Laurie Ramsell is a Fine Artist and fellow at Birmingham Open Media. His research led practice is concerned with questioning the label ‘human’. By looking at trans- and post-human philosophies, it can be deduced that such a label as ‘human’ has become outdated, and that most ideas around the concept of what makes you uniquely human can be challenged or redefined in the near future.
Historically personhood has not been synonymous with being human – as seen with slaves, children, and women – whilst book, buildings and rivers have been conferred this legal status; your biology contains nine non-human cells for every native human one, a writhing cornucopia of human flora – bacteria, mites, and yeasts; and emotional capacities and sentience previously reserved for humans is increasingly being observed in studies of many other animals – happiness, fear, love all the product of inherited evolution.
What makes you human therefore is not what you may think, and more nuanced ideas will be required to understand what truly affords us our label of ‘human’. We have seen that such a label can be arbitrarily given (and taken). What may this label be extended to in the near future in the field of robotics and synthetic biology? How far can we change the existing idea of what a human is/looks like before it ceases to be by our own definitions? By working with new materials and processes (bacterial cellulose, 3D printing pens) my practice is examining how artisans may redesign our own humans anatomy, assembling it limb by limb, organ by organ collaboratively.