A haunting, subtle, urgent documentary, FIXED questions commonly held beliefs about disability and normalcy by exploring technologies that promise to change our bodies and mind forever. Told primarily through the perspectives of five people with disabilities: a scientist, journalist, disability justice educator, bionics engineer and exoskeleton test pilot, FIXED takes a close look at the implications of emerging human enhancement technologies for the future of humanity.
Patty Berne works at the Center for Genetics and Society as Project Director on Race, Disability and Eugenics, where she focuses on raising awareness about the ethical implications of emerging prenatal screening technologies. Fernanda Castelo works with Ekso Bionics as a test pilot, helping them develop the Ekso, a bionic exoskeleton which allows people with no or limited function in their legs to walk. Engineer Hugh Herr runs the Biomechatronics Lab at the MIT Media Lab where he designs bionic legs which allow himself, a double amputee, and others, to rock climb, trail run, play tennis, etc… John Hockenberry is an Emmy and Peabody award winning journalist, author, radio host (WNYC’s “The Takeaway”) and distinguished fellow at the MIT Media Lab, where he works to promote research into human-machine collaborations. Gregor Wolbring is a biochemist and ability studies scholar at the University of Calgary, in Calgary, Alberta, who lectures worldwide on human enhancement technologies and ableism.
These five individuals share a personal stake in the debates around human enhancement technologies, yet the world they are each working towards is quite different. Transhumanist James Hughes, robot scientist Rodney Brooks, disability studies scholar and performance artist Dominika Bednarska, futurist Jamais Cascio, disability lawyer Silvia Yee, reproductive rights advocate Sujatha Jesudason, brain-computer interface study participant Tim Hemmes, philosophy professor Cressida Heyes, and bioethicist Marcy Darnovsky also contribute, deepening the issues and revealing the social tensions that underlie these emerging technologies in surprising ways.
The film also celebrates the rich world of disability culture by weaving in excerpts of performances by some of the world’s leading integrated dance companies, featuring disabled and non-disabled dancers, and other artists including AXIS, Lisa Bufano, GIMP with Jen Bricker, Lawrence Carter-Long, Jeffrey Freeze, Lezlie Frye and Catherine Long, Kounterclockwise with Dancing Wheels, and Antoine Hunter (Sins Invalid and Urban Jazz Dance Company) from the U.S.; Sue Austin, Anjali Dance, Marc Brew, Candoco from the U.K.; and the Remix Dance Company from South Africa.
Through a dynamic mix of verité, dance, archival and interview footage, FIXED challenges notions of normal, the body and what it means fundamentally to be human in the 21st century.