{ prosthesis }


Prostheses are usually understood as the substituted missing or impaired limbs and organs, which allows the body to perform according to its pre-established –normal- functions. On such understanding, prostheses supply a very practical need: they restore the bodies given configuration, enabling the completion of movements and capacities that would otherwise be impaired.

Prosthesis origins from the Greek prostithenai, from pros ‘in addition’ + tithenai ‘to place’. The same etymology of the word suggests an addition, a summation which not necessary means incorporation towards completion or finalization of an existing body image with its associated and expected perform.

Considering the etymology sense the incorporation of a prosthesis to the body is something that goes beyond the substitution or replacement of missing or impaired organs, it can be also an addition of an external object that opens new bodily behaviours, qualities or abilities that may not have been possible before. This addition can have a transformative potential when it is understood in terms of the unexpected and the unplanned for the emergence of new properties and abilities.

In other words, prosthetic incorporation introduces new aesthetics and practical possibilities not yet presented, making space for that which cannot yet be imagined or lived, hence becoming a motor of a transformation of both, the object and the body.
From the descriptions above prostheses can be divide in two blocks of different kinds. One kind is a replacement and substitution of a missing limb that tries to mimic the body in shape, colour and function as example, prosthetic legs, glassed or hearing aid device. That kind of prosthesis acts in a deficient body offering change but without transforming its structures. The second type of prosthesis is an extension that doesn’t intend to mimic the body but to transform it and open new capacities that also operates on the meaning of the body for example: ear reamer or saucer lip plate used in indigenous community in different parts of the globe.

Architecture has been analysed as prosthesis for humans where the built structure becomes a protective extension of the body. However, the building can also be understood as a body, with its presence, functions and significance. Then, by adding prosthesis to the building, it might have either repair or transformative potential, able to transgress its established meanings and functions, craving new futures to come.


Fernanda Ruiz and Tatiana Letier Pinto