What will happen to the human race when this planet is no longer habitable? Where will we go? This question is one that we have been asking ourselves since we realised that the Earth is not an unlimited resource and it is explored in the exhibition ‘Watch This Space…’, curated by Michael Tokarski.
According to the World Resources Forum, held in Switzerland in 2015, our population is expected to pass 9 billion by 2050 (Huffinton Post, 2016). As a result, our home planet will, eventually, no longer be able to support our growing population and the only option for humanity will be to leave and find a new home.
This exhibition aims to show us the possibilities that are out there. It will showcase artwork that provides a glimpse into what we will find on other worlds. It also delves into speculation – what if some of these worlds were inhabited before we arrive?
In order to show what is to come, Michael Tokarski, looked at what has happened – both in fiction and in real life.
Climate change, war, overpopulation, overuse of mining and agricultural resources are all contributing to the eventual downfall of the human race. So, Michael looked at examples of that in art and popular culture.
Video games, while entirely fictional, can provide an amazingly accurate depiction of what is happening around us. In the Fallout series of games the publisher, Bethesda, uses the pretext of a nuclear apocalypse destroying the earth and humanity rising again to slowly recover and repopulate the Earth. In the mid 21st century of this alternate timeline, the world “ran out of oil, sparking a series of Resource Wars as Europe invaded the Middle East and China picked a fight with the U.S. over Alaska even as the Soviet Union stayed together. Later, America invaded Mexico, annexed Canada and, eventually came full-blown Armageddon.” (Ostroff, 2015)
If the events of fiction become reality, we need to look to the stars in order to survive as a species. What will we find there? Many artists have explored this. Vincent Di Fate, Chris Moore, Bruce Pennington, and Chris Foss are just a few artists who have looked at other worlds in their work and the artists in this exhibition have followed in their footsteps in providing an insight into what our new homes might look like.
Jupiter from Io, Michael Tokarski, 2018, Digital Composite image on paper, 21 x 26 cm
This work aims to show what Jupiter would look like when viewed from the terraformed moon, Io. Once a world is terraformed to meet our needs for survival, we could assume that, like earth, it would have a blue sky, the same type of landmasses that we have on earth, and the same ‘feel’. So, when looking at another planet, from the surface of our new home, wouldn’t it be just like looking at our moon, now, only bigger? So, the artist has presented what would be part of our regular sky, in a way that ‘normalises’ this extra-terrestrial scene.
Rigellian Sunset, Michael Tokarski, 2014, Digital Painting on canvas, 75 x 50 cm
From the Artist: “Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with outer space. Not just from a scientific standpoint but, conceptually as well. What would it be like to live on another planet? What would things – like a sunset – that we take for granted look like in another sky? With another sun? This is my interpretation of how that sunset would look, standing on a beach, looking out to sea, on a planet in the Rigel Trinary Star System.”
Sunrise on Mars, Michael Tokarski, 2017, Digital image on paper, 29 x 63 cm
When we do, leave our home for a new one, Mars will be the most likely planet we settle first. What will it be like to wake up on that first morning on a new home? What will that first sunrise look like? The artist aims to visualise that in this piece. As a planet that already has an atmosphere, albeit an extremely thin atmosphere, it is the most logical place to set up our first extra-terrestrial colony. This is the view our colonists would wake up to, every day. The sun won’t be as large as it is in our sky but, it will still be clearly visible. This piece shows that sunrise on a hazy Martian landscape.
Alien artifact discovered on Mars 2106, Michael Tokarski, 2018, Cardboard and papier mache, Sculpture
What if we are not the first inhabitants of our new home? What if there were beings living there currently, or had been living there thousands or even millions of years ago? Would we find any evidence of their existence? What if the answer to that question was, “yes”? This sculpture by Michael Tokarski, gives a speculative example of an artifact that we might find on a new world – in this case, Mars. He shows us what such an artifact might look like.
So, in this exhibition, we have a range of works that give us different perspectives on where the human race is headed – both literally and metaphorically. Each piece takes a different approach to visualising the topic of humanity’s journey to new worlds and gets us to start thinking about our future and where that future will take us. Will any of this speculation ever become a reality? Who knows but, if it does, maybe exhibitions and works of art, like these, will give us an idea of what to expect on our journeys to these brave new worlds.