(University of Bradford)
Paper Short Abstract:
The Artificial Ape argued that bodies, qua artefacts, can present skeuomorphically. The artifice of changing surfaces does not mask something deeper and more significant. It is what is distinctively human and thus properly real.
Paper long abstract:
'You're born naked and the rest is drag' (Ru Paul André Charles)
One of the main arguments advanced in The Artificial Ape is that humans are bio-technological symbionts, and have been ever since our species' emergence, the realm of technology creating the conditions into which we evolve. A natural state completed by artefacts had significant implications for decreased sexual dimorphism, and the migration of sex and identity markers outwards into material adornment and gender coded clothing. As humans become increasingly artefactual so, like other artefacts, they have scope to display skeuomorphism. But although possibilities for fluidity arise, these are typically restricted by the appeals that communities make to 'the natural' as they seek legitimacy for artificially created social orders. The essentialist appeal begins with the ideas of men and women whose differences by being both real and imagined, can be used to leverage a series of other, wholly imagined or projected divisions of role and status. Thus reality is always assumed to somehow be underlying, authentically revealed only if people arbitrarily present themselves in a culturally agreed appropriate manner. This presentation/ performance draws on personal experience of alterable identity to adumbrate the point that the phenomenon is - as Wittgenstein notes - not always a symptom of something else: the artifice of changing surfaces does not mask something deeper and more significant. It is what is distinctively human and thus properly real. Some social and political implications are signalled.
Pluralist practices: archaeology is nothing, archaeology is everything