As regular readers of this Blog will now be familiar, your author is constantly seeking new ways in which to learn more about the future. To this end, he spent an hour recently on a guided tour around Selfridges, one of London's largest department stores. However, this was no shopping trip. The venue (which our host for the tour described as having a “relentlessly innovative” culture) has teamed up with 11 different artists to create the SUPERFUTURES exhibition.
Part of the purpose of art has always been to educate. The angle behind the Selfridges’ exhibition (above and beyond bringing in the punters) is to demonstrate the ways in which artists are using their projects to imagine a more positive and sustainable future. The retailer is also practising what it preaches, introducing more plastic alternatives, plant-based materials and recycled options into its product range. It hopes that customers will do the same.
Beyond the visually compelling nature of works on display (a nine-foot tall, hyper-realistic moving face was the standout feature, although enlarged insect genitalia were also thought-provoking), there was much to take away which correlates directly to future trends we have discussed elsewhere. Monira Al Qadari’s “Benzene Float”, for example, highlights the world’s (unhealthy) dependence on oil and constitutes a call to arms for greater advancement of renewables projects. Meanwhile Olivia Laric’s “Reclining Pan” raises issues of provenance, identity and authorship. By implication, it also discusses ownership of material products and how different, or novel, substances can be used as alternatives. Nanotechnology and synthetic biology are themes which we believe will only grow in importance. Regarding the huge face and insect parts (respectively, Gentle Monster’s “The Giant” and Joey Holder’s “aequator”), both allude to the crossover between technology and biology. They pose the question of whether artificial intelligence (AI) can create new ‘species’ to solve old problems. At the same time, there is an implicit recognition of the limits of technology and the ethics of AI.
The final exhibit we viewed was a piece by Nico Vascellari. Its title is self-explanatory: “in dark times we must dream with open eyes.” The key point made here – and one with which we concur – is that in a world which many see as rightly challenging, it is important to look for positives. Change will not happen unless we fight for it.
The Future Trends Blog will now be taking a summer break and will return towards the end of August.
9 August 2022
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
Photos taken by author.
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