Super Human: The Alternative Limb Project

Sophia de Olivera Barata has revolutionized the prosthetic limb industry with her new Alternative Limb Project. Her work moves away from the idea that prosthetics must look as natural as possible and instead she creates one of a kind pieces that are both fashionable and functional. Viktoria Modesta Moskalova, an amputee, singer/songwriter and actress, lost the lower part of her leg and explains that de Olivera Barata's work makes her feel empowered; "The first time I wore a limb that was so obviously BIONIC, it gave me a total sense of uniqueness and feeling of mutant human in the best way possible." Instead of being ashamed or uncomfortable, de Olivera Barata has made disability into a chance to explore individuality.

Viktoria Modesta Moskalova wearing the Stereo Leg created by Sophia de Olivera Barata

The Stereo Leg by Sophie de Olivera Barata

De Olivera Barata is the Director of her own studio where she creates both natural looking limbs as well as personalized design pieces. Her experience creating prosthetics for TV and film at the University of the Arts, London, as well as eight years in the mainstream prosthesis industry have given her the tools needed to create these glorious extensions of the human body. The surreal quality of her bespoke limbs is achieved through both her own expertise as well as through collaboration with other artists -- designers, laser-cutters, metal, plastic, and wood workers -- in order to achieve the most unique and beautiful end result. 

de Olivera Barata at work

“Generally the whole technology is moving towards trying to recapture a lifelike limb that looks realistic and also acts realistic in motion,” says de Oliveira Barata. “In this instance I’m doing the complete opposite and I think it does capture that whole childlike imagination — it’s like being a superhero with super powers.” This style of artificial limbs pushes the boundaries of art and humanity, exploring new ways for the human body to look and operate; it is surrealist art with the most important of functions. And in terms of functionality, de Olivera Barata is also looking into new capabilities -- from swiss army knife arms with fold-out tools to nightclubbing legs that light up to music, and even cooking arms with different attachments for kitchen appliances are all in the works. Talk about super human!

The project is centered around empowerment, and by fusing design, science and technology, it gives amputees a new view of their bodies. “It’s drawing attention to their disability in a positive way…Rather than people seeing what’s missing, it’s about what they’ve got…Having an alternative limb is about claiming control and saying ‘I’m an individual and this reflects who I am.’”

For more information visit The Alternative Limb Project