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frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (A stylized green dragon person reading a)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Some highlights of what I posted to the Otherkin News Twitter (@otherkinnews) during the last few months.

About otherkin

Vice magazine ran an article about otherkin.

Journal of Language Works published an article on nounself pronouns. Cites the Nonbinary.org wiki and mentions otherkin.

Published in March, the book Youth Cultures in America briefly mentions otherkin.

A review of Danielle Kirby's book Fantasy and Belief, which writes about otherkin.

Due to the anti-transgender bathroom bills in the US during these months, newspapers ran anti-transgender opinion articles. As usual, some tried to undermine transgender people by comparing them to "trans-species." Some writers knew about otherkin, others didn’t. Cissexist hate speech isn’t worth featuring here.

Transhumanism

Cyborg artist Neil Harbisson said at a transhumanist event, "I consider myself a transspecies because I’m adding senses and organs that other species have."

Art and glamourbombs

You know the intro scene in FernGully, with the cave wall covered in handprints from humans and tiny fairies? It's based on some actual cave art, which does feature handprints just like that. The tinier prints weren't human hands. Not fairies, either, though.

The Merrylin Cryptid Museum featured preserved remains of dragons, fairies, and other beings, all created by artist Alex CF. Since it's a hoax-like exhibit, Snopes explained it.

Snopes also had to address a viral photo of baby dragons being reintroduced to Wales, which originated as a Photoshop contest winner.
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
(I'm going to change to a more brief format for this blog. Instead of writing whole research essays on a daily basis, I'll just post links to the news articles in question, as covered on other sites, unless if writing an essay is absolutely necessary.)

The first person in the world to become a government-recognized cyborg.
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Content warnings: None.

October: Mistwolf wrote an article in Spanish called "La Mano Transhumana." Mistwolf also translated the article into English as "The Transhuman Hand." The article "is a proposal for cooperation among different communities involved in an identity search, the Otherkin, Therian, and the Real Vampire community." Mistwolf uses the word "transhuman" to include all of those peoples. The article offers guidelines for how the communities can cooperate in constructive ways.

Source


Mistwolf, "La Mano Transhumana (The Transhuman Hand)." Noctalium. 2013-10. https://noctalium.wordpress.com/textos-comunitarios/la-mano-transhumana-1-0/
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Content warnings: None.

October: An article by Scriptonite Daily, "Cyborgs are now a reality," summarized a wide variety of kinds of recent advances in using messages from a person's brain and nerves to control prostheses and other devices. The article also lists some body modifications that give humans enhanced or new senses, such as magnetism, sonar, and ultrasonic sound. Many of these were invented by independent do-it-yourself "biohackers," who are either finding better segues around their own disabilities, or who are curiously exploring trans-human potential.
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Content warnings: Gross stuff. Medical. Anatomy. Implants. Injuries. Experiments on animals. Cancer. Some of the linked articles have photos of some artificial organs.

August: Tissue engineers are developing 3-D printing methods for creating body parts that can be implanted in living people. These body parts can be designed to be a perfect fit for the patient, so their body is less likely to reject the implant. The bio-engineers are already experimenting with making:

- Bones. Based on ceramic powder, bones that are custom-made to fit could replace bones that are too heavily damaged to repair.
- Blood vessels. Necessary for creating other organs. Nobody has made artificial organs with blood vessels in them yet, because it’s so complicated in there.
- Ears. Made of a cartilage gel, molded to match a 3D scan of the patient’s other ear. Cartilage is difficult with traditional tissue engineering, but with 3D printing, it’s easy, especially because cartilage doesn’t have blood vessels in it.
- Skin grafts. Creating skin from scratch, and printing it directly onto a wound. (Traditionally, you’d have to take a skin graft from somewhere else on the patient’s body, so fixing one wound means making another one.)
- Kidneys. Made of a cell culture from the patient, placed in a biodegradable scaffold. Engineers have successfully made a tiny, live kidney, but not yet a working kidney that could be implanted.

Although engineers are still working on the basics, someday lab-grown tissues could go beyond replacing a body part. Artificial body parts could be designed to do things that the original body parts couldn’t. Not only could we make a bionic ear from 3-D printed cartilage, engineers propose that they could also add to it a super-human hearing ability, or even a “sixth sense” to detect radio and electromagnetism. On the more practical side of survival, neurologists wouldn’t have to open up a brain cancer patient’s skull extra times if they replace a piece of the skull with a transparent window made of a material based on dental ceramic. Such a transparent skull implant has already been tested in animals. Through that window, neurologists could do laser treatments, and have an easier time scanning and monitoring the brain's healing process.


Sources


Steven Leckart, “Five body parts scientists can 3-D print.” 2013-08-16. Popular Science (online magazine). http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/5-body-parts-scientists-can-3-d-print

Susan Young, “Cyborg parts: Princeton researchers, using a 3-D printer, have built a bionic ear with integrated electronics.” 2013-08-12. MIT Technology Review (online news). http://www.technologyreview.com/demo/517991/cyborg-parts/ (Actually, the article sounds more like the lab team proposed that they could build such an ear, not that they have actually made one. I’m not sure.)

Honor Whiteman, “Transparent skull implant provides ‘window to the brain.’” 2013-09-04. Medical News Today (online news). http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265634.php
[identity profile] jarandhel.livejournal.com
There’s a new art exhibit entitled otherkin at the Julius Cæsar Gallery in Chicago, from September 8-29th.  It’s an 11 minute video that is apparently about us:

Chris Naka The artist debuts an eleven-minute video, titled “Otherkin,” about post-, neo- and non-humans (or, rather, humans that self-identify as such). Otherkin communities are largely formed online, although the concept of the hybrid human being is also relevant to queer and trans identities. Naka locates the greatest and strangest expression of otherkin in virtual spaces, especially ones experienced through a screen. “These days everyone is obsessed with death,” says one of the video’s characters, and the mood permeates the artwork. Opening reception: Sunday, September 8, 2pm-5pm. Julius Caesar, 3311 West Carroll.

That’s all the info I have, I don’t know what the video entails beyond that description or if it’s in any way an accurate depiction of us or our communities.

frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud


Trigger warnings: Amputees and prostheses. Some linked articles contain the kind of ableism common in reporting on these subjects.

July: A group of students designed an amphibious prosthetic leg. Shown in the video above, it’s called the Murr-ma, and it makes it possible to swim very fast. This prosthetic has a bird-like foot for running on soft sand at a beach. It has fins on its calf area, instead of on its foot. Its fins are inspired by those of the sailfish. It has advantages over the usual kind of swim fins, which make it hard to walk on land.

Compare the prosthetic mermaid tail of Nadya Vessey. In 2009, Vessey, a swimmer who did not have legs, asked the special effects studio Weta Workshop to design it for her. Unlike costume mermaid tails, this one has the advantage of having only a supple spine down its length, so it moves more like a real dolphin tail. It’s a great example of how prosthetic limb design doesn’t have to resemble human limbs.

I could have sworn that I posted on Otherkin News about the mermaid tail of Nadya Vessey a few years ago. I remember researching the article, but it’s not in my blog archives, so I must have failed to post it. I thought that I also posted about the industrial design student Kaylene Kau’s prosthetic tentacle arm in 2010, but I can’t find that in the archives, either. (By the way, all three of these prostheses were unique prototypes that aren’t sold commercially. Years later, Vessey’s mermaid tail is still the only one of its kind.) Maybe I had doubts about these articles’ relevance to otherkin, trans-human, and trans-species topics. In the future, I think I'd rather err on the side of including such things.


Sources


Thomas Essl, “Murr-ma, the amphibious prosthetic.” http://youtu.be/Q-yFS9qrDd0 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-yFS9qrDd0

Victoria Woollaston, “The AMPHIBIOUS prosthetic limb inspired by the world's fastest fish that enables humans to swim at 'superhuman' speeds.” 2013-08-09. Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2387961/The-AMPHIBIOUS-prosthetic-limb-inspired-worlds-fastest-fish-enables-humans-swim-superhuman-speeds.html

“Close up: A mermaid’s tail.” 2009-02-26. TVNewZealand. http://youtu.be/cDajDkWGW4c or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDajDkWGW4c

Kaylene Kau, “Prosthetic arm.” 2010-10-23. Coroflot. http://www.coroflot.com/kaylenek/PROSTHETIC-ARM?school_name=University+of+Washington,+College+of+Built+Environments&
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Warnings: Profanity. Linked article includes references to drugs and sex.

Kotaku Australia, a news blog focused on games and gaming culture, today posted an article (Hernandez, “My weekend at a furry convention”) describing a visit to a Furcon 2013, a convention of the furry fandom held in San Jose. Journalist Patricia Hernandez doesn’t say that there were any otherkin there, but she talks about otherkin for a few paragraphs anyway. Excerpt:

“We [the journalist and her friend Daphny] start talking all about furries on the way to San Jose, eventually landing on the subject of otherkin — this smaller sect of the furry fandom that believe that their bodies do not match who/what they actually are, and ‘who they actually are’ tends to be a mythical creature. They might say that they’re actually a dragon, as an example.

“When people make fun of Tumblr denizens, otherkin are often brought up as this ridiculous group of people that encompass the worst Tumblr has to offer — social justice (they believe in ‘human privilege’ and that the otherkin are highly oppressed), people pretending to be stuff they’re not (close ties with role playing and fanfiction in this sense, also denigrated), and teenagers that are likely highly confused about their identity all in one package.

“Daphny is not a fan.

“‘Tumblr is a bunch of confused teenagers and we like to pretend we don’t all know what that’s like or as if we haven’t been through that ourselves,’ she [Daphny] said, ‘but the thing about otherkin is that they they [sic] appropriate trans narrative. They claim to have dysphoria, and that their bodies don’t match with who they think they are, but the stuff they think they are — dragons, mythical creatures, and so on — don’t even exist.’

“This sounds wild to me, but if I know little about furries, I know even less about otherkin.”


Some of the information given here about otherkin is inaccurate. For example, otherkin are not a sub-group of the furry fandom. Historically, the communities had separate origins than one another. If the otherkin community originated in a fandom, then it arguably would have been that for The Lord of the Rings, judging by adoption of concepts from J. R. R. Tolkien in the writings of elven groups during the 1970s.

On the other hand, it is true that the part of the otherkin community active on the blogging site Tumblr.com use the language of Tumblr’s version of social justice. Some of them controversially frame their identity concepts in terms that are similar to that of the transgender community. Still, this generalization doesn’t apply to all otherkin, even of those who are on Tumblr.

Later, at the convention, illustrator Egypt Urnash talks to Hernandez about transgender people in the furry fandom. The topic of otherkin comes up again in connection with that idea.

“‘Furry is a safe space to experiment,’ she [Urnash] recalled, ‘You will see MTF [people who are male to female transgender], and they don’t “pass” in real life but their (furry) friends don’t give a fuck.’

“‘Who is to say we won’t have a future with malleable bodies?’

“Not looking like who you really are is a familiar experience for those in the fandom, after all. Inevitably we begin talking about otherkin here, and unlike Daphny, Egypt feels sympathetic.

“‘We [trans folk] are the lucky ones, we can find ways to fix ourselves. 100 years ago a man or a woman couldn’t do much about wanting to be something else. What about in the future, a transhuman future? Who is to say we won’t have a future with malleable bodies?’

“What if, in other words, the otherkin would be able to rectify their dysphoria? Wings and other such fantastical body parts aren’t possible…now. Will we look back on otherkin and think differently of them in the future if/when malleable bodies are possible?”


Urnash says that just as transgender people are now able to transition, future technologies might offer options for people who want to become physically other than human. Again comparing otherkin to transgender people, Hernandez considers that there may be more to it than the appropriation earlier described by her friend.

Other than this, the Kotaku journalist visited a fursuit parade and some parties. She also questioned stereotypes about the furry fandom as perpetuated in the gaming community, examining demographic data about the fandom.


Source

Patricia Hernandez. “My weekend at a furry convention.” Kotaku Australia. 2013-01-25. http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/01/my-weekend-at-a-furry-convention
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Summary: News from 2012 regarding topics of interest to otherkin and therianthropes (therians), including: a new study on clinical lycanthropy, an anthology of non-supernatural otherkin and therian romantic fiction, a survey of therians and furries, a Tarot deck for people who were extraterrestrials in past lives, a therian-inspired art exhibit, advances in the technology of wearable animal ears, other transhuman innovations, and the death of Stalking Cat.

Trigger warnings: mental illness, death.

2012-01. A new academic article about clinical lycanthropy was published in The Journal of Psychiatric Practice, focusing on the case study of Ms. A., 47, who believed herself to be a snake.1 The syndrome of lycanthropy recognized in psychiatry has some traits in common with spiritual therianthropy as discussed in the therianthrope community, in that the subject believes himself or herself to be or become an animal. The syndrome itself isn’t a mental illness, and doesn’t consistently correlate with any specific mental illnesses. Clinical lycanthropy is distinguished by delusions of physical transformation, and presence of other mental illnesses; all but one case of clinical lycanthropy have quickly responded to treatment. People in the therianthrope community, on the other hand, generally don’t believe they physically transform. The new article itself is behind a pay-wall. You can get the gist of the article through an irreverent informal commentary on it in the Neurotic Physiology blog.2

2012-09. Good Mourning Publishing is working on assembling an anthology of short romantic fiction titled Shifting Hearts, "in which at least one of the love interests is Otherkin/Therian. Any identification of otherkin or therian is accepted. No vampires, p-shifting, or paranormal themes; strictly real world depictions. […] The submission deadline is December 31, 2012."3 To my knowledge, this is the first book of its kind. Personally, I’ve heard rumors that a member of the therianthrope community is writing the preface for it; is there a public post by the person in question to confirm this rumor?

2012-09-05. A multidisciplinary team of scientists (sociologists, anthropologists, and social psychologists) called the Anthropomorphic Research Project (ARP) released results for its surveys of furries, bronies (fans of My Little Pony), and therianthropes.4

2012-09-05. An interview with Patricia Cori, co-author (with Alysa Bartha) of the Sirian Starseed Tarot. In the interview, Cori said she intended the oracle deck as a tool for “starseed awakening,” to assist the “the starseed [extraterrestrial] beings currently incarnated [in human bodies] on the planet, here to assist in the great transition that we all are beginning to recognize is well underway. […] In the generations of children since the 60’s, I believe, many very special souls are coming into the life experience highly conscious, with many gifts. They are starseeds from other planets and systems that are quite possibly more evolved than ours.”5 The starseed community has been active for several decades, but their community remains separate from the otherkin and therianthrope communities.

2012-09-11. Valerie Daval’s art exhibition of paintings inspired by therianthropes, featuring animal-themed reinterpretations of classic paintings. “Therians believe that while they have a human body, some important part of their mind, identity or spirit is that of an animal. […] Therians Dream is a series of portraits about metamorphosis between human and animal form.”6 Caution: the linked page includes artistic nudity.

2012-10. Following the release of Necomimi, the wearable cat-like biofeedback ears by Neurowear, an independent business emerged, called Emoki, offering diverse modifications built upon that hardware. Emoki offers the Necomimi headset, plus their own variety of interchangeable animal ears: bunny, bear, and fox, with more to come soon.7

2012-10. Transhuman week on Wired magazine, featuring the latest experiments and predictions about high-tech enhancement of the human body and mind. Trigger warnings: surgery, physical injuries particularly to eyes and extremities, vivid descriptions and photos thereof.

2012-11-05. Stalking Cat, 54, died. Famous for modifying his body to resemble a tiger, which he called his totem animal, Stalking Cat was active in the furry community,8 but I haven’t found evidence that he was active in the otherkin or therianthrope communities.


- O. Scribner

Sources )
frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (Stylized green dragon person)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Content warnings for this article: blood.

Last February in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a performance artist named Marion Laval-Jeantet of the Art Orienté Objet collective recently did a piece called Que le cheval vive en moi! (Fr. May the Horse Live in Me!) in which she explored a method by which she may transform herself into a centaur or horse.1 She spent time with a live horse. Then, in a Swiss laboratory, she had herself carefully injected with small doses horse blood, specificially “the plasma and a large part of the immunoglobulins,” safely isolated according to advice from the Pasteur Institute.2 Then she walked in digitigrade hoof stilts,3 which resemble the leg extensions designed by Kim Graham a few years ago.4 (I don’t know if they are or not. I haven’t seen anything that tells.) Laval-Jeantet described how the transformation made her feel:

“So, after I tested my body with the neuroendocrine immunoglobulins it was practically impossible for me to sleep for a week and I had extreme and slightly aggressive reactions to stimuli; a slammed door, a tap on the shoulder. As such, I was experiencing the hyper-reactivity of the horse in my flesh. The main aim of the performance to come is to take in a large number of immunoglobulins all together, so that I can feel another way of living rather than just the human. If one goes back to the terminology of the posthuman, to be human outside of the human is, perhaps, to undergo this type of experience, where a man that becomes a human/animal hybrid is finally extra-human. … Perhaps its symbolic and empiric force will enable my (our?) consciousness to open up to an Other sufficiently "other" - to no longer be purely anthropocentric.”5


Laval-Jeantet says that her original plan for this project was to have herself injected with panda blood, so that an endangered animal would be able to live on within her even if the actual pandas went extinct. However, even after several years, she couldn’t find anyone willing to do this for her, so she settled for horse instead.6 Much of Laval-Jeantet’s artwork explores ways to transgress the boundaries between humans and animals, and some of her works were performed primarily for an animal audience, to see how the animals react.

Laval-Jeantet performed a similar piece in 2007, Félinanthropie, in which she wore an innovative cat costume, crouched on all fours, and spent time with a house-cat. Her cat costume included digitigrade leg extensions, an articulated tail, and no other costume elements (no mask). She wanted to not only explore the perceptions of a cat, but also to alter the perceptions of an actual cat as it relearned how to interact with her. She wrote of this piece,

“That’s when the idea occurred to me to become digitigrade. A kind of fantasy where I would be able to jump onto the table in a single leap with paws that were too long... I drew the ‘cat shoes,’ which a prosthetist then made. As soon as I put them on and got used to this strange way of walking, the cats came up to me, sniffed and jumped on me, playing with me in the same way as they played between themselves. The artistic object worked, it had moved my role in the feline, domestic hierarchy.”7


However, I notice that since Laval-Jeantet wears no extensions on her forelegs, her costume increases the difference in length between her arms and legs, making it more difficult to walk on all fours.

Laval-Jeantet has written an article titled “Self-animalité (Self-animality)” about the philosophy behind the transformations in her art, such as posthumanism and shamanism. She describes several of her other pieces, and offers anecdotes about the stories of Mazzeras (shamans who channel the spirits of dead animals to rescue them) who she heard about from her Corsican grandmother. Her article includes photos of some of her pieces, including the cat costume and a close-up on the horse leg extensions. Read it in French or in English.

Sources )

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