The exhibition examines our lives in every sense, from the personal connections we have to each other, to larger societal changes, or even looking beyond life at our own mortality – big questions, with big answers!
Science fiction writer Monica Byrne once said, “Who cares about your jetpack? How does technology enable us to keep loving each other?” Technology can be very pervasive in our lives but often contributes to feelings of loneliness rather than connection. A solution to this is proposed by Eenmaal, in a different way — by promoting pleasant solitude. ‘Eenmaal’ is Danish for ‘one meal’, and is a restaurant in which each table only seats one, in an attempt to reduce the stigma around eating alone. Perhaps an antidote to the hyper-connected world we live in now?
But the exhibition presented other ways to connect using technology. Using a simple ‘smart’ technology used usually to mechanically open and close curtains, we were blown away by the connection Miranda July made us feel with Oumarou, a young man from Niger living in Los Angeles, and a sufferer of insomnia.
A row of curtains opened and closed periodically, meaning that Oumarou was currently awake, or sleeping fitfully, or was currently using apps to communicate with his family in Niger. We were fascinated by the connection it was possible to have with him, each curtain explaining another part of his life, where he came from or his struggle with insomnia, happening in real time in the exhibition. In the age of mass communications, is the future a shift of emphasis back to the individual?
But it’s not just people who are going to be more connected; in her “Living Network” project, artist Jalila Essaïdi proposes a new way of creating a network using trees as antennae, that can communicate with each other over long distances. Because of the abundance of trees, she proposes that a system like this could be used in places where governments are trying to restrict the flow of information, giving power back to the people.
Whilst a lot of big questions are asked, the answers are mostly left up to the us to figure out for ourselves. This is done on purpose, it keeps the future as something that we can change and design, rather than something that happens to us. It’s an exhibition of possibilities, which is summed up by the end of the exhibition, leaving us to answer what we think the future is.
The Future Starts Here exhibition runs until Sunday 4th November 2018. Book your tickets today on the V&A website.