Ability or super-ability?
Pixie Dust explores the notion of limb regeneration for humans within the contexts of science, sport, disability and super-ability. This is a film from the research and development for a series of works entitled ‘Wasted’, originally made for the BBC Big Screens as part of DaDaFest 09.
The title comes from the substance taken from the pigs gut matrix that is applied to wounds to prevent scarification and therefore allow continual growth of the tissue. Allegedly, this is used in finger regeneration, playing upon the surreal Disney-fication of scientific research.
We are entering a new era of clinical practice with the development of regenerative medicine, harnessing our previously undiscovered potential to ‘self-repair’ using stem cells as a way for the body to regenerate itself and to regenerate others.
Stem-cell biologists and those involved in regenerative medicine are fascinated by the story of Prometheus, the Greek god whose immortal liver was feasted on day after day. This myth provokes the questions: did the ancient Greeks know about the liver’s unique capacity for self-repair? What opportunities did the ancient Greeks have to learn about the liver’s structure and function?
In 20 years time , given the speed of medical research and the focus of regenerative research, could we see the regrowth of human limbs? Regeneration through the “natural process” contrasted with regeneration through defined techniques with defined outcomes, as pursued by science and technology?
Do we fundamentally seek to imitate, bypass or subvert nature? How do our attitudes to imitation, manipulation or subversion differ when set in context of human biology the larger ecosystem or, for example, the Olympics? Will we opt for the natural or the augmented? Vanity or function? Ability or super-ability? Will people with artificial limbs no longer be considered ‘disabled’ - but instead - ‘enhanced’?
With genetic enhancement, regenerative therapies, technological developments and bioengineering, the notion of ‘performance enhancement’ has to be redefined.
Funding & Support
Funded by Wellcome Trust and DaDafest.