Claudia Rebola (Associate Professor, Industrial Design) presented her work among a small group of selected scholars at the, Imaginaries of the Future symposium, Utopia After the Human, held at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, from the 11-12th April 2017.
Imaginaries of the Future is a Leverhulme International Research Network designed to think through how we might think about the future. It does not advance specific visions of the future as such, but rather seeks to develop strategies for conceptualizing ‘the future’, without doing violence to the bodies that might inhabit and (re)produce it. It is utopian rather than futurological in orientation, and believes that the utopian should not be reduced to the fanciful, impossible or authoritarian.
Rebola collaborated with Stephan Sonnenburg, Professor at the Management and Performance Department Karlshochschule International University with their paper and presentation Human-Robot-Hybridity in Performance: Approaching a new Da-Sein by Disability. Prosthetics and disability pose a promising opportunity to elaborate on the human-robot- hybridity performance by pointing out futures where they are celebrated as a glorified norm of augmented abilities. Disability, as opposed to stigma, can embody a new meaning in the hybrid. Understanding that “to be” emerges out of being, out of performance, out of doing, who is the performer as a new being in the world? Is disability desirable? Is disability the future norm? As we are not “independent” anymore on the other side, we may anticipate a reality in which we do not or cannot any longer differentiate between disabled or non-disabled humans. While speculating on the controversial insistence on the capacity of nonhumans—devices to act or participate in the human-robot performance, the presentation questioned the role of technology as personal, local and global prosthetics actors for augmenting the self.