"Animating Absence: The Motion Capture of the Phantom Limb"
This essay addresses (1) the ways in which recording and animation systems have informed the popular imagination of the technologically enabled body through the trope of the amputee veteran as a heroic overcomer and (2) the ways in which war trauma and recovery, as embodied by limb loss and prostheses, align with such imaging technologies.To delimit the historical intersections of scientific imaging and the amputee veteran, it presents three wartime eras and their corresponding media: first, the American Civil War, the photographic image, and the mimetic prosthesis (crafted for appearance) through the studies of Silas Weir Mitchell and Oliver Wendell Holmes; second, World War I, the cinematographic motion study, and the mechanical prosthesis (crafted for function) through the long-exposure photograph, or chronocyclegraph, of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth; and finally, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and digital motion-capture analysis and therapy, particularly as it is implemented through the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) system. Together, this far-reaching span illustrates the ways in which processes of imaging and animation of the human body are also instrumental in representations of ingenuity and efficiency that ultimately disavow, and in a sense render invisible, the traumas of war embodied by amputee veterans.
A Conversation with Jennifer A. González
This is an interview conducted for Octopus: A Visual Studies Journal with Jennifer A., author of Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art (The MIT Press, 2008).
A Conversation with Liz Kotz
This is an interview conducted for Octopus: A Visual Studies Journal with Liz Kotz, author of Words to Be Looked At: Language in 1960s Art (The MIT Press, 2007).