Last week, I went to an event based on The New Immortals exhibition, an exhibition exploring ideas about immortality in an age of scientific miracles, curated by Judith Alder. The display brings together the work of ten artists, and the event drew in scientists, medics and artists to respond to the work. It was really interesting to be in a room full of people committed to the crossover between art and science, and great to get a range of views on the exhibition. It made me think about the module I did last year on utopian fiction, and the idea that utopia is in many ways an impossibility: one person’s utopia imposes unliveable rules on another. The idea of immortality, whether living forever, or living for two hundred years or a thousand, as experts quoted at the event suggested might become possible, all come with downsides. If you think globally, the planet couldn’t sustain a population where no-one dies: would we have to stop having children too? On an individual basis, at what point would life become dull, or can we continue to have new experiences, new challenges and enthusiasms forever? What would be the challenges of living with a body that was existing way beyond its sell by date? One speaker asked, ‘What would tiredness fell like when you are 200?’.
The older get, the more willing I am to consider death as a welcome ending. As a teenager it seemed terrifying, now, midway through life, I can envisage the need for everything to stop. As another speaker said, ‘I don’t want to be here when the sun explodes, so I must want to die, but I just don’t know when’.
There was some interesting art on display, and I’m going back this weekend for another look if everything goes to plan!
The New Immortals runs until 20th March at the Phoenix, Brighton. Find out more: http://www.phoenixbrighton.org/events/the-new-immortals/
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