20 February – 20 March 2016
Open Weds – Sun 11 am – 5 pm
An exhibition exploring ideas about immortality in an age of scientific miracles.
New work by Judith Alder with Fleur Alston, Murray Ballard, Rachel Cohen, Cat Ingrams, Anna Macdonald, Guyan Porter, Duncan Poulton, Gabriella Sancisi and Angela Smith.
In an age when scientists can create, manipulate and sustain life to an extent once unimaginable, The New Immortals explores our ongoing quest for immortality and offers ten artists’ responses to this new paradigm.
From the dawn of human consciousness, we have invented stories to distract ourselves from the fact of our mortality. Philosopher Stephen Cave theorises that in the current day such tales of immortality have shifted from myth, magic and religion to a modern form of faith which is invested in science, medicine and technology.
We are constantly confronted by an avalanche of media reports announcing so-called ground-breaking and miraculous developments in science and technology. Life expectancy continues to rise and we are told that we are in the midst of a longevity revolution. Leading bio-ethicist, Professor John Harris says in his essay, Intimations of Immortality, “It is unlikely that we can stop the progression to increased life-spans and even “immortality,” and it is doubtful that we can produce coherent ethical objections. We should start thinking now about how we can live decently and creatively with the prospect of such lives.”
It is against this backdrop that artist/curator Judith Alder has undertaken a period of research extending over two years, during which she has been talking to scientists, medics, philosophers, ethicists, artists and the wider public to explore ideas around immortality, and to begin to consider what advances in biomedical science and technology might mean for us as humans. She asks, ‘Could indefinite human life become a reality? Would we really want to live forever? and What difference would it make if we never died?’
In The New Immortals exhibition, Alder brings together a group of artists who offer their own perspectives on these questions. The work ranges from Murray Ballard’s photographic journeys exploring cryonics to Gabriella Sancisi’s video portrait of a newborn, to Alder’s piece in which a traditional hymn turns into a song of praise for science and technology. Duncan Poulton creates a virtual world from appropriated materials that hints at a different kind of immortality, while Fleur Alston creates photographic mandalas celebrating the lichen, an organism distinguished by its longevity. An installation by Cat Ingrams and etchings by Angela Smith highlight the confusing array of scientific and pseudo-scientific information that bombards us, and musings on hope, faith and belief are presented within work by Anna Macdonald, Rachel Cohen and Guyan Porter.
Each artist grapples with the subject at hand, only to reveal further, even more perplexing levels of uncertainty. Placed within a semi-narrative framework conceived by Alder and created in collaboration with the artists, the exhibits draw gallery visitors through a series of interconnected spaces in which mortality is confronted, belief is questioned, and the elusive elixir of life continues to baffle and inspire in equal measure.
Join artist and curator Judith Alder and guests in the galleries every Saturday throughout The New Immortals exhibition: FREE.
SATURDAYS 20th and 27th February: Judith is joined by special guests from the University of Brighton’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine. Scientists from the Centre will be setting up displays about their work and giving short introductions to their practices. Come along for informal chat and find out more about advances at the cutting edge of biomedical science.
SATURDAY 5th March: TED talks and Tea. Drop in for screenings of TED Talks on themes relating to The New Immortals exhibition on the hour, every hour at 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm with time for tea and chat in between. Students from Brighton & Sussex Medical School will join the discussions.
SATURDAY 12th March: An Introduction to Transhumanism.
The New Immortals Saturday Lab 4: An Introduction to Transhumanism. 2pm – 4pm
2pm Arrivals, tea & coffee followed by a screening of Posthuman: Introduction to Transhumanism, written by Peter Brietbart and Marco Vega.
2.30pm Navigating the Future: A (Further) Introduction to Transhumanism: a talk by Transhumanist philosopher, Peter Brietbart.
Picking up where the video leaves off, Peter will speak in more depth about ‘the three supers’: super longevity, super intelligence, and super wellbeing. He will comment on the latest breakthroughs in each of these domains, and discuss some of the ways in which their implementations could go wonderfully right and spectacularly wrong.
The talk will be followed by time for informal questions and discussion.
Peter Brietbart is a writer, producer and transhumanist philosopher and Director of the British Institute of Posthuman Studies.
SATURDAY 19th March: UPDATE: Unfortunately, Judith Alder will not be available for tours on this day as previously advertised. The exhibition will still be open however, so come along and see the show before it closes!
DRAWING THE NEW IMMORTALS
GOING OUT: BLUE MONKEY NETWORK VISITS PHOENIX BRIGHTON
Thursday, 25 February, £5 at the door / free to BMN and Phoenix Brighton members.
EXPLORING IMMORTALITY: SCIENCE, ART AND HUMANITIES IN CONVERSATION
Monday, 7 March, 11.30 am – 5 pm, £7 including light lunch, register here
THE NEW IMMORTALS RESOURCES
The New Immortals is supported by Arts Council England, the Artists’ Benevolent Fund, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and Phoenix Brighton. Thank you to everyone who generously supported the Kickstarter campaign.
The New Immortals is part of Brighton Science Festival