The Best of Mr.Chao - A Futurologist Collection aims to be a visual meditation on the future, dealing with invented situations, scientific discoveries at laboratories and universities, scenes of natural and artificial life, insects and microorganisms, robots and nest fragments. Through an interdisciplinary and non-linear narrative, the series gathers photographs on a certain scope: future, nature and technology.
The intention is to show how these subjects meet and overlap in time and space, which are not determined in the series. This is because, often, the images appear to be from a distant past or part of an obsolete technology. Sometimes the images are shown within technological proposals that are still under development. And in other cases, they emerge from the imagination of the photographer about concepts of the “future”.
The idea for the work sparked after a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp ( MHUKA ), where I learned about the work of the futurologist Jim Dator. I found the idea of someone becoming a professional in the "future forecast" unusual.
In one of his lectures I watched later on YouTube, he said a key phrase for the project: "In order to predict the future, we rely on the images of the present." It was when I thought about the story of a fictional futurologist ( Mr.Chao ) and his collection of images ( photographs made by me ), organized around concepts of technology such as holograms, augmented reality, internet of things, 3D printing, research on robotics, more specifically soft robotics, among other concepts that I got interested and learned throughout the research for the project.
One of them is a particular type of algorithm, called the Bio-Algorithm, where natural phenomena can serve as inspiration for computational solutions. These phenomena can range from spirals and magnetism to the collective behavior of cockroaches, ants, bees and fungi, for example. In Belgium, I found laboratories at universities where some of these natural beings were being studied.
During this period, I also approached authors who deal with the human rethinking on earth, such as the philosophers Timothy Morton, Bruno Latour, Yuval Noah Harari, and Graham Harman - this in particular with the Object Oriented Ontology - OOO. I studied the work of these authors, applying part of their ideas to the project.
Due to the urgency of the subject and the need to reflect on what I was researching, I tried to create a work full of layers and quite complete.
In the end, the work reflects this moment of re-construction of thoughts that we are passing through or the construction of something new. A clumsy, non-uniform and weird mix of new and obsolete elements, discarded materials, digital manipulations and robots with advanced technology.
The series proposes to think about how individuals can begin to challenge preconceived concepts about the future - often dystopic.
*The work submitted is from my Master Project, produced between 2017 and 2018, during my MFA at the Royal School of Arts, Ghent, Belgium.
** The dummy of the book was shortlisted for Unseen Dummy Award 2018.