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This article argues that Hausmann's poetry and performance practices of 1918 and 1919 prepared the ground for the cybernetic imagery that became prevalent in his caricatures, photomontages and assemblages of 1920. Through an examination of Hausmann's poetry and performance strategies, his concept of human identity, and his understanding of the relationship between sexuality and social revolution, a new understanding of Hausmann's visual concerns is developed. In particular, this article investigates why Hausmann's portraits often undermined their sitter's identity; why Hausmann sometimes emphasized sexuality in his representations; and why, in addition to reminding their viewers of mechanized war, Hausmann's images of the human–machine interface anticipated many of the ideas inherent in the concept of the cyborg developed in the later twentieth century.