16 January 2012
RMIT Gallery's future visions captivate critics and audiences
Visitors have just two weeks left to see the highly popular RMIT Gallery exhibition, 2112 Imagining the Future.
David Parken, CEO of the Australian Institute of Architects, Brian Zulaikha, National President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Suzanne Davies, RMIT Gallery Director and Professor Paul James, Global Cities Research Institute, at the exhibition opening night.
Japanese artist Kenji Yanobe (left) with translator Ken Shimizu.
Gallery visitors play with Canadian artist Lyndal Osborne's interactive seed installation Ab Ovo.
A visitor ponders Patricia Piccinini's life-like sculpture Game Boys Advanced.
The show, which ends on 28 January, has captured both the media and public's imagination with its thought-provoking artworks.
The exhibition provides a variety of perspectives about the future, from Japanese artist Kenji Yanobe's lifesize replica of himself wearing an Atom Suit to Philip Brophy's dark zombie film Northern Void, and Lyndal Osborne's colourful and interactive seed bank installation.
Viewers have been jolted by Patricia Piccinini's realistic sculptures of identical, prematurely ageing boys and Hisaharu Motoda's unnerving lithographs of well-known landmarks in ruins, such as the MCG and Sydney Opera House.
RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies said audiences have responded positively and enjoyed seeing new media alongside more traditional forms like oil painting.
"Tourists and summer city visitors in particular have been flocking to see the show," Ms Davies said.
Comments filling the visitor book range from "Let's hope the politicians see this!" to "I will not forget it - the kind of thing seen in New York" and "This would be one of my great experiences in this short business trip. Well done!".
Others noted the works provided "a chilling vision" and described the show as "fascinating - and bleak".
Ms Davies said that it was never the gallery's intention to showcase work that was simply dystopian and depressing.
"While some artists share a sense of uncertainty or anxiety about the future, others believe that the human spirit, along with the capacity of scientific innovation, will overcome all our environmental and climactic challenges," she said.
Exhibition Curator Dr Linda Williams, Associate Professor in Art, Environment and Cultural Studies at RMIT, said she did not think artists had a pessimistic attitude, but rather that their dystopian imagery forms a critique of the conditions of the present.
When opening the exhibition in December, Professor Paul James, Director of RMIT Global Cities Research Institute, said that in his view, the artists involved were all "looking through a dark glass darkly".
"I use that religious metaphor - that idea of thinking through to the future makes it almost impossible to talk about the future," he said.
The exhibition has proven popular from the outset, with more than 500 people packed into RMIT Gallery on the opening night.
Professor James said he found the large crowd "uplifting and reassuring" because it meant that there was life in art "outside the blockbuster".
As part of the exhibition, the Australian Institute of Architects' stunning 3D stereoscopic animation NOW and WHEN Australian Urbanism highlights three of Australia's most interesting urban regions as they are now, before dramatically representing futuristic urban environments as they may look in the year 2050.
In his glowing review, The Age's respected visual arts critic Robert Nelson singled out Now and When: Australian Urbanism as providing the "strongest statements of optimism" in the exhibition, with the 3D glasses bringing remote ideas up close "with almost tangible presence".