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Grinders
May 30, 2014 8:42 PM   Subscribe

Grinders: Tomorrow’s Cyberpunks are Here Today [NSFW]. "Installing magnets, microchips and sensors in their own bodies — this is how cyberpunk biohackers went from fiction to reality." [Previously, Via]
posted by homunculus (52 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
'90s nostalgia - It almost makes me want to track down paper copies of Mondo2000. Wasn't there a trepanning issue? I hade a roomate who was really into trepanation until I showed him a rare-earth magnet between the eyebrows did the trick. Biohackery! I'm a grinder guru, yo.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:49 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


It's all fun and games until someone gets an MRI.
posted by XMLicious at 9:02 PM on May 30 [19 favorites]


click



CLOSE WINDOW
posted by b1tr0t at 9:04 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


Oh, hey, I know a guy who has magnets in his fingers. He totally can sense electrical fields; it's cool.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:05 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Nothing terribly useful while risking infection aaand smooth trips to the MRI in the future. It seems the equivalent of a primitive shaman tattooing wings all over himself or something. Almost sort of neat looking, maybe, I guess, but kind of cringey, too.
posted by codswallop at 9:05 PM on May 30 [8 favorites]


Oh, hey, I know a guy who has magnets in his fingers. He totally can sense electrical fields; it's cool.

Barrel of laughs.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:23 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else read stuff like this and feel a weird twitch in their shins and maybe their finger joints like they are suddenly aware they are actually made of metal? This happens to me every time and it's kinda freaky.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:26 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I really want one of them magnet fingers but I want it done by someone who knows what they're doing and under anesthetic
posted by NoraReed at 10:01 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


What the hell is the point of doing something like this in an era of smartphones and wifi? How will a magnet in each appendage help you out in life?
posted by oceanjesse at 10:02 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


It's a retro authenticity thing. Cyberhipsters won't let the 90s fade away
posted by Bwithh at 10:39 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain slaphappy's comment please? Isn't trepanation drilling holes in your skull (to relieve pressure)?

I know I'm missing some science here...
posted by sio42 at 10:41 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


This would make opening my fridge so fucking complicated.
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


I dunno, reading about these people so ready to treat their bodies like the meatspace-avatars they are seems incredibly exciting to me. I've lived a sheltered life so far, and have not even the smallest tattoo, but I feel no qualms about altering my body in these kind of ways, especially as posthumanism becomes more and more feasible.
posted by malapropist at 10:51 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]


One word Stelarc.
posted by boilermonster at 11:01 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I wish I could read the goddamn article but it keeps JUMPING AROUND ON ME
die parallax, just die already

posted by dubitable at 11:29 PM on May 30 [14 favorites]


oceanjesse: "What the hell is the point of doing something like this in an era of smartphones and wifi? How will a magnet in each appendage help you out in life?"

Why does it need to be some efficiency 4-hour-work-week minimalist lifehack?

Adding another, almost entirely new, sense is amazing. I mean, I say this as someone who cried when Shannon Larratt died, in spite of not knowing him, but seriously? That's the only reason you can think to do something - 'how does this help me in life?'.

I did read a story from a nurse saying she could feel a change in a machine that then fitzed out, but apochryphal and non-replicated.
posted by geek anachronism at 11:34 PM on May 30 [7 favorites]


Can someone explain slaphappy's comment please? Isn't trepanation drilling holes in your skull (to relieve pressure)?

This sort of thing seems very 90's industrial culture in spirit. Check out some of the RE/Search publications about industrial/body-mod culture. It's as if the will was there, but the technology hadn't caught up.

As for trepanation, that 90's industrial culture also had a lot of nasty and disturbing specters hanging out in the margins. I remember going to a club in Seattle and seeing a video of an African tribe performing a ritual trepanation projected as the backdrop of a music set. Holy crap, I did not want to see that, and it would surely raise hackles nowadays about hipster cultural appropriation. On the other hand, I can see how, given the 90's mentality, trepanation could have been considered (and probably still is considered, by some people) the ultimate body mod.

This video does feel very 90's to me. But it also makes me feel like the 90's were just anticipating something right around the corner -- hopefully with less despair and angst and cultural appropriation, and more "fuck yeah, we've got magnets in our fingertips!"
posted by treepour at 12:18 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]


He never finished Doctor Sleepless did he? Fuck. I'm still upset about the great Warren Ellis computer crash that left so many comics threads dangling.
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:47 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


I can't read this right now because I'm moving house, and I also have a phobia about fingers that makes reading about the most common mod of this type difficult -- but count me among those who get excited about this stuff, even at the basic level.

Yeah, I discovered BMEzine and Warren Ellis at an impressionable age. :)

geek anachronism, I also cried when Shannon Larratt died.
posted by daisyk at 2:10 AM on May 31


I remember discovering RSS readers almost explicitly to keep up with Warren Ellis and then grinding.be so it could be said I've been after this idea for a while.

I also remember for a short while his blog would get little BMEzine-related posts about "Conan, what is best in life?" and the answer of "FIRE!" It was a link picture of a modified penis that doubled as a flamethrower.

This both amused and horrified me but I still went back to that image with a curiosity and a strange reverence for this guy that would go so far for whatever his reasons were. Watching that video at the top was something else. I have a weird fear related to anything happening to fingers, but the reason I found myself clenching my teeth was that it felt like watching someone commit an act with a very distinct cost, very clear cut and dangerous risks, venturing out into the frontier of human experience in the name of becoming something more.

At the same time, I feel the focus on tech and physical modification in regards to grinding has a bit of a freak-show nature to it.

Things I would qualify as grinding in different ways:
Magnet fingers
Northpaw to develop absolute direction
*racetams or other nootropics to adjust your brain just a little.
Even Soylent could qualify if its as reliable as they say.

I don't feel that grinding has to necessarily involve sticking things under our skin, it just needs to be about finding skillful means to try to achieve a better individual human potential through adding or removing.
posted by ThrowbackDave at 3:19 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


"Central to Doktor Sleepless are grinders — the term originating from video games" Cultural Appropriation is what Ellison is doing; which is fine because it is what people do.

Grinding itself, in videogames and IRL, was and is quite interesting for the fact that people WILL grind if the process can offer up an experience that satisfies a desire for progression. In general people will grind no matter how apparently virtual and ephemeral the rewards are because ... big subject but I think it's because we are human.

I found this article interesting above and beyond the cyberpunk aspect because the theme or thread I took from it was of TENSION. There are always tensions about how we grind and why we grind, who decides what the rewards are and who sets what we are progressing towards. It doesn't even matter that this article has a body modification focus because the tension is universal.

Is body modification a conservative form of self-expression to try and anchor the self as a body in the physical realm even as our personhood takes on more virtual aspects with and without our assent. Or is it reactionary. Or is it revolutionary. The answer is more or less, universal.
posted by vicx at 3:29 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


I believe that people should follow their bliss or whatever Oprah says.

Be kind.
Don't hurt others.
Something with rain and rainbows.

But still.

Those people are idiots.
posted by kinetic at 3:29 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


I imagine implanting magnets in your fingertips would risk cracking touch screens. I'm not so much critical of grinders (it's their art project, after all) as interested in different futures colliding. The image of the future laid down by Blade Runner And Neuromancer Has run its course (and that whorl jet pack/flying car thing is dead) -- we need a new future.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:04 AM on May 31


I saw Tim Cannon give a talk recently. Magnets are only the beginning. The process they went through to design, build, test and implant a computer under his skin was fascinating. Future plans to build embeddable computers for purchase at your friendly body modification artist are ambitious but inevitable. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the long term.

He also raised important questions over ownership and control of computers that are literally part of you. Who owns your cochlear implant? Who decided what frequencies you sense?

In 50 years I'll be an old fart not wanting an embedded networked computer for entertainment or convenience (maybe to keep my heart beating). Wearables are good enough.
posted by samhyland at 4:32 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Who decided what frequencies you sense?

The frequencies that cochlear implants are tuned to, are chosen and set by the patient, with a trained audiologist. Relevant factors that determine the frequencies chosen by the patient and the audiologist include a) the (remaining, in the case of neurological defecit or damage) sensory capabilities of the intact cochlea and upstream structures; and b) the frequency content of the real world around you.
It's not a big-brother or corporate conspiracy. It's not a deep or a societally important question, and neither is his former question.
posted by Dashy at 5:48 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


Body dysmorphia is the internet's favorite disease.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 6:17 AM on May 31


I can be a code cowboy punching deck through cyberspace without this, thank you very much.
posted by dr_dank at 6:34 AM on May 31 [8 favorites]


I thought the same as Slap*Happy - there's something about the casual decision to ignore reality/societal norms and start cutting holes in yourself that makes me think about trepanation.

"A genius is one to whom the knowledge of the difference between yes and no is innate." -- Bart Hughes, trepanation guru.

The story of his friend Joey Mellen and how he trepanned himself is fascinating and very odd, because Mellen exudes this happy-go-lucky charm the whole time he's describing how he came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to take a bunch of acid and drill a hole in his head. Here's an article with a nice quote from him.
posted by sneebler at 6:46 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Seeing 'trepanation' immediately reminded me of the late, great Crank zine edited by Jeff Koyen in the 90s. I can't find copies online, but I did find the hilarious 'how-to' illustrations elsewhere.
posted by crank at 8:48 AM on May 31


"I really want one of them magnet fingers but I want it done by someone who knows what they're doing and under anesthetic"

The anesthetic part is difficult as those tend to be controlled substances and this isn't considered to be surgery.
posted by I-baLL at 8:51 AM on May 31


"I really want one of them magnet fingers but I want it done by someone who knows what they're doing and under anesthetic"

I lost a nail many years ago thanks to P.E. class and taking the rest of the nail out required three injections in three different parts to anesthetize my finger. I distinctly remember thinking that it would have hurt less if they had just forgo the injections.

So, maybe it's not worth it to fully anesthetize a finger for that kind of thing.
posted by Memo at 9:10 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


"The image of the future laid down by Blade Runner And Neuromancer Has run its course (and that whorl jet pack/flying car thing is dead) -- we need a new future."

Really? To me it seems like, in some ways, it's becoming modern life.
posted by I-baLL at 9:10 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's just my copy of Safari trying to keep stupid things from my sight, but that webpage is nonfunctional. Someone take that designer's hands off the keyboard please.
posted by waxbanks at 10:16 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I also remember for a short while his blog would get little BMEzine-related posts about "Conan, what is best in life?" and the answer of "FIRE!" It was a link picture of a modified penis that doubled as a flamethrower.

Wait, what?
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:21 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Cyberpunk is so out of fashion, b but that's no reason to give up on body mods. We can do the same thing for steampunk!

That's right! I'm having GEARS implanted in my hands, and GOGGLES permanently sewed over my eyes! The retro-future of body modification is here!
posted by happyroach at 1:59 PM on May 31


This post made me all cranky until I remembered James Murphy's right-on maxim, "The best way to complain is to make things," and went straight to the notebook where I'm keeping all my notes for my semi-written sci-fi novel in which the big step forward in the future wasn't more gadgety gimcrackery, but a major advance in our culture, rather than the tiresome advance of the bespoke toys of magical thinking. It's bad enough we can't get away from all this machinery as it is—let's sew it in so we can twitch like vivisected monkeys every time a new FIOS ad appears in our email inbox!

Of course, it also gave me a nice flashback to Patrick Farley.
posted by sonascope at 2:41 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


Not that it matters so much nowadays, but they will never be able to handle a magnetic disk or cassette or video tape. It can destroy archival digital and audio records. And backup tapes - we still use those!
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 3:03 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I also remember for a short while his blog would get little BMEzine-related posts about "Conan, what is best in life?" and the answer of "FIRE!" It was a link picture of a modified penis that doubled as a flamethrower.

By Crom!
posted by homunculus at 3:12 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I guess this is off putting for me in part because the magnets seem painful to put in, and I wouldn't want a high powered electromagnet to rip them back out again. Bad day at the junkyard, nah mean?
posted by oceanjesse at 3:28 PM on May 31


Well... Ask and ye shall receive.

For the record: The following link is a picture of a penis that is shooting fire.

NOT SAFE FOR WORK OR ANYTHING EVER.
Conan! What is best in life?
FIRE

The rest of the "Conan! What is best in life?" series can be found here AND VERY NSFW and maybe NLS and is not for the faint of heart, but if you can get past the icky most of it's a pretty good laugh. "Love AND War" for example depicts a couple guys with heavily modified genitalia in a game of... tug of war. There's a lot of dongs and genitals because for some reason that's the thing. As I said, there's a strange freakshow mentality with regards to bodymods so besides the focus on gory pictures there's always some sex mixed in.
posted by ThrowbackDave at 3:32 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


K so serious questions:

How the hell do these finger magnet people use any electronic device without causing serious problems?

Do they get giant tattoos saying "DO NOT MRI ME" in case they're brought to the hospital unconscious?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:49 PM on May 31


There are lots of people who would be at risk in an MRI if they get brought unconscious to the hospital. People with shrapnel from old war wounds. People who work with sheet metal and might have gotten some in their eyes. People with various medically-sanctioned implanted devices. Every time I've had an MRI or sent someone to an MRI (I'm a nurse), we have to go through a giant checklist to rule out the chance of metal in the body. If there's any question of safety, x-rays are done first to make sure. I don't think they would do an MRI if they couldn't get a good history from the patient or a very well-informed family member. FWIW, if you show up unconscious in the emergency room, an MRI would only happen after a lot of other workup, if at all. CT scans are better for detecting most of the potential reasons for your unconsciousness, anyway.

All that said, if any body-modifiers are reading this, most hospital and clinic systems nowdays can put a flag in your electronic medical record for implanted devices. It would be good to let your doctor know you've got these things, not only so they don't send you to MRI but also so they know where to look first when you come down with sepsis. Ahem.
posted by vytae at 5:07 PM on May 31 [6 favorites]


How the hell do these finger magnet people use any electronic device without causing serious problems?

The one person I know who has them is an electrical engineer.

The only problem he's reported is accidentally putting his laptop to sleep, because MacBooks use a magnet for that.
posted by flaterik at 6:12 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Huh, I would have expected more problems, especially with cellphones and touchscreens.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:17 PM on May 31


what about the tracks on credit cards?
posted by p3on at 7:00 PM on May 31


I want to get magnets installed behind my eyes so I can wear different magnetized googly eyes every day. Then a little switch in my pocket so that when I'm in a meeting I can reverse the polarity of the magnet and my googly eyes go flying across the room as I bellow "Well, I never!"

I predict I will go through a lot of googly eyes this way, it's a good thing they are cheap. Probably magnets in my back, too, so I can lean against metal things effortlessly.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:00 PM on June 1 [7 favorites]


feckless: Why would magnets cause problems with cellphones and touchscreens?
posted by I-baLL at 6:20 AM on June 3


Magnets and microchips tend not to be the best of my friends, in my limited understanding of the subject.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:35 PM on June 3


Huh, I would have expected more problems, especially with cellphones and touchscreens.

Unless the state of the art has changed a lot, these are very small, very weak rare earth magnets covered in a bio-inert substance (which may also act as an insulator) and surrounded by flesh. The actual magnetic force they exert is tiny - enough to pick up a paperclip, maybe, but not to wipe a hard drive.

(Zoe Quinn has a finger magnet, but also a self-implanted programmable NFC chip in the meat by her thumb, which is a better idea if you want to affect a smartphone. At the moment, if you tap it on an NFC-enabled phone, it transfers a Steam code for Deus Ex. Which is pretty baller.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:30 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Zoe Quinn is a cyborg from the future and she is the coolest
posted by NoraReed at 11:22 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I jammed a frickin huge needle in my hand in order to shoot a microchip into it.
posted by homunculus at 12:48 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Oh good lord I am swooning like a victorian maiden.

I really want something like that, so I can unlock my house and my car with a wave. Yes, my visions of the future are inutterably prosaic, but still. That's what I'd do, if I were capable of both the piercing myself, and programming locks.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:52 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


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