The brief was “Time.” Basically, the artist’s interpretation of time and how it can affect the way we live.
I was already researching space colony prototypes that are built to mimic Martian conditions. In a way, they have become blueprints for smart cities in a future full of ecological and health crises. However, while they seem like a neat solution, there is a sort of exclusivity: What plants and animals will be saved? Which humans? How many?
So I wanted to explore how this model functions on exploiting biological and environmental time (labor and life cycles to make the city run). I wanted to make a work about the temporal regime of future cities and how it connects to the space itself.
I used the same format used by governments and corporations to show the future — rendered images and videos. It’s basically an animation with digitally rendered environments in which two narrators reflect on what’s on screen. Such renders rarely show any type of social organization — just skyscrapers, transportation plans… it’s always a city expanding with little reflection on how people will organize with or against that. So the voice actors and the poetic script create friction by imagining different modes of living than those presented in the renders.
I hope what comes across is how efficiency, labor, and functionality as current time measures inform the way future cities are modeled, but that might not be the best way. For example, with COVID, slowing down became a major method to combat the virus — rather than the usual ‘faster, better, stronger’ way we are accelerating through time. I also want to muddy the idea that the future is always a solution to the present, and this is done through the script — the lived experiences and bodily effects the actors go through as they live in these renders.
In a way, renders of the future dictate our present, because they show us what 100 years from now will look like. I would like this artwork to work against that and show that the present (and how we live through it, with it), rather than the future, can be the starting point.
When the future is presented as a starting point — as in, freed from any and all of the problems we face in the present — technology is usually presented as the solution. But technology without any social and political change just brings around the same core problems.