Human+: The Future of Our Species at Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Roma, through July 1, 2018

“Cyborgs, superhumans and clones. Evolution or extinction? What does it mean to be a human today. What will it feel like to be a human a hundred years from now? Technological capabilities are increasing at a rapid pace—should we continue to embrace modifications to our minds, bodies and daily lives, or are there boundaries we shouldn’t overstep?

HUMAN+: The Future of Our Species is an exhibition that explores potential future trajectories of humankind by considering the implications of both historical and emerging technologies. The ‘plus’ symbol in Human+ implies a positive direction for the future of our species. But what is that direction? For the majority of the 20th century, progress has been measured by increased speed and efficiency—faster, better, stronger—but the side effects have been fatter, sadder and exhausted. Our definition of success needs to be recalibrated.

The 21st century will be characterized by the confluence of fields such as biotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence. Manipulating biological processes, controlling digital and mechanical machines and creating non-biological intelligence above and beyond what humans can comprehend— these advances raise ethical questions about the appropriation of life and the alteration of the self. The converging forces of these and other currents will lead us to a new and unknown place.

From subtle provocations to grand gestures, the artworks in this exhibition consider how these changes might be adopted and assimilated. The value in speculation is not prediction, but reflection. What are we striving for? We are designing our future, consciously or not, and every creator, whatever their discipline, will play a part in this process. In this exhibition artists, designers and scientists speculate on and imagine many possible futures. Now it’s your turn.” — Palazzo delle Esposizioni

Section 1: Augmented Abilities

Aimée Mullins, Gambe da ghepardo (Cheetah legs). Installation. Photo: Howard Schatz

Lorenz Potthast, Casco deceleratore (Decelerator helmet),  2014. Installation. Photo courtesy the artist.

Section 2: Encountering Others

Louis-Philippe Demers, Area V5: Robotica sociale interattiva (Interactive social robotics), 2009-2010. Installation. Photo: CCCB Barcelona

Louis-Philippe Demers, Detail of Area V5: Robotica sociale interattiva (Interactive social robotics), 2009-2010

Yves Gellie, Part of a series of portraits of humanoid robots. Versione umana 2.0 (Human version 2.0), 2007 – 2009. Photographic print. Photo courtesy the artist. Courtesy Baudoin Lebon

Yves Gellie, Part of a series of portraits of humanoid robots. Versione umana 2.0 (Human version 2.0), 2007 – 2009. Photographic print. Photo courtesy the artist. Courtesy Baudoin Lebon

Section 3: Authoring Environments

Laura Allcorn, Progetto di impollinazione umana (Project of human pollination), 2009. Installation. Photo courtesy the artist

Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, Foraggieri (Foragers), 2009. Installation. Photo: Jason Evans

Section 4: Life at the Edges

Agatha Haines, Trasfigurazioni (Transfiguration), 2013. Installation. Photo: Agatha Haines

Tissue Culture & Art Project, Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr. Bambole scacciapensieri semiviventi (Semi-alive dolls that make thoughts disappear). Installation, 2000. Photo Courtesy CCCB Barcelona – La Fotografica 2015

Section 5: Human, Superhuman?

Donato Piccolo, Leonardo sogna le nuvole (Leonardo dreams of clouds), 2014. Kinetic sculpture (latex, oil, aluminum, smoke machine, electronic components), cm 120 x 45 x 23. Courtesy l’artista e Galerie Mazzoli. Photo: Angelo Sabatiello

Donato Piccolo, Detail of Leonardo sogna le nuvole (Leonardo dreams of clouds), 2014

Section 5 was curated by Valentino Catricalà, Fondazione Mondo Digitale.

The exhibition was conceived and shown for the first time at Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin. The touring version is co-produced by Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona.

Human+: The Future of Our Species was curated by Cathrine Kramer.

Images courtesy Palazzo delle Esposizioni.