Human imagination is a thousand times more intriguing than realistic worldly possibilities. The enigma of the future has made people like Amit Gupta and Pramati Madhavji, curators of the ongoing ‘Materiology’—an immersive and interactive exhibition—rocket into the vast, dark, and totally baffling space of what lies ahead.
Materiology by STIR, an international platform for design, can be as complex or simple as you want it to be. In parts, it talks of the impending doom and in others, a flourishing future. It is a design conversation that seeks to foretell humanity’s and geography’s changing characteristic in catastrophic ways, with the impact reverberating down to the tiniest micro-organism. “We’ve touched upon certain basic principles that can be narrated and abstracted through the artworks. They are: changing ecological ecosystems, shifting human behaviour, a psychological/physiological adaption of the built environment, socio-political environments, and intervention of technologies,” says Gupta.
Using materials as their muse, nine designers have leveraged their mediums to narrate stories of how they envisage the future. “Materiology is a term that does not exist in the dictionary. It’s one that evolved from a basic thought, that material has potential (as has been historical) to tell a story and designers, the crafters of material, have all the creativity to abstract that story,” says Gupta.
The first installation as you enter the sprawling and extravagant STIR Gallery space at Vis a Vis in DLF Chattarpur Farms is ‘Preamble - 2 Ways’, by designers Apoorva Shroff, Ekta Parekh, Maithili Raut, Rajivsss Parekh of Red Architects. Through concrete, they draw parallels between the solidity
of the material and the importance of internalising what the preamble stands for. In ‘Room of Illusions’ by designer Manish Gulati and Anuj Mittal of M:OFA Studios, the mystery is endless. As you walk through its ever-changing precincts, you question the various illusions it creates, just like life.
Among all these futuristic interpretations, what stands out as an enormous reality check in this fluidly designed exhibition space is an installation that takes matters down to earth. Designed by Tony Joseph of STAPATI, it constructs a carefully structured landscape that mirrors the perils of mismanaged plastic waste. From a material that was once considered the greatest technological furtherance, to becoming a colossal toxic threat, the designer hopes the future doesn’t hold grudges against plastic and is able to find ways of utilising its benefits without creating an indelible carbon footprint. “What you will see, will not be what I will see in each of these works. The future is in not only in your hands but also in your minds,” says Madhavji.
Another compelling installation, also a matter of grievous worry is designer Madhav Raman’s ‘OK Computer’. Already, science historians have predicted that AI will supersede us at everything by 2060, and with this technological dependence, the future holds more harm than good. “The overpowering force that blurs lines between physical and cyber world are the cause of concern for me. With AI and human decoding taking over, it could be catastrophic if human minds become a slave to the wired non-biological, neurone-centric mind,” says Gupta.
The physical distance between each of the placed works gives you a moment to reflect. Every step allows you to ponder on the interpretations each one of us harbours about the future. With every step you take, you literally walk towards ‘a future’. When you arrive at your destined place (read the next artwork), the lines between the present and what lies ahead begin to blur in an indescribable way, one that suggests that today is utterly momentary.
It is a term that does not exist in the dictionary. It’s one that evolved from a basic thought that material has the potential to tell a story and designers, the crafter of material, has all the creativity to abstract that story. Through concrete, wood, plastic, ceramic, steel, bamboo, leather, fabric and technology), 9 designers have created installations, putting forth their interpretation of the future.