Steve Mann is the world's first real cyborg, a man who exists in harmony with technology. With the help of a computer that he developed to serve as an extension of his own senses, he is able to absorb reality electronically, ... able to confront issues of privacy and the manipulation. ... Cyberman is a brilliant exploration of obsession, the nature of genius, and mass media.
-- Canadian Film Institute, 2001.

"If we think of technology as a runaway monster, we can think of this as a way to tame the beast with a piece of itself." -- Steve Mann, inventor of wearable computers, in Cyberman. ... the first human cyborg, and that's the subject of Cyberman, a documentary film that had its U.S. premičre at Austin's South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.

The film traces Mann's gut-wrenching and charming 30-year path to merge humans with technology.

Cyberman, is about a genius computer geek at the U of T who created the world's first wearable computer.
-- Globe and Mail

Director: Peter Lynch
Country: Canada - 2001 (87 min.).
Cast: Steve Mann, William Gibson, Richard Mann
Rated: Parental Guidance.

Synopsis: Steve Mann is the worlds first real cyborg, a man who exists in harmony with technology. With the help of a computer that he developed to serve as an extension of his own senses, he is able to absorb reality electronically, and through the use of a net-ready camera fitted to his glasses, People cannot just see me, but also be me. Thanks to this interpretive medium, Mann is able to confront issues of privacy and the manipulation. Lynch makes excellent use of Manns medium by splicing together both his own 16mm footage, video and photography with Manns digital film and photo material. Through this synthesis of sources Lynch is able to foreground some of Manns ideas about manipulation: sometimes you cant tell through whose eyes we witness reality. Cyberman is a brilliant exploration of obsession, the nature of genius, and mass media.

Review: "Appropriately, Cyberman is a high-gloss, technically accomplished piece; Lynch integrates several experimental photographic and editing techniques into the documentary structure, the better to do justice to Mann's uniquely high-tech perception. He may not be the Terminator yet -- for a cyborg, he's quite unassuming -- but, as this film makes abundantly clear, there seems little in this field that he cannot accomplish, alone and on his own terms. The rest of us, lagging behind, can only shake our heads in humbled wonderment." --Eye Weekly

It may sound like a Saturday morning cartoon but Cyberman is actually a fascinating and often funny documentary about Steve Mann, scientist, inventor, social activist, performance artist and the world's first cyborg. The ultimate techno-geek, he sports sunglasses equipped with cameras and a wearable computer linked to the Internet. His goal is to have people not only see his world, but live it with him.
--National Post (review for Jan 25 opening at Royal Cinema, followed by Jan26 article)


The life and ideas of University of Toronto professor Steve Mann.

Directed by PETER LYNCH

Starring Steve Mann

-- TheMovieTimes

   scenario: Peter Lynch
   cast: Steve Mann
   camera: Rudolph Blahacek
   sound and music: Ken Myhr
   editing: Caroline Christie

--IFFR (See gzipped PostScript version.)

It's a visually intricate look into the head of the world's first cyborg: inventor, performance artist, privacy advocate, and University of Toronto professor Steve Mann. Shot on a melange of formats, including Mann's "Eyetap" Digital Betacam that's "constructed from laser light," "Cyberman" is portraiture as hacking, getting "under the hood" and trying to find out what makes a machine run. Here, humor and naiveté meet social agitprop activism: it's a "Roger and Me" for the William Gibson generation.

Artist, inventor, University of Toronto professor, ... For decades he has lived his life "connected" to his self-invented machinery, including a one-hand keyboard, an eye-tap that allows him to view the world through a small TV screen, and a camera that that feeds to his website so that visitors can "be me rather than see me." As an artist, Mann's cybernetic photography, known as "dusting", is a beautiful process to watch. Meanwhile, he raises issues about public surveillance and private space, about body and machine, and the vision of reality in a logo-saturated world.

Cyberman is an enthralling, sometimes hilarious look at a truly original thinker ...

... Steve Mann, the fascinating subject of Peter Lynch's documentary, lives his life broadcasting what he sees over a live Internet feed. But unlike other Web-cam mavens, University of Toronto professor Mann invented the technology he utilizes and has been wearing such gear for 20 years. His "eyetap" technology, for instance, can be worn as a pair of sunglasses; it traces the motion of the human eye, allowing the eye itself to function as a kind of camera. Mann uses this technology to start dialogues about privacy, especially as it pertains to government and corporate surveillance. Cyberman captures Mann inconspicuously documenting police brutality with eyetap cameras; ... The film could occasionally use more information and less Errol Morris-derived visual flair, but Mann is so compelling that any minor aesthetic qualms are soon forgiven. (Eric Allen Hatch) .

Cyberman had its European premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, where Globe and Mail correspondent Mark Peranson wrote, "the most excitement comes with today's world premiere of Cyberman - ambitious, compelling..." It was also recently previewed in the film magazine P.O.V., where filmmaker and critic Peter Wintonnick commented, "the most important Canadian film this year - a film that stands at the crossroads of form at the intersection of old and new."

The poster made for the movie theatres; a smaller version appears to have been created for promotion (we saw these up on various lamp posts and bill board posting places around the city):

Link to high-resolution version of above poster.
Tattered remnants of old Cyberman movie posters are still turning up around the city, e.g. on pieces of plywood used at construction sites...

FILM TITLE: Cyberman
Year: 2001
Time: 87 minutes
Film Types: Colour/35mm

Director: Peter Lynch
Producer: Michael Allder
Cinematography: Rudolf Blahacek
Editor: Caroline Christie
Sound: Sanjay Mehta
Music: Ken Myhr
Principal Cast: Steve Mann


rated by Globe and Mail (2001 Thurs. Sept. 6th, page R6) as third best movie out of 350 movies submitted to Toronto International Film Festival (considered by Variety second only to Cannes among international film festivals). Rating of "***1/2" (read as "three and a half stars" out of a maximum of "****" (four stars).
opens the hood of the world's first cyborg -- inventor, performance artist,
privacy advocate and University of Toronto professor Steve Mann ...
lived in an electronic world for 20 years... Lynch follows Mann
to Times Square, the shores of Georgian Bay and, to most comic effect,
Wal-Mart and Nike stores. 

Cyberman was rated "****" (four stars) by "Eye", 2001 September 6th:

Starring Steve Mann, Directed by Peter Lynch. 87 min.
a fascinating and often funny
documentary about ... Steve Mann ...
social activist and world's first cyborg.

Cyberman considered the best movie in the Toronto Film Festival (4+1/2 stars rating) by Toronto Life. The ratings are .gif images (this one being "star4half.gif") that don't show up in all browsers, so here is a gzipped PostScript version of the review.

Steve Mann has been living for the past 20 years as a cyborg. Using wearable EyeTap technology he developed and built himself, one of Manns eyes functions as a digital recording device. ... Cyberman chronicles this living experiment and examines the philosophy behind it. ... Mann envisions a future where his own grandchildren might re-view this Andy-Warhol-like representation of his life, using a more evolved device ... Mann's work can be perceived as pure visual art. Witness his beautifully enhanced night imagery of New York icons such as Times Square, or the traffic flow coursing across the Brooklyn Bridge in a polychromatic blur of lights. Yet it is also social experiment, as when he deliberately challenges a Walmart employee to prove his authority to photograph and broadcast his own image on the store's surveillance system in its entranceway. Manns film explodes not only the notion of objective space, but also the traditionally antithetical relationship of art, mathematics, physics, and technology. ... We are left to reflect on the degree to which our own glimpse of the world is altered by our perception: by what we choose to see, and to edit out. Mann sums up his approach as a challenge of boundaries. This suggests first and foremost that cyberspace is not some nebulous geography disconnected from our daily lives, but directly accessible and directly connected to the world as we see it around us.

Cyberman also deepens and deconstructs traditions of cinéma vérité...

The following pictures of the subject were taken on the roof of the CBC building and are distributed under the Subjectright License:

cyberman_tilting_at_the_information_age_cbc_roof_picture.jpg cyberman_cbc_roof2.jpg cyberman_cbc_roof4.jpg cyberman_superimposed1.jpg cyberman_superimposed5.jpg

Corresponding book:


Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer

Steve Mann,

ISBN: 0385658257

Corresponding textbook:

Intelligent Imaging Processing

(published by John Wiley and Sons, November 2, 2001)
Corresponding course: ECE1766, offered by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the University of Toronto