DNA within.
And this is why you don't smoke, kids: You could get cancer or become a victim of face-theft.
The artist then takes her disgusting street garbage to a do-it-yourself biolab in New York and examines the DNA to determine 40 to 50 genetic traits that influence the look of the face, such as race, eye color and spacing, and the likelihood of obesity. The data then goes through a program that reconstructs the face of the anonymous, unknowing subject ...
... brands them with a knowing, pitiless stare ...
And somewhere, a careless smoker wakes up without a face. They try to scream but have no mouth. Harlan Ellison chuckles in his sleep, though he does not know why.
Jewelry Parasites Fueled By Your Body
Remember The Matrix, in which evil robot overlords convert human beings into batteries to power their unholy empire? Most people saw that and shuddered. Designer Naomi Kizhner saw it and figured the only thing missing was appropriate bling.
Kizhner's project, dubbed Energy Addicts, starts out innocently enough with the "blinker," a device that sits on the bridge of your nose converting blinking motions to electricity while simultaneously making you look like an extra from David Lynch's Dune.
Get back on your sandworm and go get a refund for that.
Then there's the "e-pulse conductor," the severed pincer of a metal scorpion that feasts on the electric impulses of your spinal cord. Because, in a post-apocalyptic world of energy shortages, how else are you going to maintain enough charge on your iPhone to boot up Fruit Ninja?
You know it's cutting-edge fashion when people try to swat
your accessories with a rolled-up magazine.
Finally, there's the "blood bridge," a thumb-sized steampunk parasite that derives energy from the flow of your own blood -- energy that would otherwise have been wasted by, y'know, keeping you alive. The blood bridge stabs a needle into your veins at both ends and acts as a kind of hydroelectric dam in your circulatory system, using blood flow to spin a tiny little turbine and generate electricity.
"It gets even more efficient when my blood pressure spikes from terror screaming
because holy shit this thing is in my vein!"
For now, these devices are practical only as art: The amount of energy they'd generate could barely power a wristwatch. But at least we have think tanks tackling the problem of how to reduce human beings to their basic electrical potential so that our future robotic despots won't have to.
Techno-Fashions Fit For A Supervillain
The Spider-Man movies feature colorful villains with elaborate get-ups that let them stomp around on robot legs or shoot acid out of their armpits, and yet that costume designer never gets any damn credit. Here she is: Dutch fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht.
Seen here preparing to destroy the Ghostbusters.
Wipprecht merges the latest trends in fashion with the latest monologues in mad science. One of her hottest creations is the Faraday dress -- a stylish frock held together with metal wires that replicate the effects of a Faraday cage, which protects the wearer from lightning bolts. The Faraday dress is perfect for the villainess who finds herself frequently on the wrong side of a Thor, or who likes to make catty comments about Storm's mohawk phase.
Wipprecht also designed the Spider Dress, a gown that comes equipped with shoulder-mounted robotic spider legs and motion sensors to provide the wearer with a kind of spider-sense. The sensors detect the motion of anyone approaching the wearer. If they come at you aggressively, the spider legs will automatically assume an attack position. If they approach you passively, the legs will relax and even make beckoning gestures so that the victim might continue to approach until you can seize them and liquefy their innards with your lady venom.
Wipprecht's other creations include Intimacy 2.0, which utilizes futuristic materials that turn transparent depending on the wearer's heartbeat. Get too excited and parts of your clothing will turn transparent, which seems directly in line with the design sense of female comic book characters. Then there's the Smoke Dress, which pumps out a cloud of smoke whenever anyone approaches, enabling you to make a ninja-style getaway.
Because literally everyone is a potential enemy when you dress like this.
Dolls Made From Living Human Cells
Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, who already have the preposterous names of comic book characters, have made one ominous appearance on this site already. And now here they are again with their latest excursion into the field of "bio-art."
With that name you can probably gather that we aren't exactly talking papier-mache here.
Those wet, pulsating, screaming voodoo monstrosities are made out of living cells. Each doll comes pre-terrifyingly named for easy identification in your new recurring nightmares. They are: Absolute Truth, Biotechnology, Capitalism, Demagogy, Eugenics, Fear Itself, and the ironically named Hope.
The easiest to identify is Fear Itself, because it's all of them.
And just to drive home the point that scientific progress requires sacrifice (it doesn't matter who -- the scientist, the subject, the unsuspecting world) Doll G was created solely in order to watch it die a slow death. It was hanged by the neck in its growth chamber so that the weight of its own growing body would eventually decapitate it, thus symbolizing the "death" of the notion that life is nothing more than a genetic Tinkertoy. Or maybe just as practice for those who will eventually oppose the Zurr-Catts Consortium.
A Mask That Feeds You Algae Grown By Your Breath And Powered By Your Voice
No, we did not stroke out while typing the above subhead.
Futurologists often speculate on what humanity will look like once we inevitably merge with technology. According to artists Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta, we will all be mixed-race Cthulhus.
Apparently the R'lyeh garment district tends toward the avant garde.
The Algaculture suit is inspired by a species of sea slug that feeds on algae and then absorbs the photosynthetic ability. The result is that they never have to eat again, instead gaining sustenance from light and carbon dioxide. According to the artists, humans could one day harness this power with the help of technology, simultaneously solving the shortages of both food and quality cephalopod fellatio porn.
Kissing, flossing, and vomiting may get a little awkward, though.
The apparatus captures the carbon dioxide from your breath and feeds it to an ever-growing reservoir of algae. When you get hungry, you simply slurp the concoction like a slimy green milkshake through the world's most horrifying crazy straw. And because sound helps to stimulate algae growth, the process is powered by your voice, which means that you're basically feeding on your own day-to-day banalities. Jesus, that sounds like an ironic punishment the devil would develop for people who won't shut up about their vegan diet.
The Algaculture suit made its debut in a live performance called The Algae Opera, where listeners were invited to sample the sumptuous green sludge grown from the breath of opera singer Louise Ashcroft as she sang into the device. Of all the future sci-fi scenarios that might come to pass, few people figured that the truth would best resemble the most out of place scene in The Fifth Element.
Though hopefully without the firefight followed by an hour of Chris Tucker screaming.
Destroying Worlds As An Art Form
"Man is not meant to play God!" That phrase is usually screamed by our hero as he is dragged out of the Pimpmanzee Bio-Engineering Center, but artist Angelo Vermeulen figured that you can't play God without being a little playful. The result was his 2005 project Blue Shift.
Don't worry: We'll get to the blue when we get to the horror.
The premise is simple enough. Vermeulen set up a bunch of tanks, each containing some fish and a society of water fleas, illuminated by an orange light. Water fleas are attracted by the light, so they stay near the surface, above a barrier that keeps the fish from getting to them. Both species live in an uneasy aquatic harmony.
Ah, but the tanks are set up with motion detectors, so that if a passerby approaches, the orange light switches to blue. The fleas are generally repelled by blue light, so they swim down into the domain of the fish, which immediately devour them. Presumably Vermeulen heard Oppenheimer's famous quoting of the Bhagavad Gita and figured even the common man should know what it feels like to become the destroyer of worlds.
"At least I die knowing my death confused a bunch of pretentious art snobs."
Using Electricity To Turn Humans Into Marionettes
Daito Manabe's research involves hooking human beings up to electrodes through which he can pass a current, thereby manipulating people's movements through electro-stimulation. But you can just call him The Puppet Master when you are forced to kneel before him.
Manabe produced the above music video by attaching over 40 electrode setups to the "volunteers," which delivered a series of electric shocks that caused his listless dancers to flop and twitch to the beat of the music. Of course Manabe tested his devices on himself first. After all, if he hadn't, what would push him over the brink into madness?
Strangely enough, Manabe isn't the only one paving the way for the Dance Dance Robot Revolution. In a 1995 performance called Fractal Flesh, Australian artist Stelarc connected electrodes to his limbs and allowed online spectators to remotely choreograph his dance through timed electric shocks. And in a later performance titled Ping Body, Stelarc bravely gave complete control of his muscles to the Internet.
Word is he still hasn't stopped masturbating while punching himself in the face.
Mr. Yee is a mad writer seeking to procure the funds he needs to begin the next phase of his diabolical schemes. Buy his shirts.
For more supervillain how-tos, check out 5 Works Of Legitimate Mad Science Passed Off As Art and 6 Incredible Real-World Supervillain Lairs .
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