What will survival mean for us in the near future? Many place their hope in better technologies and smarter algorithms. In SURVIVAL, artists explore the ubiquity of urban surveillance and resulting human adaptation, the mysteries of perception that will need to be solved before machines can see the world as we do, and the algorithmic observation of the end of the world via the endless data offered by social media. New technologies also offer us a means to modify or improve ourselves. How might CRISPR gene editing technology allow adjustment of our personalities? Meanwhile, the natural world perseveres: the beleaguered ecology of the anthropocene continues on and the simplest organisms endure the complex requirements of survival.


The End Is Near by Franz Milec

The apocalypse is constantly present in our collective consciousness – with all the recent news pointing to it and Hollywood blockbusters priming us to start rebuilding once it comes and some of us manage to survive. The End Is Near tries to tap into this fear we share. Every time someone tweets the string “the end is near”, the artwork obtains the user’s current location and finds what the sky above them looks like.

Cupid’s Arrow by Emily Scaife

A moving-image installation exploring the twisted courtship rituals of sea-slugs. Interplay between multiple light sources layer photographic samples of the slugs’ skins and habitat, which are revealed through a series of peep holes into their tiny world.

Eudaemonia by Emilia Tikka

“Happiness then, is found to be something perfect and self sufficient, being the end to which our actions are directed.”
- Aristotle

Today the gene editing technology CRISPR/cas9 allows fast and precise applications to alter genes of all living entities. The emotionally triggering speculative design scenario, realized as a short film and as a fictional gene-editing device, thematizes the phantasmatic drive towards happiness as the ultimate goal of human existence in the era of synthetic biology. Conceptually the work sets its focus on the Greek philosophy of Eudaimonia, as one of the most fundamental concepts of “good life” as self- development technique. Three individuals of a broken family are seeking help from mysterious novel technology in their quest to find happiness. The dark poetic story draws a picture of a possible near future where the human soul has become a matter of genetic engineering.

Memory of the Future by Marleine van der Werf

How do we understand something we never experienced ourselves? The film installation ‘A memory of the future’ is a cinematic search in how we construct reality through our perception. What we perceive is a creation of our brains, filled in by previous encounters, memory, and expectation.

Where the City Can’t See by Liam Young

Where the City Can’t See is the world’s first narrative fiction film shot entirely with laser scanners. Set in the Chinese owned and controlled Detroit Economic Zone (DEZ) and shot using the same scanning technologies used in autonomous vehicles, the near future city is recorded through the eyes of the robots that manage it. Across a single night a group of young car factory workers drift through the Detroit in a driverless taxi, searching for a place they know exists but that their car doesn’t recognize. They are part of an underground community that work on the production lines by day, but at night adorn themselves in machine vision camouflage and the tribal masks of anti-facial recognition to enact their escapist fantasies in the hidden spaces of the city. They hack the city and journey through a network of stealth buildings, ruinous landscapes, ghost architectures, anomalies, glitches and sprites, searching for the wilds beyond the machine. We have always found the eccentric and imaginary in the spaces the city can’t see.

Mesocosm (Wink, Texas) by Marina Zurkow

Mesocosm (Wink, Texas) is part of an ongoing series of animated landscapes that develop and change over time in response to software-driven data inputs. The title is drawn from the field of environmental science and refers to experimental, simulated ecosystems, which allow for manipulation of the physical environment and are used for biological, community, and ecological research. In Wink, Texas, a large sinkhole— the “Wink Sink 2” located on private oil company property in the small Texas town of Wink—boils, gushes, flows and expels objects: plastic bags, oil and dark clouds that whirl out of the sinkhole’s vortex in ghostly choreography. Oil refineries burn off gases in plumes in the background as an occasional train or coyote lumbers past. This sinkhole has been widening steadily since it emerged in 2002; here, it appears as a natural geological event, complete with picnic rest stop furnishings. By day, the landscape is inhabited by a diversity of bird life, prairie dogs, insects, pronghorn antelope, HazMat workers and—depending on the season—by migrating monarch butterflies, snakes and sandhill cranes.

This exhibition is in connection with Imagine Science Abu Dhabi