Abstract- Going Beyond the Body's Limits: Raoul Hausmann's Art of Prosthetic Perception

Avant-garde cultures of the 1920s, revolving around then-new media, envisioned the fusion of art and technology as a decisive step in the shaping of “new man,” the human of the future, liberated from the constraints of nature and tradition. The work of Raoul Hausmann, most widely known for his leading role in Berlin Dada, provides a particularly rich case for analyzing the ambivalences of this utopian view of the relationship between body and technology, art and science. The cyborgian visualizations of highly technologized bodies he created in the new medium of photo montage contrast sharply with his critique of prostheses for fixing maimed bodies by means of technology. Similar tensions characterize his projects to extend the perceptual capacities of human beings. His “optophonetic poetry” was a typographic as well as linguistic effort to blur differences between sound and vision. At the same time he engaged in the construction of machines converting the optical and acoustic to immersive data spaces designed to augment human perception to hitherto unknown realms. Hausmann’s vision of re-engineered human bodies perceiving “nature” has collapsed but his works open up new ways of exploring the epistemologies of modern technosciences.