Shocker: Artist's Implanted Head-Cam Causes Medical Problems

DiscoblogBy Patrick MorganFeb 10, 2011 12:04 AM


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Just as Beethoven suffered through hearing loss and Hemingway struggled with depression, an artist at New York University is also suffering for his art, but in a slightly different way: his body has rejected part of the camera that he implanted in his head. Back in November, Wafaa Bilal, an NYU photography professor, embarked on a novel art experiment: he went to a Los Angeles tattoo shop and had a titanium base inserted behind the skin on the back of his head. Three posts that extended from this insert were then attached to a camera that snapped pictures once a minute, viewable to everyone on his website. Nobody sticks a camera into his head without a reason--and Bilal had at least two, or maybe three. After the 1991 Gulf War the Iraqi artist became a refugee, and eventually immigrated to the United States. Being on the move so much made him want to keep a record of his past, and there's no better way to see where you've been than to have a camera snapping shots from the back of your head. His other reason has to do with living in the present, as The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

“Most of the time, we don’t live in the places we live in,” he said. “We don’t exist in the city we exist in. Perhaps physically we exist, but mentally we are somewhere else.” Yet another explanation: The project points to the future—a future where, as Mr. Bilal sees it, communication devices will become part of our bodies.

But his art project hit a road block recently when he started to experience pain and learned that his body was rejecting one of the metal posts. Antibiotics and steroids didn't help, so last Friday a section of his implant was surgically removed. But that won't deter Bilal from his art. From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“I’m determined to continue with it,” Mr. Bilal ... said on Monday.

And with that attitude, he has now tied the camera to his head, and has plans to secure a lighter camera once his head recovers from surgery, proving that nothing--not even his body--can keep him from practicing his art. Related Content: Discoblog: When Art Gets Personal: Woman with Skin Disorder Makes Her Body a Canvas Science Not Fiction: Dollhouse: Eyeball Cameras Science Not Fiction: Knight Rider: Teeny Tiny Cameras DISCOVER: The Rise of the Cyborgs

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