Revolutionary Prosthetics and the Cyborg, is sci fi driving medical innovation?

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. – Richard Feynman


I visited ‘Materializing the digital’ for a Media Arts subject excursion last year and came across a company called UNYQ. (see below for the blog post on UNYQ)

” UNYQ’s ‘Catwalk, Rivet and Vittra from stigma to style: 3D printed prosthetic covers.’ as seen in ‘Materialising the Digital’ at The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, produces dramatic medical aesthetic innovations through various digital processes. These fairings are not only state-of-the-art, practical and unique designs, but the material manifestations serve a very aesthetic and ethical purpose too.” 

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 8.40.28 pm.png
UNYQ, 2016

After navigating through the stack and Chris’ comment in class about entertainment, TV and media being the driving forces to innovation I wondered whether this innovation went as far as medical research.

I wanted to see if the convergence in technological advancements stemmed from wild creative thoughts in pop culture media and entertainment.

Firstly I will create an annotated bibliography to support the key themes I find in pop culture and science fiction. This will help me navigate the many avenues involved in this topic. I will draw out the key themes that interest me and over the next week start to create layers of my artefact through research, experimentation and iterative processes.

I pose this question:

Revolutionary Prosthetics and the Cyborg, is sci-fi driving medical innovation?


Marvel – Iron Man

Early last year, Limbitless Solutions successfully developed and modelled a 3D printed prosthetic arm on a fighting suit that features in the popular superhero film series, Iron Man (2008-2013). To showcase their innovative product, Limbitless Solutions acquired the support of the software company, Microsoft, and teamed up with the fictional character and inventor of the Iron Man suit, weapons specialist and philanthropist, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. The result was the production and dissemination of the aforementioned celebrity/superhero endorsed film, showing ‘Tony’, the ‘real Iron Man’, gifting the futuristic military styled ‘gauntlet’ to Alex Pring, a 7-year-old boy with a partially developed right arm.( Smith 2016 pp.259)

This article was a good starting point for me to start drawing connections between pop culture, science fiction and companies that are creating prosthetics and using celebrity endorsements and collaborations with influential people and fictional characters. The company Limbitles solutions paired with Microsoft to create a media infotainment film.

Although the article had a negative perspective on how the broken human body needs fixing by technology…
Smith states: “impaired and repaired by technology and as a consequence of his altered body must prove his humanness by demonstrating mastery and control over the technology that completes him overcoming the limitations of his impaired body.”( Smith 2016 pp.259).

“Science fiction plays the role of “actualisation”, the role of discursive negotiator, with the main goal being the emphasis on scientific advancement and technological progress as the keys to a realisation of the future.” (Smith 2006, 260)

further research and analysis needed*

Second article:

“One of the significant characteristics of the last decade, and the new millennium is the way in which advancements in biotechnology and medicine have come to the attention of the public, through the media, as one of the primary areas in which the future is being vigorously described and imagined. ” (Thacker 2001, pp.155)

I found this article interesting as it highlights how the development of the internet and the media keeps intersecting with medical research. This convergence and similarities between genetic code and computer code continue to develop alongside one another. The idea of normativity is questioned as science fiction breaks the rules and the internet propels these ideas into the minds of the public. There are cultural discussions forming, called ‘biopolitics’ and the progression of this new phenomenon.



side note * potential area of interest|
psychological conditioning that we need to be the fastest, the strongest. is this future that we are creating with a needed technological influence in order to be perfect. paralympians push the boundaries physically here.








Prezi: is a good foundation platform to combine all of the other mediums I want to use

Podcast: I want to conduct an interview with a friend who works in digital media and I feel this form will be the most transparent and informative for my research

Video: I want to experiment with 3D printing.. and feel that photos and video can document my experiment and processes best

Experiment: 3D printing

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 3.31.30 pm


Dyer, B., 2015. The Progression of Male 100 m Sprinting with a Lower-Limb Amputation 1976–2012. Sports, 3(1), pp.30–39. Available at:

Lucas, B 2016, “Technology matters in the Paralympics, but the athlete matters more.” viewed: 20th March 2016

Smith, S 2016, ”Limbitless Solutions’: The Prosthetic Arm, Iron Man and the Science Fiction of Technoscience’, [Medical Humanities], Medical Humanities, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 259-264.

Thacker, E 2001, “The Science Fiction of Technoscience: The politics of Simulation and challenge for New Media Art” Leonardo, Vol. 32 No. 2 pp. 155-158

UNYQ, 2016 viewed: 16th March 2018,


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