Spoiler alert: It’s not all flying cars, robots and jetpacks

Disney: The Magic of Animation may have just debuted at the ArtScience Museum, but the Marina Bay Sands landmark is not resting on its laurels, for it’ll soon be launching yet another brand-new exhibition that’ll take you on a 200-year journey into the future.

But don’t be mistaken; it’s not all flying cars, robots and jetpacks, nor does it present an insanely dystopian future like what Hunger Games and other Hollywood films often portray. Instead, this Nov 23-Apr 5 2020, discover what might actually lie ahead by checking out small, human-scale acts of innovation and contemplation with 2219: Futures Imagined.

Held in conjunction with the Singapore Bicentennial, the exhibition takes visitors through 2019-2219, beginning with Act I - Arrival, where we remain in 2019. Here, UK artist John Akomfrah presents his most ambitious artwork, an immersive, six-channel video installation that addresses climate change, human communities and the wilderness.


Superflux Mitigation of Shock (2017-2019) Image courtesy of artist
 

Jump cut to Act II, Home, and we’ve been taken into 2060. The Mitigation of Shock (Singapore Edition) by artist Superflux conjures up an unassuming HDB apartment, only to be filled with gardening spaces that cater to domestic food production. Our favourite part of the installation is the window, which when you look closely, shows a scene of what might be: water transportation via canals, turbines and no solid ground.

Next, head into the Underworld for Act III, which is less menacing but more profound than it lets on. As living conditions on Earth's surface deteriorates, the artworks in this section suggest that Singapore may move below ground, as creator Finbarr Fallon’s film installation Subterranean Singapore 2065 depicts.


Rimini Protokoll win win (2017) © CCCB 2017 Photo Martí E. Berenguer
 

And perhaps the most immersive and experiential segment of all is Act IV - Adaptation, thanks to German artist Rimini Protokoll’s win > < win. As sea levels worldwide would have risen significantly by 2119, becoming immensely warm and more acidic than normal, the climate capacitates the ideal habitat for one particular animal species–the jellyfish. Which means humans will no longer be the dominant species.

Finally, Memory of Act V touches on the strength of collective memory. Now that we’ve reached 2219, a year that Singapore will commemorate its Quadricentennial, the worst years of ecological calamity seems to have passed, as domestic crafts and rituals are practiced again. Besides trying your hand at the crafts provided, don’t forget to dig just a little deeper and check out all the artefacts and exhibits in the room, for answers to questions you might have.

That said, there’s a lot to take in at 2219: Futures Imagined. And while it is thought-provoking and certainly meant to be, this exhibition isn’t supposed to come across as a fear appeal that threatens and traumatises. Instead, it might surprise you, that 2219 wants you to draw the connection between art, nature, hope and home with its intimate stories and local elements.


2219: Futures Imagined runs from Nov 23-Apr 5 2020 at the ArtScience Museum. More information available here.