Resonance of Earth

by Olivia M. Langley

A look into the life of Moon Ribas, an avant-garde artist and cyborg activist who deepens her connection with nature by incorporating technology and dance. 

People around the globe are more interconnected than ever; a plethora of knowledge awaits curious minds, thanks to internet search engines one can view the beauty of the world in the comfort of a living room. Although convenient, technology is also inhibiting human’s ability to connect with the natural planet.

Moon Ribas, a 33-year-old avant-garde artist from Spain, is challenging the notion that technology is a divider for humans and nature. Ribas is a modern dancer and choreographer utilizing technology to further connect herself with nature rather than becoming separate from it. Her interest led her to inventing implants that are connected to seismograph readers, which track earthquakes happening around the world. The implants are inserted into her arms and vibrate in real time with earthquakes occurring in a specified location anywhere on Earth. Depending on the magnitude of the quakes the vibrations she feels range from weak to strong. The implants give Ribas what she calls her “seismic sense” and she uses the vibrations to choreograph dance pieces. Her philosophy is that technology brings humans closer to nature when done in a holistic manner.

This device led Ribas to becoming a self-identified cyborg, and she and her longtime friend and colleague, Neil Harbisson, co-founded the Cyborg Foundation in 2010. This foundation advocates for cyborg rights as well as encourages others to become cyborgs to find alternative ways to perceive the world.

Moon is utilizing cybernetics in a way that will offer her mind and body a new sense; the ability to feel the Earth resonate through her body. In an interview with Allison Wagner of Raconteur Agency back in 2013, Ribas further explained her cyborg philosophy, that humans do not have to be separate from the ‘machine’ and that it is “more unique and personal to embed it into yourself and create new perceptions.” Ribas promotes embracing technology in a manner that enhances the human experience rather than letting it become dull.

This holistic and integrated approach may be far from the norm, but Ribas is not one to conform and she hopes to help others who share her vision through the Cyborg Foundation. The foundation creates the distinction between technologies that allow you to learn and those that allow you to feel, and they aim to have their members invent their own ways to interpret and perceive the world.

While the creative technological endeavors of Ribas and the Cyborg Foundation are fascinating, they are not exactly realistic nor easily attainable.  An entire team of scientists, private donors, and private doctors were all necessary in achieving a part-bionic life, not to mention years of prototypes and trial and errors. But we can all challenge ourselves to become more aware of our bodies and our movement. Moon uses the vibrations to guide her body through dance to feel the Earth.

Donna Blatt-Ervin, owner and instructor for Modern Dance Technique in Corvallis, grew up dancing and using creative movement to connect with herself and the world around her. Blatt-Ervin shared the perspective of Alvin Ailey, a famous Modern dancer, explaining that he believed “that everyone should dance, everyone can dance, and everyone has something to say to dance”.  Everyone has the capacity to move and becoming more aware of the body, more attune to it, aids in the observation of oneself amongst the world.

Ribas does a performance called “Waiting for Earthquakes” where she gets on stage, with a large clock and a name of a chosen location on Earth. During the performance, she and the audience will wait for her to feel the inevitable vibrations that will trigger her to begin to dance. Her movement mirroring the intensity of the earthquake occurring at that moment. Blatt-Ervin noted the symbolism in that “what happens to the Earth, happens to her” and this element could be where the “elite cyborg artist” can shift to “activist” to convey a message about how humans are going about their lives, completely unaware of the massive changes occurring on the planet and perhaps within themselves.

Becoming a cyborg may not be for everyone, but Moon Ribas and her band of cyborgs are stirring conversations to reflect and connect. The world and those who inhabit it are ever evolving; minds, culture, creatures, land and all that lies in-between. Ribas chooses to embrace the advancement of technology by allowing herself to become part of it. She has found a way to feel her Earth every single day.

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