By Vivian Trinh Phan
PERFECTION assembles scientists and contemporary artists seeking to portray the ethics, consequences and opportunities involved in engineering the means to modify appearances, cognitive traits and objects in nature.
The exhibit is held on two floors, the first explores the lengths individuals will go to maintain or create an attractive and perhaps flawless aesthetic. The second floor demonstrates how perfection and imperfection exist from a mathematics, chemistry and physics perspective. Underpinning the exhibition is the question, “Are science and technology helping us curate the lives we wish for the future?”
SOCIAL COMPANIONSHIP IN THE FORM OF A FEMALE ROBOT
In Matt McMullen’s the idea of human-to-robot relationships is explored in a display of an advanced robotic companion named Harmony. The robot companion’s facial expressions such as eye and lip movement are integrated into an Artificial Intelligence system which allows her to mimic natural speaking. It is possible that companions such as Harmony will replace interactions with humans, but it is her imperfect facial expressions and rigid muscles that make her less relatable. Nonetheless, Harmony demonstrates that the gap that separates humans from robots in terms of being able to make natural expressions and fluid communications is closing.
Harmony is a modern companion for humans with realistic but imperfect facial expressions.
CONFIGURING LOOKS USING GENETIC MANIPULATION TECHNOLOGY
Given the development of genome editing technologies, Genetics Gym seeks to explore the scenario where “a person embracing their full identity as a complex human being- sexuality, anxiety, tension, might want to edit themselves…” Adam Peacock who is a London-based post-disciplinary artist and designer uses Genetics Gym to stage a set of altered body shapes, each having a distinct visual aesthetic. Each body shape, referred to as a ‘genetic package’, is associated with five different consumption behaviour types such as the ‘basic pleaser’ who seeks to be accepted in society and conforms to trends. Peacock views emerging technology, such as the versatile and precise genome-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9, as a topic that should be discussed directly within the safety of academia, free from commercial interests which could the conclusions reached. It is Peacock’s ambition that Genetics Gym will inspire new perspectives surrounding technology-instigated contemporary philosophy. In doing so, he aspires that it will beckon “a new generation of designers that will create frameworks and policies necessary to conceive technology in a way that would benefit human identity expression and existence, not [to] diminish it.”