'Problematic transhumans' and 'unfinished' bodies: Understanding human beings as perfectly conditioned machines in and through Katja Heitmann’s Pandora’s DropBox.
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This thesis is an examination of philosophical ideas about ‘the posthuman’ that emerge in the project Pandora’s DropBox, a performance by Katja Heitmann. In Pandora’s DropBox, the performers execute a choreography directing distinct manners of moving the body that supports an understanding of the human being as a computer machine. This research clarifies aspects of the choreography that witness philosophical presumptions about how humans and machines function in a posthuman era. Furthermore, I propose in this research to also understand human beings as computer machines, in order to analyze the philosophical ideas that foregrounded this approach. The functionality of the computer machines executing the choreography as a software program resulted in the manifestation of unforeseen bodily responses in Pandora’s DropBox, such as excessively sweating, shaking muscles and tearing eyes. I explain how these ‘errors’ create space to reflect on the represented human beings as ‘problematic transhumans’, drawing on Curtis D. Carbonell, and, finally, as ‘unfinished’ bodies, drawing on a theory by Rosemary Klich on the manifestation of posthuman bodies in multimedia performances. Positioning the performance in transhuman philosophical discourse led to the findings that the intentions of Pandora’s DropBox bear witness of an ambiguity with regard to transhuman utopian perspectives, that the endeavor of the project is very much in conformance with the transhuman ambition to eliminate all suffering and that the outcomes of the project show a rather dystopian view on transhumanist philosophy. The represented human beings in Pandora’s DropBox are problematic transhumans, because their functioning results in unforeseen problems and they have become apathetic beings, which is a condition that does not conform with transhumanist philosophy. However, the represented human beings are also unfinished bodies, works in progress that are constantly redefined, learning and changing.