Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything. – Leonardo da Vinci Artist and Scientist
Located at the base of the Marina Sands Resort was Singapore’s ArtScience Museum. Like a giant cement lotus it attracted the attention from people all around. There were several exhibits available here; however we were drawn to Singapore 2219. Many items were “no touch” and “off limits” so looking only. However there were some interactive items in the exhibit.
This exhibit was presented in 5 acts.
Six giant screens all showing different images pieced together in a multifaceted artistic rendition of where we are now was powerful. A type of visual poetic argument containing images and storylines that explained the nature of our current calamity. The fact that it is large, on six screens, and pieced together from multi-media add to the reality of our confusion in how we are dealing with our changing planet and our roll in that change. I found myself moved beyond words and hugging my family afterwards.
We entered a near futuristic home in Singapore. Hydroponically grown food, kayaks to get around the flooded streets, preserves, food ration schedules, and meal worm gardens were all essential for existence in a world with higher sea levels, massive agricultural failures, and inability to run to the corner store to buy what you need. This home was the model of self reliance.
As the surface of Earth may become unbearable for a time, subterranean existence may be a real possibility. This section of the museum imagined what it might look like. As the environmental challenges to come may bring down reliable computer infrastructure, books make a comeback. An interested aspect of this Act was a library of essential books. How do we pass on essential knowledge? More importantly, what is “essential” to pass on?
This exhibit was most thought provoking for us. A group of nine visitors entered a chamber and listened to actors read about adaptation. We met and explored a species much older than humans and will long outlive us. The centerpiece was an aquarium of jellyfish. The lighting in the room changed periodically sometimes making it seem we were looking in a mirror, reflecting on our existence. Other times the aquarium was illuminated, so we only saw the jellyfish. During this time we hear from experts in German, Spanish, and English describe all things jellyfish and why they will persevere when we will not. For a bit, the aquarium was translucent, allowing us to see humans (another group of 9) on the other side and contemplate them from a different perspective.
In this last sections, we were asked to consider what trinkets and stuff would be left behind by us for later generations. Would they know what all the statues and figurines were all about? If they found a violin husk, a basketball, or a car part, what would it be to them? It hammered home the point of the ephemeral meanings we attach to objects.
The exhibit was thought provoking for us all
Because I didn’t mention it before, rumors of Singapore’s cleanliness are not exaggerated. I saw a few pieces of litter, but overall the place was impeccable. The metro was organized, orderly, and cleaned regularly. Every public bathroom was clean and well stocked. Most bathrooms had a digital survey screen for rating your bathroom experience. Messaging about behaving well, treating others kindly, and being thoughtful about resource use for the planet was everywhere.
Learning opportunities everywhere which is probably why Alyssa and Kylie were so motivated to learn.
I was left wondering if this was the future. Giant domes housing what is left of earth’s resources. Insect and animal free environments where people can experience a pruned and gardened forest sanctuary. Tiny segments of pristine forest manicured, curated, and fenced off. Cement and wooden pathways keep the plants safe from us and us safe from the plants. No mosquitoes, bees, spiders, or leeches — no wild things at all to make us jump or squirm. Just one giant garden to remind of of how beautiful earth once was.