According to Steve, cyborg.net was started when “four individuals, who are the best in their fields,” contacted him about being part of a larger project. The inaugural offering from this collective is called North Sense, a product that by attaching it with surface bars to an area on the body, promises to allow the wearer to connect with the earth’s magnetic field by giving the ability to sense magnetic north. The site states:
With North Sense, you’re given back an ancient sense of direction. Sensing the North connects you to earth, space and the continuous flow of the Earth’s magnetic field.
North Sense is a miniature Artificial Sense, vibrating each time it faces the Magnetic North. Your North Sense will not depend on an internet connection and will come with a dedicated app so you can make personal adjustments. It’s a standalone artificial sensory organ, coated in the highest quality body-compatible materials.
Fitting North Sense to the body is not complicated and requires the installment of two dedicated surface-to-surface barbells. Its small size and unique design makes sure North Sense will co-exist comfortably with your body.
In a few months, you’ll be able to experience new memories, maps and life moments, created and influenced by a new spiritual layer—your North Sense.
Steve Haworth was undoubtedly invited to be part this project because of his history of sensory enhancement with physical alterations—in particular his work with using magnetic implants to create a “sixth sense,” allowing the wearer to sense electromagnetic fields. While Steve may not be a household name to technologists, he has a long history in body modification.
Since the early ’90s, Steve Haworth has worked on the edges of the piercing industry with his groundbreaking work on the human body. (You can discover more about his work online, from his profile in WIRED to documentaries Flesh and Blood and Modify: The Movie.) He has broken new ground with his work on diverse projects in surgical body modification, including tongue splitting, transdermal and subdermal implants, and electro-cautery branding. The metal mohawk? That was Steve Haworth’s work. Silicone horn implants? Steve again.
As Steve was helping to actively push the boundaries of what non-medical body modification could be, he was a frequent guest at Infinite Body Piercing, visiting at least once a year from the mid to late nineties to perform procedures from implants to electro-cautery branding. Those times were much different; when the Internet was still starting to get popular, but before it was ubiquitous like it is today. Heavier body modification was much more “underground” at the time, limited to a more smaller client base. (ModCon offer up a good snapshot of those days.) With the Internet, as heavier modification became more well-known, there are more artists offering work and Steve’s visits to the East Coast have been less frequent. Steve still tours, and in addition to offering work in his Phoenix studio and abroad Steve also manufacturers and sells materials for a new generation of practitioners doing implants.
For cyborg.net, his newest project, Steve is joined by several high-profile inventors and futurists. These include Moon Ribas, who in 2014 presented an engaging TEDX talk where she spoke about her “extra sense,” that body is connected to online seismographs, so she can “perceive the seismic activity of the planet,” and Neil Harbisson, who was born colorblind yet “listens to colors” through a custom Internet-enabled antenna attached to his skull. These technologists, performers, and transhumanists are joined with a common goal of augmenting the senses with technology: to help humans perceive more than what they can with the five senses they are born with—or, in the case of Neil Harbisson, lacking.
While piercers and other modification artists continue to push the limits of piercing, tattooing, and other forms of body modification (such as with increasing popularity of tongue splitting and the newer practice of eyeball tattooing), it’s a fascinating partnership when Steve Haworth joins some of the brightest thinkers in technology to see what they can come up with. It’s going to be interesting to see where things go from here.