‘…from so simply a beginning endless forms, most beautiful and wonderful, have been and are being evolved.” Charles Darwin
The sun is setting on our idealistic and preservationist views of the natural world. The slow burn of evolutionary change, its endless generations, duplicating and multiplying with gradual mutation and variation is coming to an end. Now, as we stalk the strange and unfamiliar landscapes of robotics, bio technology and ubiquitous computing we are beginning to encounter a new form of engineered nature that we are not yet able to categorise.
Throughout history we have always invented monsters and myths as our way of coming to terms with phenomena we don’t quite understand. They are fictional tales of the natural world but at the same time they can be understood as a chronicle of the dreams and anxieties of the everyday. ‘Specimens of Unnatural History’ is a contemporary recasting of the bestiaries of the past, a collection of designed and augmented ‘monsters’ that explores these emerging technologies and presents new myths as a way of coming to terms with this strange new world. In these stuffed and mounted specimens we see a jump in the fossil record, an evolutionary leap, as the interbreeding of biology and technology gives birth to a collection of architectural beasts, robotic infrastructures, and hacked military devices.
They may be hopeful inventions or unexpected by-products, wondrous possibilities or dark cautionary tales. Here we gaze out across the near future population of our augmented wilderness. We lie in wait, where the wild things are, as these early specimens breed and multiply, contaminating the landscapes of a day soon to come.
Specimen no. I.
The Electric Aurora
The night sky rumbles with a dull hum. A flickering swarm of cybernetic fireflies play above the rooftops. As a mobile network infrastructure, the flock broadcasts its signal in a luminescent cloud, fading in and out over the city. Following the intensity of the electromagnetic spectrum, they map network strength across the sky, as we look up in wonder, our faces bright in the rolling glow of a wifi aurora.
Specimen no. I. The Electric Aurora, Liam Young, Tomorrows Thoughts Today
Specimen no. II.
The Augmented Ferrets
Perhaps the result of a parasitic tech infection or the mutant offspring of engineered specimen interbreeding this lame creature darts to the safety of the shadows to munch on its prey.
Specimen no. III.
The Migrating Forests
The liquid twitter of nesting birds rings out and parched leaves crackle underfoot as herds young trees trudge achingly across the barren ground following the weather shifts. The warming sun trickles through the canopy of this migrating forest as it chases climate change across the globe in the morning light of a day yet to come.
Specimen no. IV.
The Silk Factories
Tethered to a companion swarm of moths a nomadic silk factory herd spins its glistening web across a field in Western China. Shepherds track the herd’s GPS tags as the processes of silk production are taken out of the textile factories and returned to the landscape.
Specimen no. V.
The Bioluminescent Billboard
Carefully we watch our step as annoying bioluminescent billboards scamper about the pavement looking to catch someone’s attention.
Specimen no. VI.
The CO2 Scrubber
Scurrying across the barren landscapes caused by deforestation are herds of ravenous CO2 Scrubbers. Top heavy with their filtration foilage they convert Carbon Dioxide to oxygen much more efficently than the trees that once stood above them. They migrate through areas of cleared forest, chasing logging trucks, always in search of dirty air.