Sculpture as Artificial Life
Living systems are based on one kind of material: protein. I use another material: a conduit used for electricity in my country. He holds up a tube, yellow, about two feet long, and uses it as a dart gun.
Shows video called Artefauna: the artificial beast.
These are skeletal creatures who are propelled by the wind across the beach.
He "evolved" his creatures in the computer: The computer chose different lengths for the tubes that form the leg. Then it randomly changed it, kept the ones that moved the best, randomly changed, over and over for many generations. He came up with what he calls the 11 holy numbers.
Todd Kuiken and Jesse Sullivan
The World's First Bionic Arm
What a name for a presentation: Targeted Reinnervation for Improved Myoelectric Prosthesis Control
Kuiken does most of the talking:
Here we're changing a human to enable a technology, not the other way around.
Current state of the art in prostheses have motorized joints. It listens to the muscle, the contractions of the muscle, and uses it to signal a hand. This works only for below elbow.
Most people with shoulder amputations don't wear a prosthesis-you don't get enough value from it.
So listen to the nerves. We're using the nerves, and letting them grow into the spare muscle-the chest in this case. Your nerve signal contracts a chest muscle, then you read this muscle and let it operate a prostheses. This also allows for sensation feedback.
It's amazing looking at the chest-when Jesse thinks "open hand", for instance, one of the four specific chest muscles contracts, looking like someone raising their eyebrow.
"People ask me how they do it, and I don't know, I just do it." Says Jesse
Crazy thing is that his sensation nerves grew into his skin in his chest. So when you touch his chest, he feels his hand, or his wrist, or his finger. Now hook up a small plunger to his chest, and he can "feel" what he's touching-how hard or soft he's grabbing, hot and cold, sharp or dull. He's the first person that can feel using a prosthetic hand.
His new arm is an experimental amalgam of lots of different parts-hand from China, elbow from the lab, etc.
"I'm optimistic about the future. When Dr. Kuiken approached me about this, I didn't realize it was going to be such a big thing."
But the thing, in Dr. Kuiken's words, is primitive, held together with tape and chewing gum. What are they doing in the future? Do more nerve transfers, and create more control signals by splicing more nerves into more muscles. They want to trace out exact nerve patterns, allowing him to, say, use each finger individually. They're going to outfit him with an electrode array-150 instead of the current 6-and see if they can parse out the signals to give him that control.