I came across this interesting video last week on BME Modblog. If you are unaware, the Nintendo 3DS now offers augmented reality video games. One gamer was so excited by this new technology, he got the AR card tattooed on his forearm to allow himself to become part of the game experience itself.
This exemplifies what Nathan and others have discussed on this blog many times. That is, the merging of the digital and the material and the creation of an augmented reality. So is the man in this video truly a “cyborg?” I believe so. In fact, we all are to a certain extent. Heck, you are reading this blog right now, engaging in a dialogue with me from far away through the help of internet technology. In this sense, the Nintendo DS AR card tattoo serves as an exemplary case of modification and the new cyborg body that I have spoken about before in this blog.
For clarity, I refer back to PJ’s definition of augmented reality and the cyborg. He states,
Cyborgs are the indigenous subjects that inhabit augmented reality. They are physical bodies enmeshed in the techno-social formations that characterize a particular historical moment. In conventional sociological terms, cyborgs are the micro/agentic object of inquiry when augmented reality is the macro/structural unit of analysis.
In my opinion, extreme body modifiers are the vanguard of the new cyborg body. Individuals who insert magnets into their fingers, place implants in their foreheards, stretch their earlobes, split their tongues, and tattoo simulated images on their bodies are all exemplary cases of the Haraway’s cyborg. They take the academic metaphor to the next level.
But like I have stated before, these instances of body modification are nothing new; affluent white westerners are not the first to modify their bodies in extreme ways. What is new is the use of sophisticated technology to extend and enlist the corporeal in creative ways. This Nintendo DS AR card tattoo is but one example. Perhaps in the future we will see other individuals merging body modification with other unique passions like gaming.
So how far will augmented reality lead us? And what are some of the limitations to this new augmented reality? Is this really anything “new?”
Onward and into the future, Godspeed.