Course Offerings

Prof. Dr. Patricia Ribault

Technobodies. Capacities, Limits and Transformations

• To understand how human bodies relate to Technique.
• To put into perspective the norms and criteria defining bodies with regard to what may “enhance” or transform them
• To question the capacities and limits of a bodily apparatus according to different socio-cultural perspectives
• To propose experimental models and representations of these relations

This seminar will address the question of how the human body relates to Technique, from an anthropological, philosophical and sociological perspective. We will focus on the plasticity as well as the limits of the undetermined human body, in relation to the prosthetic extensions (ie. the tools) that we have developed to compensate our inherent lack of technicality. What is so specific about a body that cannot be considered without its prosthetics? How much does it depend on the various devices invented to master the environment, to shape it to our own needs and desires? On the contrary, how adaptable, resilient and flexible is it? Is the hyper connected/transhuman/cyborg body so different from the « bodily apparatus » of our ancestors, still adapted to hunt mammoths?

We know that the body can be shaped and modelled, but beyond its limits, there is also the question of the formation and deformation: when do we stop shaping a body and start deforming it? What would a normal body be? Do the processes of learning techniques through new gestures and habits, through the use of tools and machines make our body « denatured », carried away from its biological state of being, or is this prosthetic evolution part of a bio-logical process of adaptation to the environment? And, if we consider like Jean-Luc Nancy, that a body is necessarily « open », « extended », « exposed » to the world and connected to it by Technique - the « eco-technical of bodies » -, what kind of body is the « practised » or « augmented » body, plugged onto its technical apparatus? In other words, can we say that Technique « makes » the Human Body, merges with it, and if so, how? What kind of relationship does it have with the Technique that he produces? What articulates a body with the technique that it secretes out of itself, but also from itself, by itself? And, from a sociological point of view, what are the “acceptable” limits of a voluntarily transformed body?

• We will confront various texts and theories by André Leroi-Gourhan, Marcel Mauss, as well as Jean-Luc Nancy, Bruno Latour, Giorgio Agamben, Bernard Stiegler, Gilbert Simondon
• Texts will be read both in a dynamic and collective way as well as on a personal and in-depth capacity (at home).
• We will see how the fields of Art and Design respond to these questions, through several examples of contemporary productions, performances, films and documentaries.
• At the beginning of each session, we will question the Technobodies’ actuality and share a relevant example gathered in the news, arts, engineering, literature, sciences, documentary…
• Students will be invited to present, perform and/or design some case-studies of interrelations between the body and a given technical apparatus
• We will organize a radio program to share our questions and findings in collaboration with Beaux-Arts de Paris ( This will give us the opportunity to explore a new way to think collectively, discuss and improvise a dialogue.

Room: Mart Stam Room (or online course if the number of participants exceeds 7 students)


- Thursday 8th October - 10.00 to 12.00: presentation of the seminar - Mart Stam Raum

- Thursday 15th October - 10.00 to 12.00 - online - presentation of the seminar for those who could not access the Mart Stam Raum on 8/10

- Thursday 29th October - 10.00 to 12.00 - Genealogy of the prosthetic body 1: Human Gesture / Animal Gesture

- Thursday 5th November - 10.00 to 12.00 - Genealogy of the prosthetic body 2: Technical Exteriorisation

- Thursday 19th November - 10.00 to 12.00: online session: one-on-one meetings

- Thursday 26th November - 10.00 to 12.00 - The sense of Touch

- Thursday 3rd December - 10.00 to 12.00 - Session with Felix Rasehorn on Hyper Haptics and embodied interaction

- Thursday 10th December - 10.00 to 12.00 - What about Enhancement 1: Mythology of Technics

- Thursday 7th January - 10.00 to 12.00: online session: one-on-one meetings

- Thursday 14th January - 10.00 to 12.00 - What about Enhancement 2: The Ecotechnical

- Thursday 21st January - 10.00 to 12.00 - Visit to an exhibition / lecture by a guest (to be confirmed)

- Thursday 4th February - 10.00 to 12.00: Final presentation on Radiobal - 10.00 to 13.00

A seminar in English, limited to 20 participants maximum (designers and artists)

Wintersemester 2020/2021

all studies

Location : Mart Stam Raum, G1.01

Number of participants : 0 (0)

Hours/week : 2