I got some serious Westworld vibes from the press release of TJ Boulting upcoming exhibition. After Juno Calypso’s phenomenal What To Do With A Million Years, it’s time for the British Journal of Photography International Photography Award 2018 winners: Sara, Peter & Tobias.
This exhibition explores and visually interprets the possibility that our reality does not exist as we believe it to, but that instead we live in a simulation. Could it be that our world is just a construct – a created illusion?
What’s reality? Where do we come from? Religion throughout the ages tried to come up with explanations, philosophers have been questioning it since Greek Antiquity (Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, anyone?), but no one has been able to fully explain existence.
Existential questions gained new attention in 2003 when Oxford University philosopher, Nick Bostrom published The Simulation Argument, which argues that life on earth could be a computer simulation. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, has confessed to believing this theory. If artificial intelligence is developing with acceleration, it will not be long before we’re able to create perfect simulations of our own experienced reality. So what is keeping us from believing the same has happened to us? We might only be programs inside a simulation run by others. We might only be programmed as entertainment for outsiders who are pulling the strings on our lives.
Sorry, I don’t want to provoke an existential crisis, I’ll leave that to the artists. The collective consists of Peter Helles Eriksen (1984), Sara Brincher Galbiati (1981) and Tobias Selnaes Markussen (1982) who are based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Past projects have been an anthropological study of UFOs and extraterrestrials, slightly less dystopian, but that depends on whether you’re more afraid of your existence being controlled by others, or by visits of aliens.
Back to this exhibition, The Merge visually entertains Bostrom’s the simulation theory. They explore the possible consequences artificial intelligence and robots have on our future society. What will the fine line between right and wrong in technological developments and how will it affect us? For example, vloggers who desperately need to satisfy viewers to come up with content and end up filming dead bodies. The project documents how we are rapidly heading to a reality where the physical and digital world will become so intertwined, that it will be impossible to distinguish between the two. Sidenote, there should be a new Turing test that should examine whether you’re situated in the actual or digital world.
The exhibition will provoke questions about the subject’s complexity; the images balance between realism and imagination, leaving room for various interpretations and engaging a dialogue with the visitors about the landscape of our future: “If life is a simulation, where should we look to understand the world we live in?” Although the content might be frightening, we can expect some retro cool beans gnarly pictures!
BTW, a free poster publication has been made by the artists to accompany the exhibition. Edition of 1000. So go quickly because when you snooze, you lose.
The Merge will take place at TJ Boulting from 13 July to 11 August 2018 More info on the exhibition here.