Metabody: From Cyborg to Symborg

MERLIN and the dedicated Metabody site no longer operates but this site holds details on the original project collaboration.

The Metabody project was originally created by MERLIN* in early 1996 as a collaborative exploration and documentation of the interface between the human and machine, investigating issues of digital self-representation, -replication and -distribution in the new media and communications space.
In addition to a series of distributed telematic performance installation events in collaboration with Stelarc, the project created the 1997 CD ROM, Metabody: From Cyborg to Symborg, and a number of gallery installations.

Metabody CD ROM

The Metabody assemblage is an animated mapping of the territory of the human-machine interface on CD ROM: the avatar or golem, the robot or automaton (more recently cyborg) through the ages; and the body as a distributed performance installation site connected to other bodies and sites around the world.
The CD ROM also featured a series of commissioned papers by various writers and an archive of the work of Australian performance artist Stelarc. MERLIN collaborated with Stelarc on many performances, such as the Parasite performances in 1997
Metabody Skeletronic ChairMetabody was exhibited as an installation at ISEA97 in Chicago.

The installation comprised one PC running the CD ROM, with video projection of the images, and the Skeletronic Chair with muscle reader hardware connected to another PC with dedicated software that allowed bio-feedback (twitcher) control over onscreen figures.

Metabody was largely completed by MERLIN in 1997 and 1998 except for the PC version released June 1999.


MERLIN (the Media and Education Research Lab and Interactive Network) was an arts and technology group founded in 1995 and ceasing operations in 1999. During its brief four years MERLIN conducted projects in Sydney, and telematic events with various locations in the UK, Europe and the United States. The MERLIN project resulted in many collaborations between MERLIN and a wide range of artists, media producers and programmers. Many MERLIN projects were staging new technologies and concepts for the very first time.
In late 1995 MERLIN began collaborating with Stelarc to develop telematic performance events that allowed participation and distributed audience interaction locally and globally over the web. Some of this work together with archival material of Stelarc's past performances, is also documented on the CD ROM.

Original CD ROM Credits

produced by :: MERLIN
conception :: cook, de silva, zebington
production :: sam de silva
text, flow :: jeffrey j cook
graphics, vrml :: gary zebington
UNIX performance programming :: dmitri aronov
additional research :: gina fenton
sound :: ross johnston, rainer linz
cgi scripting :: adam freeman
pc port :: ariel (@ metaform)
many thanks to :: brad miller (@ cofa), michael hill (@ afc)
produced :: Sydney Australia 1997/1999