"A Machine Beauty"

[Content Note: Injury; illness.]

This is an interesting piece in the New York Times about advanced prosthetics and the cultural shift in attitudes about prosthetic limbs.

There's a lot of thought-provoking stuff there, often in what isn't explicitly discussed: The privilege of having access to these medical advances, for instance, and the casual mentions of family members who are "confused" and "unenthusiastic" about procedures that scale back limbs to open prosthetic options, reflecting larger cultural pressures that create tension for lots of people with disabilities between "looking normal" and functioning at maximum capacity.

I loved this:
While the loss of a limb remains a medical trauma, many amputees have come to embrace their bionic enhancements. Many "have little desire for the artificial limb to look human," said Hugh Herr, who heads the biomechatronics research group at the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is developing wearable robotic devices. "They want it to look interesting and have a machine beauty."
I understand absolutely why some people want their prosthetics to look "real," and I understand absolutely why some people want their prosthetics to have "a machine beauty." I love that there is increasingly space for both. It's cool that trailblazers (pun intended) like Oscar Pistorius have made a space in our visual culture where the beauty of prosthetic technology can be appreciated.

image of male runner Oscar Pistorius, who has two prosthetic legs, running a relay, carrying a baton
Oscar Pistorius runs with the relay baton during day 2 of the Yellow Pages South African Senior Championship at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on April 14, 2012 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. [Getty Images]

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