Steven Mann (2001-03-16)

Steven Mann
Practice: New Media Artist – Performance, Sound, Video, Digital
Date of Lecture: 2001-03-16


University of Toronto Professor Steven Mann is described as the world’s only full-time cyborg. A graduate of MIT’s Media Lab, Mann has created numerous exhibitions that incorporate photographs and video work created using wearable imaging systems (Wearcam). Wearcam has been Mann’s passion for over twenty years, advancing from bulky helmets with attached video cameras to a sleek pair of dark sunglasses.

“People find me peculiar. They think it’s odd that I spend most of my waking hours wearing eight or nine Internet-connected computers sewn into my clothing and that I wear opaque wrap-around glasses day and night, inside and outdoors. They wonder why I sometimes seem detached and lost, but at other times I exhibit vast knowledge of their specialty. A physicist once said that he felt that I had the intelligence of a dozen experts in his discipline: a few minutes later, someone else said they thought I was mentally handicapped.” – Steven Mann

Mann_Steven_w01Wearcam, 1980 Prototype with 1.5 inch CRT © Steven Mann

Mann’s work is creating an international buzz, evidenced by the 30,000 hits a day his website occasionally receives, by creating cutting edge technology that both intrigues and horrifies. His ingenious advances in technology give us a hint of what the future may hold. But Steven Mann is not a creator without a conscience. He is aware of the implications that his new technology brings. However, his hopes are for Wearcam to liberate individuals and improve society, although, he acknowledges that once the technology is in the hands of the public, his control is minimal. He has explored some of the social justice uses of his technology in a project entitled Shooting Back, in which Mann turns his cameras on corporate surveillance cameras. Mann’s work has been exhibited at theOlga Korper Gallery and Gallery TPW in Toronto.