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Last on

Tue 9 Jun 2009 11:30 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 09 June 2009

Bob Dickinson talks to performance artists who have used their own bodies as a site for art, and in doing so challenged the limits of what it means to be human.

In 2008 the Australian artist, Stelarc, began a new project in which he grew a genetically-cloned ear on his left arm. This cloned organ will, after continuing surgery, be fitted with a microphone and linked to the internet, so that we will all be able to listen, from our PCs, to what Stelarc is hearing through his 'extra ear'. At the same time, the French artist, Orlan, produced an installation, Harlequin Coat, which uses recombinant DNA technology to fuse living cells taken from her body with the cells of other humans, and animals.

Bob Dickinson talks to these artists and others, including Marina Abramovic, Franko B and the Chinese artist He Yun Chang, and asks them what makes them want to endure discomfort, pain and isolation. He reports on the way in which certain artists are now moving away from the limited space of their bodies, fascinated by the way technology and genetic engineering are remapping our understanding of the self.

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