About the project
The design of the first exhibition of the recently created Design, Architecture and Digital Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, “The Future Starts Here,” is the result of a long selection process that resulted in the appointment of the New York/Madrid-based office Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation. Curated by Rory Hide and Mariana Pestana, the show examines the way 100 objects and technologies are currently tendering for disputed and diverging options for the future.
In the show, design moves away from 1950-60s persisting notions of space-age futures to create a series of contexts in which future scenarios, announced by already existing technologies, can be seen integrated into ordinary, recognizable settings, which results in the accumulation of existing architectures: Victorian gingerbread architectures mixed with brutalist architectural components and plastic-made, free topographies—a colorful, lighted vision of the future where the exhibited objects and technologies, instead of being presented in surprising fantastic realms, can be found as contributors in the making of common situations, inserted in familiar settings (a kitchen, a bathroom, a cafe, a street, a public parlor, a landscape, a corporate office).
Structured as a scalar progression in five acts, the show starts with an immersion into domestic life and the way it is currently being disputed by different notions of desirable evolution of domesticity. The narrative is introduced by a robot designed to do laundry. Following this is an arena where politics, corporations, and civil society confront and interact with each other. A back-lighted section of the planet, organized as a display in vertical levels from the deepest reachable strata of the earth to outer space, contains the way our environments are now being challenged at a planetary scale. This dichroic bubble collects technologies providing space for alternative modes of extending human afterlife. The exhibition concludes with the testimony of Cindy, a woman who uses low-tech prosthetics to deal with the toll severe diabetes has taken on her body, and by providing information and ways for the audience to take action in the making of possible futures. Together, all five acts are intended to reconstruct a sequentially scaling-up approach to a world both divided and convened by the discussions of alternative ways to construct possible futures. The exhibition works as an urbanism of five colorful techno-parliaments, where the use of large signs poses questions that help translate to the V&A audience a discussion in which objects and technology take part.
As an information platform, the exhibition overlaps five channels of information. The first one is composed of the actual presence in the gallery of the objects and technologies that are being experienced and discussed. Aligned with V&A’s focus on object-based exhibitions, this show includes an exceptional collection of objects, some quotidian, that gain a new criticality when placed within the context of the exhibition’s broader discussion. Other objects are totally unknown by the public or are seldom seen. The second channel is formed by the description and referential labeling of all objects, and the uses and contexts in which they take part. The third is the immersion of all objects in architectural and audiovisual atmospheres that provide the opportunity for these technologies to be seen as active and for the museumgoers to experience them as part of daily life. The fourth is constituted by a series of questions that reconstruct each act as an arena in which public collaboration is required to account for the criticality at stake in the various notions of what “future” means among the different technologies in the show. The final layer provides opportunities for museumgoers to take action, to express and made public their takes and to contribute them to the discourses the show preserves and communicates.
“The Future Starts Here”
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
12 May 2018 to 4 November 2018
Designed by Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation
Team: Roberto González, Laura Mora, Paola Pardo, Inés Barros, Álvaro Carrillo, Ayushi Drolia, Marta Jarabo, Pablo Maldonado, Bansi Mehta, Sole Mallol, Martín Noguerol, David Rodrigo, Isabel Sánchez, Belverance Tameau, Silvia Valero, Clément Vergé
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London