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The Dada Cyborg - Visions of the New Human in Weimar Berlin

The Dada Cyborg - Visions of the New Human in Weimar Berlin

By Matthew Biro

"Matthew Biro’s spirited account of the cyborg in the Berlin Dada movement reveals how artists imagined new forms of hybrid identity and challenged contemporaries to reflect on their own technologically-mediated lives. Engaging with politics, perception, embodiment, and the urban experience to define what it means to be human, Dada artists developed constellations of questions that remain central to artistic practices today. Brushing history against the grain, as Benjamin urged us to do, Matthew Biro combines formal analysis with critical theory to understand Weimar Germany’s profound cultural legacy." —Maria Tatar, Harvard University

"Impressively well-researched, The Dada Cyborg provides a series of insightful readings of various montage works and activities in order to reconstruct the Dada movement as one with which we—as citizens of a cyborgian age—should be deeply familiar." —Lutz Koepnick, author of Framing Attention: Windows on Modern German Culture

In an era when technology, biology, and culture are becoming ever more closely connected, The Dada Cyborg explains how the cyborg as we know it today actually developed between 1918 and 1933 when German artists gave visual form to their utopian hopes and fantasies in a fearful response to World War I.

In what could be termed a prehistory of the posthuman, Matthew Biro shows the ways in which new forms of human existence were imagined in Germany between the two world wars through depictions of cyborgs. Examining the work of Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Otto Dix, and Rudolf Schlichter, he reveals an innovative interpretation of the cyborg as a representative of hybrid identity, as well as a locus of new modes of awareness created by the impact of technology on human perception. Tracing the prevalence of cyborgs in German avant-garde art, Biro demonstrates how vision, hearing, touch, and embodiment were beginning to be reconceived during the Weimar Republic.

Biro’s unique and interdisciplinary analysis offers a substantially new account of the Berlin Dada movement, one that integrates the group’s poetic, theoretical, and performative practices with its famous visual strategies of photomontage, assemblage, and mixed-media painting to reveal radical images of a “new human.”

Paperback
336 pages; 50 black-and-white photos
7 x 10 inches
University of Minnesota Press, 2009
ISBN 9780816636204
Dada, Avant-Garde

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