Welcome to the latest news blast from Propela
This week we have a Spa for Astronauts, the latest Designer of the Future and the death of dining as we know it... plus much more.
Lucy McRae / Body Architect
A Spa for Astronauts
Pushing right to the sci-fi frontier of what it is to be human, Body Architect Lucy McRae's latest project has been to imagine an Astronaut Aerobics Institute and its Future Day Spa. Conceived as a mysterious, high tech facility, the spa is designed to prepare participants’ minds and bodies for space travel.
Over 100 people participated in the installation in Los Angeles, experiencing a variety of emotional and physical reactions as they underwent unusual treatments in McRae’s beautifully designed pods and processing tents. In a foil-encased chamber, it delivers controlled vacuum pressure to replicate the feeling of being hugged and naturally triggers oxytocin in the brain. Mind and body are isolated while blood cells are oxygenated, while their biometrics are assessed through the cloud before their biology is adjusted.
An unexpected outcome of the treatments was that the sense of inner calm that emanates from the spa, truly lived on afterwards. As Wired magazine explains: “By suggesting the profound effect that the evolution of society and use of technology will have on the human condition… it has opened up potential areas for science and medicine, in particular the study and treatment of autism.”
This research has led McRae to further investigate the effects of deep isolation from physical experiences. She is now working on her Institute of Isolation project, which will feature in The Science Museum’s Future of Health exhibition.
Lucy McRae is a science fiction artist, filmmaker and body architect responding to complex futures with visually iconic experiences that douse technology in femininity.
Caroline Hobkinson/Food Artist
It’s like Punchdrunk… but with food
On 29 February, culinary conjurer Caroline Hobkinson will lead you down the garden path for an immersive multisensory evening inspired by the Royal Academy's new exhibition Painting The Modern Garden: Monet To Matisse.
Described as "Punchdrunk with food", the evening will feature five phases designed to evoke the essence of the works on display and make visitors feel like they’ve been transported to the green Edens on the gallery walls.
Caroline will be serving "Painting the Modern Garden in 5 Edible Chapters". Highlights will include life drawing on edible paper, botanical gins and a spot of "gorilla" gardening. Try bee pollen and nasturtium as you learn about the evolution of the English and global garden, investigate biodiversity and natural processes, and dig deep into the philosophies of the great and green fingered artists. Click here to view the 5 chapter menu.
Caroline Hobkinson is a food artist and experience provocateur. Her mission in life is to challenge our perceptions of the culinary world.
Yuri Suzuki / Sound Artist
From a co-lab with will.i.am to Designer of the Future
Tokyo-born sound-hacker Yuri Suzuki is fascinated by the entire spectrum of sound: whether it is turning bananas into instruments, collaborating with will.i.am, or devising musical notation for dyslexics (he is one). No wonder then that he just won the 2016 Swarovski Designers of the Future Award.
As part of the prize, Yuri will be creating an experience at Design Miami/Basel to showcase his fascination with extracting music from unexpected places. This time it will be Swarovski crystals, which he intends to explore sonically so he can offer ideas for better future living.
Yuri said: “I'm really looking forward to working on my commission. My audience can be quite wide-ranging, from very tech-focused people to musicians, but this is a precious opportunity for me to show and exchange ideas as part of a global design platform. I’m very excited to start investigating how the vibrations in crystals can be interpreted as sound.”
Yuri Suzuki is an award winning sound artist and sonic explorer. He pushes the boundaries of what is music and how it can be experienced.
Charles Spence / Neuroscientist
The death of dining as we know it
2016 will be the year of multisensory meltdown, predicts neuroscientist and sense ninja Professor Charles Spence. His latest research indicates an experiential explosion is coming soon as the public embraces both weird and wonderful combinations of sensory input.
Professor Spence says our future will be a feast of pure synaesthesia where the power of an individual event can be multiplied by appealing to different areas of the brain. Once upon a time, restaurants were silent as people concentrated on the taste of their food, while galleries were simple white cubes where looking at the art was everything. But these mono-sensory approaches are dead and according to Charles, the dream of “the total work of art” is about to reign supreme.
The difference now is that we have the technology to deliver and neuroscientists like Professor Spence are working out real rules from carefully collected data. And because these Willy Wonka style experiences are so effective now audiences, viewers, diners and consumers are clamouring for more.
Professor Spence worked with Heston Blumenthal on his legendary Sound Of The Sea, which made diners break down in tears they were so moved. His latest collaboration is with Krug champagne – creating an app that offers musical selections to enhance the drinking experience at a psychological level. He has worked with sound designers and also jazz pianist Jacques Terrason in the pursuit of audio-taste perfection.
This month, Charles will be speaking about his findings and how brands can enhance their primary function by stirring in other sensory effects at world renowned business school INSEAD in Fontainebleu, France.
Professor Charles Spence is a multi-award winning expert in the field of multisensory perception and neuroscience-inspired design. He heads the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University.
Rachel Wingfield / Biological Architect
Public art to take your breath away
Over in Taipei, a roller coaster like ribbon of light dubbed VelO2 is about to go on show, installed by maverick designer Rachel Wingfield. The spiralling installation uses air quality sensors to collect the fluctuating data then digitally animates the results, mixing a colourful sense of wonder with a call to action for an environment stricken by pollution.
Rachel describes the work as "a breath of bright light for healthy cities" and says the spectacular looping design draws on the study of air in motion to communicate the nature of our planet's fragile atmosphere. VelO2 is both an uplifting design strategy and public engagement initiative that advocates healthy cities. It's just the latest visionary experience dreamt up by Wingfield and her team at spatial laboratory Loop.pH, and is typical of their boundary-pushing work.
VelO2 will be on show in Taipei, Taiwan from 28 February to 3 March.
Rachel Wingfield is a biological architect and WIRED Innovation Fellow; her studio, Loop.ph, create visionary experiences and environments that interface the familiar and the unknown.
Julie Freeman / Digital Artist
A people-powered living artwork
Many of us have a tricky relationship with cold hard data and the way it governs our lives today, but artist Julie Freeman has learned to shape these binary blips and lines of code into hypnotic images and installations.
Her new online exhibit We Need Us dives deep into the digital ocean, finding patterns in the way we click and swipe then converts these into quirky animations. The data here comes from Zooniverse, an open source site where the public altruistically categorise meta data for the good of science, as well as our collective future. Julie’s artwork responds to live fluctuations as the data comes in, responding via both visual and musical elements.
In the same spirit as the way the data was formed, Freeman has also made her artwork open source to encourage people to hack it, shape it and share it – making the piece feel like it’s alive and kicking: future uncertain.
Julie will be talking about the implications of this mesmerising project as part of Big Bang Data at Somerset House in the Data Studio on 13 February. Click below and listen to her interview with the Guardian, UK.
Julie Freeman is a TED Fellow and digital artist; her work spans visual, audio and digital art forms and explores how science and technology changes our relationship to nature.
Nelly Ben Hayoun / Designer of Experiences
Earths last line of defence
Extremophile and designer of near impossible experiences, Nelly Ben Hayoun is never one to shy away from epic topics: like the end of the world for example.
Her extraordinary film Disaster Playground, out on DVD this month, investigates what would really happen if there was an asteroid hurtling towards the planet. You may think all we have to do is call up Bruce Willis, but in reality, it's a bunch of scientists and officials who stand between us and deep impact.
Nelly's quirky and insightful documentary puts these experts through their paces and shows how decisions get passed along the chain of command, from the SETI Institute and NASA, right up to the White House and United Nations. Disaster Playground was named as one of the highlights of SXSW in 2015 and described by MoMA’s Paola Antonelli as “Dr Strangelove meets This Is Spinal Tap.”
Nelly has long been fascinated by the mad, mysteries of space, which is why she felt such a strong connection to fellow boundary pusher David Bowie. In fact, Ground Control To Major Tom was the theme for the International Space Orchestra that Nelly devised in 2012. When Bowie died last month, she was moved to comment: “He was bold enough to look for complexity when we are so often told to keep it simple… Every creative has to have someone who makes us believe we can achieve the impossible.”
Nelly Ben Hayoun is an award-winning director and designer of experiences who works with leading scientists and engineers to devise subversive events and experiences that combine chaos, subversion and disorder.
Thanks for reading
On a side note, check out this amazing cover letter video. When can you start Bjarke?