An Australian artist has turned his body into a canvas and inserted a human ear underneath the skin of his forearm. Yes, this happened.
Stelarc, based in Perth, says the project has taken 20 years to come to life.
The third ear will effectively act as a glorified recorder that will allow the world to listen in and hear whatever the professor, who leads a team at the Alternate Anatomies Laboratory at Curtin University, wants us to experience.
Although he thought of the idea in 1996, it has taken him a long time to recruit a medical team willing to do the necessaries to make his art come to life.
Doctors inserted a bio-polymer scaffold underneath Stelarc’s skin around which, blood vessels and tissue formed and while the procedure seems to have worked, he believes the next step is for medics to use his stem cells to grow the lobe.
The essential component of this entire project is a non-biological one — a microphone.
According to ABC News in Australia, the professor’s third ear did have one attached, but it had to be removed due to infection.
Once the ear becomes fully functioning, Stelarc would like to connect it to the internet via Wi-Fi and let the world listen in on his experiences.
“Increasingly now, people are becoming internet portals of experience … imagine if I could hear with the ears of someone in New York, imagine if I at the same time could see with the eyes of someone in London,” he told ABC News.
The feed of audio will essentially stay on the whole time and the potential lack of privacy doesn’t appear to bother Stelarc.
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“There won’t be an on-off switch.”
He added: “If I’m not in a wi-fi hotspot or I switch off my home modem, then perhaps I’ll be offline, but the idea actually is to try to keep the ear online all the time.”
Whether or not the internet loves Stelarc’s ear remains to be seen as art is in the eye of the beholder.