GESTALT BIOMETRICS

21 02 2009

By HANNAH DRAYSON

Technology is not demonic, but its essence is mysterious.”
Martin Heidegger.

This paper forms part of an ongoing project, the aim of which is to incorporate physiological sensing technologies (1) into consciousness studies and creative technologies.
Physiological sensor technologies are tools that allow their users to magnify, focus upon and amplify certain aspects of human bodily function. Whilst these technologies find application in a range of domains, predominantly, their use is informed by biomedical science and medical practice.
These fields (2) incorporate a model of the human subject (Samson, 1999) which is unsuitable paradigmatically for the purposes of this work. Instruments such as the electrocardiograph and plethysmograph as tools of western bioscientific medicine may therefore also be seen to embody certain attitudes towards the human subject.
Physiological sensors have much to offer for the exploration of the reality of the human body, experience and consciousness, and also applications in the arts (Rosenboom, 1976), (Brouse et al, 2006). Applications such as biofeedback offer the subject an opportunity to experience the body in new ways or enhance perception. However, a disparity arises when phenomenological engagement with bodily experience is then mediated by medical instrumentation if it embodies a biomedical discourse which has been criticised for its exclusion of the human subject. To proceed, this paper aims to clarify the nature of this mediation by examining relevant critiques of biomedical models of the subject and their relation to instrumental technologies, suggesting possible solutions to explore in further work.

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