V&A exhibition leaps into the future
A new show at the V&A presents the worrying future of the world in 100 objects
It is becoming clear that the safeguarding of the future of the planet is probably best not left to politicians — especially the current lot, with their extra-itchy index fingers — which leads to the question of: well, then who? This is the fundamental theme that underlies The Future
Starts Here, a new exhibition at the V&A in London which gathers together various solutions to issues both present and imminent, from oil slicks and DNA decoding to the rise of the robots and the human colonisation of space.
These solutions, which range from the intriguing to the borderline whacko, come from environmentalist product designers, like Hong Kongbased Cesar Harada whose robotic ship, “Protei”, detects and deals with oil sheens, and inquisitive artists like Heather Dewey-Hagborg, who has created facial portraits of WikiLeaks leaker Chelsea Manning based only on samples of her DNA. They also come from citizens, like the good people of Rotterdam, who crowdfunded a cheery yellow footbridge to connect the north of the city to the down-at-heel centre, in a bid to give it a new lease of life.
And, of course, they come from technocracies. A predicted “highlight” of the exhibition will be Facebook’s Aquila aircraft, a solarpowered high-altitude drone which is all part of Facebook’s “efforts to bring affordable connectivity to unconnected regions around the world,” and is in no way related to the relative internet saturation in the developed world and Facebook’s need to create new markets and collect untapped user data in order to fulfil the needs of rapid and rabid capitalist expansion. No siree.
The future is coming, but this show will make you ponder more carefully in whose hands we should put it.
— The Future Starts Here runs from 12 May to 4 November at the V&A, London SW7;
Abu Dhabi’s planned zero-carbon community ‘Masdar City’, below, and Rotterdam’s crowdfunded yellow bridge, bottom left, are two designs featured at the V&A’s latest exhibition