Borrowed limbs is an experimental short film produced with a custom designed production pipeline for generative Machine Learning to mediate speculative concepts of disembodied intelligence by Lisa-Marleen Mantel and Laura Wagner

In times of ubiquitous computing, artificial intelligence, and virtual humans, it seems like an obvious next step for techno-optimists to see their chance for immortality in technological advancements. These future narratives are almost exclusively based on cartesian notions of disembodied intelligence. Influenced by posthumanist theorists, such as Rosi Braidotti, Donna Haraway, and Katherine Hayles, transhumanist approaches that envision the human body enhanced and augmented with machine parts are not only questioned but appropriated and inverted with the use of speculative design.

The short film “Borrowed Limbs” aims to emphasize the mediating role speculative design has in the face of disruptive technological advancements, as it allows for the exploration and simulation of ethical issues and provokes discussion about current developments and how they will influence our future way of life. The theoretical work results in a short film created with a designerly appropriation of AI tools. The suggested production pipeline, developed in the process, uses a myriad of AI tools. The main part of the footage was produced with a novel machine-learning-backed process called “CLIP guided diffusion” that allows for image synthetization based on language prompts that are carefully refined in a human-machine loop of communication. In a way, the practical processes involved in making the film reflect on the speculative ideas conveyed in it: the protagonist is an AI that utilizes a human body to gain an embodied understanding of its environment, a result of consequent machine-human hybridization – a posthuman being.

The Short Film is part of the Master Thesis “Synthesizing Meaning – Designing a production pipeline for the artistic appropriation of generative Machine Learning to mediate speculative concepts” by Lisa Marleen Mantel und Laura Wagner


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Short Bio:

Lisa-Marleen Mantel (she/her) completed her Master’s degree (M.A. Integrated Design) at KISD – Cologne International School of Design (faculty of TH Köln). Previously, she studied Media Design (B.A.) at the DHBW Ravensburg. She works as an Art Director and multidisciplinary designer at the digital agency Demodern. In a current teaching assignment at KISD, she is working on the future curating role of designers in collaboration with Artificial Intelligence.

Laura Wagner (she/her) completed her master’s degree (M.A. Integrated Design) at KISD – Cologne International School of Design (faculty of TH Köln). Previously she studied Communication Design (B.A.) at the FH Aachen. Since the beginning of this year she has been working as a research assistant and interdisciplinary designer at KISD. Her research is directed at new modalities of human-machine interaction through AI technology.


Coming up soon:

Borrowed limbs – The Making of