In the 1970s sci-fi television series The Six Million Dollar Man, the protagonist suffers a severe injury during a test flight and is subsequently rebuilt using bionic implants that give him superhuman abilities. Scientists took the opportunity to improve upon the human form. Which brings us to a modern day version called “Oscar.” Introduced in The Modular Body, a 56-video series narrating The Oscar Project, Oscar is described as a 3D printed modular body created by Floris Kaayk. The new creation looks like a butchered hen returned to life. Kaayk told The Creator’s Project, “I thought: Why would we print an organ in exactly the same shape as the one we already have? Why wouldn’t we use this opportunity to improve it?”
It remains to be seen if such a creation would be an improvement; for now we can’t really judge, since Oscar doesn’t really exist. Kaayk is a Dutch visual artist, not a bio-engineer. Oscar is the central figure of an online narrative (read “science fiction story”) that has already begun making the rounds on Youtube, Facebook, and other social media. And people are falling for it.
Pretty convincing science fiction, apparently. According to the story told via the videos, Oscar is conceived by scientist Cornelis Vlasman as an upgrade to the traditional human form — you can’t easily remove or rearrange the average guy’s limbs, for instance.
Kaayk said, “If we can print organs and body parts, why not completely redefine and redesign the human body?” He started thinking of the human body as a closed system, since it is comparatively difficult to repair and slow to adapt. “An open modular system could become immortal.”
Curious internet wanderers will discover the full Modular Body website, which features the complete series of videos. The site has a unique dystopian feel, as though you’re scanning through images in a simulation a la Lawnmower Man. The video clips are arranged by algorithm that uses assigned tags to suggest the next video to view based on the one before it, so visitors to the site won’t be overwhelmed by the mass of excerpts like the one shown below.
Talk shows examining Oscar’s consciousness, tests showing blood transfer between modules, and even a vlog comparing the human body to an Apple device and Oscar to a Lego set, are just a few of the manufactured videos in this multi-part examination of this scientific direction.
To reiterate, nothing like Oscar is actually possible yet. “If you start to read further, you’ll discover that this field of research is still in a very early stage,” Kaayk said. “It’s not possible yet to print functioning, vascularized organs … right now it’s science fiction.”
The modular body is an example of multimedia storytelling one-upping movies and television in their depth and originality. This goes beyond tired tropes involving zombies, aliens, or natural disasters. Way to go for creeping everyone out and perhaps making people think.