Extending your cognition with technology

Woman in a white art studio, wearing a white dress and hold a piece of plaster shaped like a bird. The table infront is full of plaster mouldings and the walls are covered in flat sculptures.
Extending your thought process into objects to create new knowledge

Cognition does not reside solely in the brain, our body and our world are also part of the cognitive process. While some actions are purely pragmatic and functional, such as switching a light on, ‘epistemic actions’ alter the world in order to aid our cognitive processes, for example rotating a puzzle piece to determine how it will fit, or drawing out a mind map to brainstorm ideas. There is a two way action, brain informs -> action which informs -> brain. We are extending our thought processes into the world through these actions and objects, in my field of design…


Knowledgeable sight vs emotive hearing

Black and white photo of a young boy with short hair screaming into a large microphone.

As we perceive and understand our world through our senses they have taken on more intangible or metaphorical associations beyond their physical abilities. Our senses determine not just how we perceive reality functionally but also how we understand and interact with it socially and symbolically. Here we look at the differences between what are considered (in the West) as the 2 most dominant senses — sight and hearing.

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

We have established sight as our paradigm of belief, which we can ‘see’ in the terminology and phrases that proliferate our language — ‘seeing is believing’, ‘I’ll believe it when I see…


Part 2

Illustration of Medusa, female face with snake skin forhead and numerous snakes in place of her hair
Illustration of Medusa — a Gorgon from Greek mythology

This blog is the second of a two part series which explores hybrid human and non-human identities, in a time when we are opening up what identity means and are considering the role of non-human actors in our lives — such as animals, the environment, materials and data. The first part focused on humans merged with technology, otherwise known as ‘cyborgs’, looking at real-life, science fiction and non-human cyborgs — click here to read ‘Part 1: Cyborgs’.

Where Part 1 looked at the human-machine merger, Part 2 is a little bit different, here we will explore hybrids that are found…


Part 1

Cyborg Artist Viktoria Modesta crouching down showing off her metal leg in a heel, wearing a long white trench coat
Cyborg Artist Viktoria Modesta

We have been seeing a rapid change in the landscape of identity - moving away from rigid binary boxes, particularly when it comes to gender. We are slowly becoming a society which embraces the plurality of identity and self-definition — or are moving away from definitions altogether. In the world of human enhancement and posthumanism there is also a general questioning of how we define a ‘human’ and who has historically qualified as such. …


Power, Identity & Body Modification

Photo of the torso and arm of a heavily tattooed woman lifting a weight

The body is political. It has been described as a ‘tomb’ (Plato), a ‘temple’ (Saint Paul), a ‘machine’ (Descartes), and the self (‘I am my body’ — Sartre). Our body can represent our identity, our past, our race, gender and status, and be a symbol for our society. However, how our bodies are viewed and categorised is not always in the power of the body’s inhabiter, many of these definitions are imposed upon us by systems of power beyond our control. What is considered a ‘normal’, or socially acceptable, body is dependent on when and where you live and what…


A brief history of Sensory Substitution Devices

Plaster sculpture of two ears attached to the chest representing sensory augmentation — by Lesley-Ann Daly
Enhanced hearing sculpture by Lesley-Ann Daly, 2017

WHAT ARE OUR SENSES?

We perceive the world around us by interpreting information from our five senses — we see the room around us, listen to the music, feel the seat beneath us, smell the rainy air and taste the warm mug of tea — in other words we see, hear, touch, smell and taste our reality. …


5 designs that imagine the future possibilities for enhancing our senses

Headphones with ears on the inside, and body map of implanted devices. Anthropomorphic Sensory Augmentation by Lesley-Ann Daly
‘Anthropomorphic Sensory Augmentation’ — network of implanted devices, by Lesley-Ann Daly, 2016

From seeing hidden colours of the light spectrum to understanding information through our skin, Sensory Augmentation devices merge the human with technology to open up new sensory abilities — and the possibilities are potentially endless. In previous blogs we have looked at several people who already use the technology and how it affects their lives in unique ways. Here we will look at the work of some designers who have speculated upon new possibilities for Sensory Augmentation, imagining future technology that is not yet in our reach. …


From feeling the magnetic feild of the planet to hearing wifi, discover the people who have augmented their perception with a new sense.

Multicoloured corridor

In a previous blog we explored Sensory Augmentation technology — a way to expand our perception of the world by merging with technology, giving us added sensory information about the world around us. Here are 5 people who have designed and created their own technology to do just that!

LIVIU BABITZ


The action and ethics of augmenting the human

Large hand image with white cable coming out from the wrist — merged with the flesh

WHAT IS HUMAN ENHANCEMENT?

The idea of using technology to enhance humans has been prominent throughout history and has been popularised by the media for a good part of the last century — from classic sci-fi books such as ‘Brave New World’ (1932), to films like ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (1995) and ‘Gattaca’ (1997). However, the rapid pace of scientific and technological innovation in the last century has created seemingly endless new possibilities for humans to augment themselves in reality, body and mind, in order to gain new abilities — otherwise known as Human Enhancement (HEt). …


How to enhance your world with Sensory Augmentation technology

Mannequin chest with lots of plaster fingers reaching towards the NorthSense, a Sensory Augmentation device by CyborgNest
‘Commodification of Metamorphosis’ featuring the NorthSense device by CyborgNest — by Lesley-Ann Daly, 2018

What if you could feel infra-red light? Or hear colour? Or even read your Twitter posts through vibrations on your skin? And if you could, how would this new sensory information change how you perceive the world around you, or change how you live your life? Through the development of Sensory Augmentation technology we can now begin to explore new sensory experiences that have otherwise been beyond our reach due to our limited sensory capabilities.

Sensory Augmentation is:

the extension of the body’s ability to sense aspects of the environment that…

Lesley-Ann Daly

PhD Designer and Researcher of Sensory Augmentation tech // Design Strategist at CyborgNest // lesleyanndaly.com

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