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Friday May 11, 2018

The Future Starts ... at the V&A


We went to the preview evening for The Future Starts Here exhibition - and unfortunately some of the exhibits had not actually "started here" - the house robot had absolutely HAD IT UP TO HERE with sorting the laundry (haven't we all) - but that probably did not affect the overall experience so much. It surprised me that it was really quite "political" if that's the right word - with items questioning if democracy was really working for this century, pointing out the truly appalling consequences of rising worldwide temperatures (for whatever reason), and catering for the increasing number of single people living and dining out alone ("We are now all connected, but are we still lonely?"). I tried out (sat in) a prototype driverless car/taxi, and was particularly taken with a tree project designed to help keep public spaces and trees healthy by having the public report in by email if they see issues with the trees; what happened was a wholly unintended performance art project, with people writing to specific trees (and getting replies), or penning odes to their favourite trees.

Really not sure what I took away from it all though - it seemed quite glum. It was intended to show "now", to avoid having to look back in future years on inevitably foolish predictions, but also to show that any particular future is not inevitable - we can make choices. Some found it "refreshingly hopeful" but it seemed to make it clearer to me that we aren't getting to grips with making any helpful choices. Now I feel much as I did after watching the documentary series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace which showed (among many other things) that our attempts to influence our environment* have all too often ended in making things worse.


* when I was at school we were told about an idea put into place to stop the high rate of water evaporation from reservoirs in hot climates by putting a layer of another less volatile liquid on top. This meant that the water underneath the top layer heated up - not a problem in itself - until in the end it reached a temperature such that the rate of evaporation was equal to what they had started with. I can't find any reference to this pre-1970s project on the web (I've probably misremembered it) - but there are many references to more recent scientific research still trying to solve the same problem in Australia and California today.

Posted by Christina at 11:16 PM. Category: Art and Culture