Known as the “Tailor of Ulm”, Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger (born 1770, died 1829) entered history with his attempt at flight in 1811. However, there is another accomplishment by the famous inventor that remains largely unknown. Berblinger developed mobile prostheses for invalid soldiers returning from the Napoleonic Wars, creating the foundation for modern leg prostheses. This success story of medical history is cause for Ulm Museum to celebrate the 250th birthday of Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger with a dedication to “complementing, imitating and improving human nature, the desirable body and the artificial human” as part of an exhibition of art, cultural and technological history. Named Transhuman – from Prosthetics to the Cyborg and running until 13 December, it will be an interdisciplinary show presenting historical prostheses and illustrations of their use as well as contemporary interpretations and visions for overcoming our physiological limitations. The exhibition is especially interesting for designers due to the particularly high relevance that design has in the medical domain as well as the questions that design asks about the changing religious and social significance of physical weakness and the future of the physical body, its rehabilitation and its optimisation. Flexible materials and high-performance microprocessors, actuators and brain–computer interfaces have revolutionised the relationship between humans and machines; robotics, prosthetics, artificial intelligence and neuro-enhancement have moved the boundaries of the conceivable and feasible. The contemporary positions that art takes on the topic can be seen in the works of artists including Kader Attia, Sophie de Oliveira Barata, Anna Blumenkranz, Renaud Jerez, Mari Katayama, Alexander Kluge, Erika Mondria, Aimee Mullins, Miguel Angel Rojas, Martha Rosler, Keisuke Shimakage, Igor Simić and Stelarc. The exhibition, conceived in cooperation with the Schwäbisch Gmünd design college, is accompanied by a publication and extensive programme of events.
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