Mark Doerksen is a PhD candidate in social and cultural analysis at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. He is also a member of the interdisciplinary Centre for Sensory Studies.
"The Sensible Beyond the Senses: Designing Bodies, Designing Words"
According to Bergson, our perceptions are subtractive of a reality that largely escapes us. Perceptions thus "put us into" matter, which are limited by our corporal (in)ability to sense. This claim is troubled by the practices of Grinders, a group that can be characterized as practical transhumanists. Grinders aim to enhance their sensory capabilities by assimilating emerging material technologies (including, but not limited to electronics) with their bodies. These body modification processes entail designing non-conventional senses by locating extra-sensory information that can then be translated (or mediated) into the body and ultimately literally made sense of. As a result of grinders' practices, elaborate reflexive knowledge-making circuits are formed that suggest, contrary to Bergson, that we instead (or at least also) 'put matter into us' on multiple planes. This research takes a critical posthumanist approach to examine how grinders can challenge humanist assumptions about senses and their function in contemporary society.