An ever-expanding cast of costumed characters gathered in Pease Park on April 29, 2017 to celebrate Eeyore’s Birthday for the 54th time. Here’s a look at the people I met:
BODYHACKING. Although a body hacking conference may sound like a serial killer convention, the term is now being used to describe all ways a human body can be customized, modified, and improved. Simply put, bodyhacking involves making adjustments to the way we live, work, or sleep to improve our well-being. In fact, you may be using many bodyhacking techniques in your daily life without even knowing.
Proponents of bodyhacking believe that it’s a means for people to reach their physical and mental goals. They see bodyhacking as a parallel to computer hacking. While computer hackers make changes to software and circuit boards to improve a machine’s performance; bodyhackers seek physical, intellectual, or emotional tweaks to improve themselves. Broadly stated, the field of bodyhacking includes the pierced and tattooed cyclist you seeing riding through East Austin, as well as your glasses-wearing, fitbit-bearing neighbor. In addition, your hearing-impaired grandfather, health-food eating roommate, braces-laiden teenager, and your meditation coach are also all practicing bodyhackers. Common bodyhacking techniques that you might use include Lasik surgery, the use of prosthetics, thyroid medication, surgical implants, hair dyeing, tongue splitting, and even the taking of daily nutritional supplements.
If bodyhacking interests you, a rare opportunity to learn more about this new field will soon be available. On February 19th through 21st 2016, Trammell Ventures is producing BodyHacking Con, or BDYHAX, a bodyhacking and biohacking convention at the Austin Convention Center. The conference strives to bring together the many different groups now practicing bodyhacking — bodybuilders, meditators, tattoo enthusiasts, and tech folk — to expand horizons, create connections, and encourage the exploration of new frontiers.
BDYHAX will be a two-day conference featuring exhibitors, speakers, and parties. The free expo floor hosts exhibitors showing off wares, services, and hacks. Of special note are the digital freedom group, EFF Texas; the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS); aerial performances of Sky Candy; expanding perception technology by Neosensory; EnChroma glasses for people with red/green color blindness; floatation therapy by the Zero Gravity Institute; open-source human-computer interface technologies of OpenBCI; biohacking products by Dangerous Things; brain food by Natural Stacks and Axon Labs; microbiome sequencing services by uBiome; and the Cyberpunk Alley (for those tired of relegating the gritty reality of science fiction to books and movies). The Singularity Quest promises to turn a trip through the convention floor into a game by gathering missing clues.
BDYHAX’s speakers include Neil Harbisson, David Webster, and Dr. Rita Paradiso. Neil Harrison, who wrote the popular TED talk “I Listen to Color,” will speak about his experience in having an antenna osseointegrated in his skull so that he have hear and identify colors. Engineer, David Webster, will discuss how his design formula — person + machine + soul + energy — helped him create a Balanced Body pilates machine, a light-and-motion sculpture, a needle-free vaccine system, and a device that enables some paralyzed people to walk. Dr. Rita Paradiso will describe her work with molecular electronics, biosensors, and biomaterials.
The conference also is sponsoring parties including an Interactive Wearables Concert held at the Vulcan Gas Company on Friday night, and a Wormhole party, also at the Vulcan, with special lights, sounds and DJs. DJs for the parties include Elite Force and the Guild. If you have a fitness tracker device like FitBit, the Interactive Wearables Concert will feature a biometrics display onto projection maps.
As part of the conference, the e-Nable group plans on constructing 100 3-D printed prosthetic hands and arms which will be donated to needy children. The Thought Emporium’s nanorobot/nanoparticle projects will also be featured at this year’s convention. This special technology may revolutionize health care with its ability to carry and release molecular cargo in the human body.
BodyHacking Con 2016 runs February 19 through 21 at the Austin Convention Center. Registration is available onsite or on the BDYHAX site. We are excited to check out this strange place where yoga poses are matched with science fiction and look forward to getting a glimpse of what the future has in store for us.
Austin Weird resurfaced in Pease Park this weekend as Eeyore, the chronically depressed donkey A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh series celebrated his surprise birthday party. Began in 1963 by UT English students, Austinites have turned out in costume every year since. Sponsored now by the Friends of the Forest Foundation, Eeyores benefits a number of local charities and features May Poles, drum circles, egg tosses, and beer and food. Performing bands this year included Barbarians of Sevilla and the Coffee Sergeants. Eeyore always celebrates his birthday on the last Saturday in April, so if you missed this year’s festivities, you have time to work on your costume for next year.
Words and photos by Steve Hopson
More of Steve’s Eeyore’s photos at stevehopson.com