Organum Paradoxum/Scalptomorpha: A Sculptural Parasite Plug-in to Hack the Human Anatomical System
Parasites and symbionts in art & science
Related works
Prosoma Crani
Actus Tick

Organum Paradoxum/Scalptomorpha: A Sculptural Parasite Plug-in to Hack the Human Anatomical System

Speckert, Marie Lynn1,
1 Tangible Music Lab, University of Art and Design, Linz, Austria


Scalptomorpha is a concept that interconnects with the human body, representing an object possessing its own organism that can seamlessly integrate into bodily structures. This objects harnesses and metabolism derived from internal body processes, akin to the functionality of a metabolism. My research revolves around the arrangement of anatomical structures, guided by diverse system theories of organisms and medical concepts. I am particularly interested in exploring the hierarchies and guidelines within the human body and how they may lead to the emergence of novel functions and arrangements within an imaginary organism. In my work, I delve into the examination and investigation of anatomical and organic concepts, exploring their development and functionality within the realm of the digital world. This research delves into the intricate relationship between the physical and the virtual, seeking to uncover new insights into the capabilities and possibilities that arise when anatomical and organic concepts interact with digital environments. Through this exploration, I aim to contribute to our understanding of the intricate complexities of the human body, it's hierarchies, and its potential for transformation in the context of transhumanism.


interface, system theories, anatomical structures, fictitious organism, symbiotic relationship, bio art, sound art, digestive system


Scalptomorpha is a component of an idea, which connects to the human body. An object with its own organism that fits into a structure, such as the human body. This object takes data from internal body rhythms, which it uses and returns: data processing akin to a digestive system.

My research deals with the arrangement of anatomical structures and is guided by various system theories of organisms and medical concepts. My focus is on hierarchies and guidelines of the body and a resulting new function and arrangement of a fictitious organism. I examine and research anatomical and organic concepts and their development and function in the digital world.

Digital anatomy refers to the study or representation of anatomical structures using digital technologies. It involves the use of computer-based tools, imaging techniques, and virtual simulations to visualize and analyze anatomical features. Digital anatomy enables the exploration and understanding of the human body in a virtual environment, offering interactive and immersive experiences for education, research, medical practice, and other related fields. It can encompass various aspects, such as 3D modeling, virtual dissection, anatomical atlases, and computer-aided visualization of anatomical structures. This has advantages in early diagnostics through machine calculation and orientation in a patient's body. Artificial intelligence and sensors are increasingly becoming important tools in medical research. The body is calculated and defined using the parameters.

Digital anatomy and medicine are related fields that both deal with the study of the human body. Computer-aided Medicine can provide a valuable tool for medical professionals, as it allows for detailed exploration of the body without the need for invasive procedures.

Mankind grows with technology and technology with mankind. This dependency is increasing and represents an indispensable medium for the future. This project is a conceptual artwork that explores the idea of creating a new organ for the human body.

Figure 01.Scalptomorpha 2022

Scalptomorphas are a description of a sculptural body that immediately finds a parasitic organism, place and form of its appearance in symbiosis with the specific representation dispositives of always other media that serve as host bodies.

What could be the relationship between the digital art tool and the human body?

What virtual anatomical understanding could be generated and derived?

Parasites and symbionts in art & science

Based on the observation of parasites, we can recognize interesting approaches to the body system and expand the term "parasite" in several directions and treat it metaphorically in my project.

Biologically parasites use the bodies of other living beings to feed themselves, to live in them, and in doing so, they go through interesting cycles in order to reproduce. They use the bloodstream, the lymphatic system or other pathways in the body to reach certain organs that serve their habitat. The change from one habitat to the other represents a challenge and chance. In addition, the parasite must be able to influence the host enough to keep itself alive. To do this, he must connect to the organ system.

A distinction must be made between the ectoparasite and the endoparasite. An endoparasite is a parasite that resides within the body of its host, such as internal worms or certain bacteria. In contrast, an ectoparasite is a parasite that lives on the external surface of its host, like ticks, lice, or fleas. (Piekarski,1954). Parasite relationships can vary. Some common types include parasitism, where one organism benefits at the expense of the host. Also, there are parasitic structures seen in other complex systems and variants, like in mushrooms, bacteria and viruses. In the field of cultural studies, one also finds parasitic patterns that have been extensively studied and have a profound impact on various aspects of human society. In cultural anthropology, parasites are studied as metaphorical representations of social dynamics, such as exploiting and benefiting individuals or groups at the expense of others. In media and literary studies, the parasite often plays a manipulative character, consuming resources or exercising control. In films, books, and other media, the parasite is often portrayed as a creature that reflects societal fears by wielding power and control over humanity.

A good example is provided by Michel Serres, a renowned philosopher, who saw parasites as pathogens that thrive on and depend on the exploitation of other organisms. He regards them as fundamental to the natural world and challenges traditional notions of hierarchy and symbiosis. Serres argued that the house system, which encompasses institutions and societal structures, can be viewed as a parasitic entity that exploits individuals and resources. He viewed the house system as a complex web of power relations in which certain groups benefit at the expense of others, emphasizing the parasitic nature of social structures. The Hungarian-British author and philosopher Arthur Koestler also explored the concept of parasitism, using the term to describe ideological systems that manipulate and control individuals. He deals with the complex dynamics between power, authority and hierarchies in organisms and bodies. Koestler introduced the concept of "holons" as a unit of analysis. „Holons“ are entities that exhibit both individuality and interdependencies within hierarchical systems. They represent integrated and autonomous components of a larger whole.

In the artistic field the parasite is taken up in many areas and presented as a mirror of social structures. Matthew Barney provides an example in his work "Cremaster" series. Among others, Barney explores the symbiotic relationships between host and parasite, blurring the boundaries between them. Through his installations, films and sculptures, he shows the interplay of power dynamics, dependencies and complex networks that exist within biological and cultural systems. His artistic exploration of these themes invites viewers to reflect on the transformative potential of the parasitic relationships and structures of human anatomy. Additionally, there can be metaphorical or symbolic interpretations of parasitic relationships in human society. Looking in the direction of human relationship patterns, we discover many parallels that are similar to the biological parasite on a psychological level. Similarly, in the animal world, there are symbiotic and parasitic relationships. A guest that becomes useful to a host is called a „symbiote“. A symbiosis is understood in the USA as any form of coexistence of different organisms. In Europe, symbiosis is a mutually beneficial relationship between two species. Other synonyms for symbiosis are "living together" or "community". Commensalism (stowaways) is understood to mean, among other things, animals that live in the organism of another individual (host) and are positive for members of one species and neutral for the other species. An example are the intestinal fish (carapids). However, unlike “parasitism”, they do not harm their host. (Piekarski, 1954). In deep-sea anglerfish, males and females fuse to the point where the skin and bloodstream of the mate grow together — this is called sexual parasitism, and it's a form of anatomical connection more related to transplantation. The male fuses with the female's tissues and is henceforth unable to feed himself, instead being nourished by the female's bloodstream, much like embryos in the mammalian uterus. (Swann, 2020). Mutuality (e.g. bees and flowers) often describes the symbiosis of two communities in general, in which both partners benefit from each other and kleptoparasitism (e.g. cuckoo), where a parasite steals resources from another organism. (Weitsicht, 2009).

Related works

The artist Ken Rinaldo presents in his installations symbiotic relationships. His work is often about creating interactive ecosystems in which technological elements coexist with living organisms, thus promoting a symbiotic connection. In doing so, Rinaldo examined the interdependence and harmony between man-made technologies and the natural world. A striking example of his work is his work "Augmented Fish Reality". In this project, Rinaldo created an interactive environment in which robotic fish and live fish coexist. The sensor-equipped robotic fish react to the movements and behaviors of the living fish, creating a symbiotic interaction that blurs the lines between the artificial and the organic. The aim of the installation is to think about the networking of all forms of life and the potential of harmonious coexistence between humans, technology and nature.

The artist duo “Art Orienté Objet” deals with symbiotic relationships between humans and animals. In their project "May the Horse Live in Me“, the artist Marion Laval-Jeantet was injected with horse blood plasma into her own body to contextualize the blurring of boundaries between species and the exploration of themes of symbiosis, identity and connection between species. For that performance she wears dons hoof, digitigrade leg extensions and walked around the room in step with a horse.

Australian artist Stelarc is best known for his exploration of the human body and technology. In some of his later works he incorporated the concept of symbiotic relationships. An example is his project Parasite: Event for Invaded and Involuntary Body. In this performance, Stelarc attached a robotic arm to his body, creating a symbiotic relationship between his biological body and the technological augmentation. This work questions the limitations of the human body and explores the potential for harmonious coexistence between the organic and the artificial.

Ad Infinitum shows a stand-alone and interactive installation where visitors can feed the machine with energy. This artwork is a parasitical entity which generates the energy from humans to get alive. Once the visitor's arm is in the machine, the arm is held, muscles stimulated to perform a cranking motion. Our kinetic energy is thus supplied to it. The only way to free a visitor is to trick another visitor into sitting in the opposite chair and taking his place. This project reflected what it meant to be „used“ by a machine.


I took the initiative to create three Scalptomorphas, each endowed with distinct personalities.


Figure 03.Foraredina 2022

Foraredina is an intrusive character that increase conductivity perspiration to create conductivity in the body. By stimulating skin regions and underlying muscles, it triggers tension, twitches, and sweat production. The parasite exploits the host's autonomic nervous system, manipulating sweat glands and blood flow to navigate and alleviate muscle pain. Additionally, Foraredina has symbolic potential, aiding with skin issues, muscle relaxation, and disease detection by promoting sweating for cleansing and complexion improvement. It scans the region for veins and at the same time provides relief from muscle pain.

Prosoma Crani

Figure 04.Prosoma Crani 2023

Prosoma Crani is a symbiote that attaches to the host's head, utilizing sonic to access the body and control sensory perception. Its tentacles manipulate balance and proprioception. By generating deep frequented sonic, it gains control over the host, influencing actions and sensory experience. In return, it provides a stimulating alternative sound level that resonates within the bones.

The symbiont achieves control over the host to control and control any actions, perception, or movements on its behalf. Its goal is to set the host in motion in order to produce optimal bone conduction and to influence the sensory perception of sound. He uses bone conduction to create a map of the body. He seeks out cavities, pathways and architectural constructs in order to gain access to the interior and the cycle.

Actus Tick

Figure 05.Actus Tick 2023

Actus Tick is a superficial parasite that relies on the host's vital signs and dynamics. Once attached to the host's arm, it adapts to the circulatory system's rhythm using its mouths and pulsating body. Feeding causes it to inflate and grow. If sustained long enough or through host switching, growth is encouraged. However, without the host's circulation, Actus Tick cannot survive. When oversaturated, it gets too heavy and falls off, needing to break down food before finding another host.

The Scalptomorpha's are attached to the human body and gain access to the organ system by measuring and analyzing medical parameters that monitor the body. Manipulations are triggered by the Scalptomorpha's to get at their food sources. I'm talking about food in terms of information in the body that defines the state and distribution of resources. Palpable values provide this information and can be influenced and changed by external influences. These influences can have positive, but also negative, emotional effects on the wearer. A dependency develops in the focus, which is mutually supported by the wearer and the object, since they benefit from each other. A new way of life develops as a result.

Coming back to the idea of the objects functioning as some kind of parasite, one possible trigger of certain parameters would be "hacking" the body. The sustaining organs in the body, such as the liver, lungs, heart, etc. communicate with each other and send signals, impulses and information to the brain. The parasite settles mostly in organs and feeds and lives in it as a habitat. As already described, this can have a symbiotic, positive effect on the host, or a negative, harmful one - but mostly manipulative.

This information from certain organs could trigger the object to send signals to other parts of the body. One idea would be to use the fascia system, which is a connective tissue that surrounds and interconnects various structures within the body, including muscles, bones, organs, and nerves. It forms a continuous network of fibers that provide support, protection, and stability to the body. Fascia also plays a role in transmitting mechanical forces and coordinating movements between different parts of the body (C.Stecco, 2015). It would be conceivable to tap into these endogenous signals that are sent to the object and which processes them and makes them feelable to the body. The objects can generate stimuli with the processed information and e.g. emit sound to the body area. This creates a cycle that docks with the body's own rhythms.

The simulated, non-organic objects have something corporeal and are reminiscent of something organic. They create an association with biological models that represent anatomical structures in an abstract way. They have their own organism and can represent the collected values (food) in the form of e.g. sound, which in turn influences the organic body.


As a result, the Scalptomorphas also develop a relationship with humans, which brings advantages and disadvantages. Hence the association with the parasite. Thereby, too, it is unclear who the parasite is in the end - human or Scalptomorpha. After all, well-being and the preservation of life are crucial for people. For this reason, the Scalptomorpha is considered an indispensable tool, provided it fulfills this task. The Scalptomorpha, on the other hand, draws up a map of the body and creates a digital overview. It processes the collected benchmarks and converts them into triggers, which in turn are defined. This creates an anatomical image, which for example, could be displayed.

However, one should keep in mind that the technological approach is clearly different from that of the living parasite. Their abilities give them the potential to scan and define the body. The numbers, measured values and impulse generators, which represent a virtual form of anatomy, play a role here. The abstraction creates an association of an anatomical image and depicts the body as a purely mechanical construct. The condition of the body can thus be diagnosed and kept alive. The idea behind it is to create a new kind of symbiotic relationship between the human body and technology, in which the machine becomes an integral part of the body's functions.

The fluctuation between abstraction and concreteness is an artistic medium. Taking the idea further, it is interesting to hack a concrete source of information within the body that surrounds and connects all organs. With digitization, a modern anatomical image can be analyzed and designed, which redefines the roles and hierarchies in the body. The form of representation also gets a new focus, which I would like to implement artistically in the future.


Bell, Shannon. 2017. Stelarc: Performing the Posthuman Routledge.

Combes Claude, Simberloff, Daniel. 2005. The Art of Being a Parasite, Chicago

Grochowska, Izabela. 2018 Stelarc: Obsolete Body Suspensions and Robotic Prosthetics. Routledge.

Hasso-Plattner-Institut. 2016. „Ad Infinitum: a parasite that lives off human energy“,

Henneberg, Maciej and Fenney, John. 2002. Stelarc: The Cyborg Experiments

Hille, Christiane. Stenzel, Julia. 2014. CREMASTER ANATOMIES Beiträge zu Matthew Barneys CREMASTER Cylce aus den Wissenschaften von Kunst, Theater und Literatur. Bielefeld

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Piekarski, Gerhard. 1954. Lehrbuch der Parasitologie: Unter Besonderer Berücksichtigung der Parasiten, S. 7+13. Heidelberg

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Smith, Marquard and Pierce, Julianne. 2005. Stelarc: The Monograph by MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Stecco, Carla. 2015. Functional Atlas of the Human Fascial System. Churchill Livingstone.

Swann, Jeremy B. 2020. Science. „The immunogenetics of sexual parasitism“,

Weitschat, Wolfgang. 2009. Jäger, Gejagte, Parasiten und Blinde Passagiere – Momentaufnahmen aus dem Bernsteinwald S. 251.


CLOT. 2015.„ART ORIENTÉ OBJET, blurring the constraints of our relationship with animals“.


Organum Paradoxum/Scalptomorpha: A Sculptural Parasite Plug-in to Hack the Human Anatomical System