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Introducing Our Time on Earth

25 Apr 2022
5 min read

Have you ever wondered how we can live on the planet in a way that doesn't destroy the very ecosystems we need to thrive?

Our Time on Earth is a major new immersive and interactive exhibition exploring radical ideas from around the world that address how we live. Find out how, through technology, we can reveal the natural world like never before and approach the climate crisis in a way that inspires hope and positivity.

The eighteen works in the exhibition bring together different global perspectives spanning design, art, technology to show you a future in which people, animals, plants and the planet can flourish together. 

Exhibition guest co-curators Caroline Till and Kate Franklin say: 'The conversation about the climate crisis until this point has focused on depicting the scale of the problem – an approach that, while valuable, often evokes a sense of shame, helplessness and even paralysis. But we know that many brilliant artists, designers and technologists are creating ways to help combat the climate emergency. We wanted Our Time on Earth to carve out space to imagine a constructive way forward.'

The exhibition in the Curve takes place across three interconnected sections– Belong, Imagine and Engage. Our Time on Earth runs from 5 May – 29 August 2022. Find out more and book your tickets 

Belong: connecting to other species

It all starts with a sense of wonder. Opening in The Curve, Sanctuary of the Unseen Forest is a unique immersive video installation that reminds you of the deep link between humans and nature. Peer through the layers of a digitally-created projection of an enormous Ceiba Pentandra tree from the Colombian rainforest to discover the awesome connection of its natural living systems and their relationship to your existence. 

Created by experiential art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast with Bio-Leadership Project founder Andres Roberts, it shows the networks of nutrients in the ground being absorbed by the roots and the incredible process of photosynthesis that produces the oxygen we all breathe, demonstrating the tree's role as a living bridge between the soil and the sky. This renewed appreciation that we're one species among millions is fundamental to solving the climate emergency.

A person standing side on from the camera, looking at a large, lit-up image of the base of a tree.

Imagine: positive possibilities in a future world 

Next, you’ll enter the Imagine section of the exhibition. Experience Superflux's installation Refuge for Resistance, at which you can imagine sitting down for a delicious meal with a host of other creatures. Featuring crockery and cutlery designed to create a welcoming environment for fourteen different species, it encourages you to rethink your place in the natural world – as one where all living beings are considered equal. 

Soil also comes under the microscope in an immersive experience created by writer and activist George Monbiot and digital agency Holition. The World Beneath our Feet, tells the incredible story of the hidden beauty and complexity of the living systems in the ground we walk on. This hugely important ecosystem often goes ignored, but its health is fundamental to our existence – not least because we rely on it for 99% of our food. Worse still, modern farming techniques and deforestation are damaging it. 

Although they comprise less than 5% of the world's population, Indigenous peoples worldwide have lived in harmony with their environment for thousands of years, protecting more than 80% of the Earth's biodiversity. Unfortunately, in the high-consumption, often destructive, industrialised societies in the Global North, we've forgotten the importance of listening to and learning from nature. This Indigenous approach – which has at its heart traditions of Indigenous peoples – combines science and an understanding of humans' role as stewards of the planet rather than at the top of a perceived hierarchy. 

In the exhibition, watch a newly commissioned film made by Indigenous-led collective Selvagem; delve deeper and see what it would be like commuting to work in a city where the planners have applied Indigenous knowledge to urban design. Or explore a fabric forest showing a letter to the world created by Indigenous leaders from Brazil (which you can also read online here).

A large dining table and chair set up, crafted of wood and dressed with other natural materials.

Engage: collective action for widespread systemic change

Once inspired by these imaginative works and future-looking approaches, you may ask: what can I do to make a difference? The third section in the exhibition in The Curve – called Engage – will address this and empower you to act.

Stories of Change, created by the Earth Issue, with spatial design by Wallmakers, is a series of video interviews showcasing global grassroots initiatives that are making a positive impact. They tell the stories of those already acting to hold polluting or irresponsible corporations to account, to prove that by working collectively, you can have an impact.

Building on this sense of collectivism, Silent Studios (inspired by their work with musician Damon Albarn) have created a beautiful sound and light installation called Sonic Waterfall that inspires pause and reflection. Aiming to use sonic frequencies to relieve anxiety and promote restoration, this healing environment brings us together through sound and light and brings you to the end of the exhibition.

Looking through an arch, a room filled with large, low-hanging rectangular pieces of material.

Beyond The Curve

Our Time on Earth spills out into other areas of our building with six free installations for you to discover. Don't miss Noise Aquarium in The Pit, by Victoria Vesna. This unique artwork invites you to explore noise pollution's effects on the plankton in our oceans. These microscopic creatures are responsible for creating the majority of oxygen in our atmosphere, yet human activity can negatively impact their wellbeing. Making the invisible visible, this 3D audio-visual experience uses scans of these micro creatures to immerse you in an underwater world where you can create disruptive noise and see its effect on the plankton.

Through the interactive exhibits in Our Time on Earth, you'll discover that, by adopting a new mindset of collaboration and embracing technology, there is a positive future for our planet. Get ready to reconnect with our wonderful planet and discover different ways of being that will change how you see your place in the world – one with a positive future.

A person with their back to the camera standing in front of an interactive art installation, waving their hands above their head to prompt a visual response.

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We rely on the money we raise through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising to deliver our arts and learning programme. It forms more than 60% of our income. Show your support by making a donation and help inspire more people to discover and love the arts.