Cyborg Fashion

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Fashion and Adoption of Technology

In Cyborg, Steve Mann writes that "people are afraid technology will turn them into cyborgs, but to present this is to make it fashionable..." (Mann, Cyborg, 95).

Indeed, fashionable technology is what makes people lust after technologies like cars and phones, even though cars and phones are ultimately just machines. Prior to this, even though communication platforms such as Twitter existed in the form of IRC, and networks of people and statuses like Facebook existed at PARC, these technologies were not visually or aesthetically pleasing, leading to a depletion of the enjoyment of the experience. Even more, they were large, unwieldy and unaffordable.

"Regardless of how far you want to take the "we are already cyborgs" maxim, clearly in parts of the world cyborg reality pervades. When once - in the early 1980's for instance - I was regarded as freakish and bizarre, I am not understood by those who check their Email in the back seat of a taxi, make a phone call on the subway, or spend time during their luxury cruise staring down at a laptop. Walking the streets, I find that states are more curious than hostile -- no longer considered an unpredictable sci-fi apparition, I am not just another cyborg in possession of advanced cyborg technologies. For better or worse, I have the latest gizmo in a society of people who worship their gizmos" (Mann, Cyborg, 93).

"However," writes Steve Mann, "my new-found "acceptance" in society comes, I suspect, at the hefty price that will we will end up paying. Today, "wearables" are all the rage. What is it that makes wearable technology suddenly so compelling? The proliferation of fashion shows depicting fanciful yet nonfunctional units suggest a purely aesthetic motive inspired by bogus pop culture portrayals of cyborg technology as disconnected from everyday life (the cyborg age is always coming, never here). Which is to say that cyborgs and their true implications for everyday life are being kept sagely in the realm of entertainment and fantasy" (Mann, Cyborg, 94).

History as Future

"Pictures of my old rigs from the 1970's and early 1980's turn up on the covers of various magazines predicting the future of computing", says Steve Mann. "CEOs and presidents of companies often use these ancient images to bolster talks about what technology in the new millennium will bring. In the month pr two following a Fall 1997 exhibition at MIT's List Visual Arts Center depicting the past twenty years of my wearable computer inventions, there arose a surge of outlandish looking cyber-fashions: models with strange things sticking out of their heads. The rhetoric always going something like "The year is 2030..." with a brief description of what we will be wearing in the future. Cyborg technologies retain their futuristic false promise regardless of present-day truths that tell a very different story" (Mann, Cyborg, 94).

LED Teeth Lights


"The new fashion accessories were originally created as an experiment by two Japanese designers and are now being used in a commercial advertising a winter sale at a Japanese clothing store, Laforet Harajuku. They are quickly becoming a sought after accessory. Instead of gold, however, these “fronts” contain bright multicolored glowing LED lights" New Japanese Fashion: LED Lights for Your Teeth By Nick Bilton January 21, 2011, 7:44 AM. One commenter on the New York Times story pointed out that "One hundred fifty years ago, these LEDs would have made someone a god or a devil, depending on the color. Now they are just a toy."[1]


  1. New Japanese Fashion: LED Lights for Your Teeth, January 2011, comment by "Michael"