LOS ANGELES, CA, USA
PROSTHETIC.SEMINAR: A research-based graduate technology seminar that was taught by Marta Nowak at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design during Fall 2015, Winter 2016 and Fall 2017. The projects illustrated here are the work of students in that seminar.
The term prosthesis is most commonly used to describe physical and material objects that replace or restore biological organs—artificial body parts, such as a leg, a heart, or a breast implant. However, as sociocultural objects with a complex set of meanings and associations (both semantic and somatic), prostheses are also used to refer to technological systems that extend beyond the physical or corporeal limits of the human body. In most contemporary scholarly literature, especially those in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and cultural studies, prosthesis is often used as synonymous with common forms of body-machine interface that intervenes on human subjectivity. In these writings, from feminist theory to cyborg theory, prosthesis is used to describe any artificial object, machine, or technology (such as a car, a computer, or a sexual device) that mediates human relations.
Today, these technological systems play other roles besides being integrated to our buildings in form of standardized components, elements, or fixtures. The prosthesis cannot only connect the body and physical space or environment but also to virtual space.
The seminar is concerned with the human-scale interventions that question, re-imagine, re-design, and re-model the artificially-enhanced and equipped body that would inhabit them. Through this investigation, the seminar, aims to extend the role of architecture beyond compliance to pre-existing conditions imposed by the human body (as aesthetics or stylistics containers), and instead, call into question the organic body that has been so irretrievably defined by.