The Institute of Isolation

THU 8 September - MON 12 September, 10AM-7:30PM, POSTCITY
Lucy McRae Institue of IsolationCredit: Claudia Schnugg

Lucy McRae

The Institute of Isolation

The Institute of Isolation is a short film exploring the body beyond Earth’s edge, following Lucy McRae as she tests the effects that extreme experience might have on evolving human capacities.

A series of sensory chambers simultaneously challenge her body and brain to adapt to her plight; the microgravity trainer conditions the body for possible life in space, or time spent in an anechoic chamber explores the psychoacoustics of silence. The film is based on the premise that we are in a different phase of evolution—driven not just by nature, but human intent. In her self-reflexive narrative, Lucy contemplates whether isolation could be designed to augment fundamental aspects of human resilience.

Project: Lucy McRae, Julian Love, Lotje Sodderland, Daniel Gower

Developed with Ars Electronica Futurelab (Claudia Schnugg, Michael Mayr, Veronika Pauser, Andreas Jalsovec and Christopher Lindinger) and with special thanks to Juan Enriquez, Ricardo Bofill, Professor Nikolas Rose, Professor Emmanuele A Jannini, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Rombaut Shoes, GSK Human Performance Lab, University of Southampton, Dr Steve Dorney, Dr Peter Glynne-Jones, La Sainte Union Catholic School, Fischauer Thermalbad, Klinische Abteilung für Thorax- und Hyperbare Chirurgie, LKH-Universitätsklinikum Graz, Oberösterreichische Gebietskrankenkasse, Outro Studio, Mark Ruffs and Daniel Gower.

The Project has been realized in the framework of Sparks, supported by the European Commission H2020 programme.

Credit: Claudia Schnugg

Make Your Maker

A crude laboratory plays host to a series of macabre experiments, based on the premise that “food and the body are inseparable”. Lucy’s film takes on genetic manipulation, creating glowing comestibles that drip and flow to mould bodily shapes that are then harvested, sliced and repackaged for consumption.

The Future Day Spa

The Future Day Spa is a personalized, physiological experience that delivers controlled vacuum pressure to the body. Based on the principles of negative pressure, participants hand their bodies over to a part-human, part-machine process as they are induced into a state of relaxation. The project employs wireless technologies for measuring biometric data, to begin understanding the physiological capabilities of a treatment.

After trials on over 100 individuals, one participant disclosed that he denied himself any physical contact with other humans and at the end of his treatment responded with a self-initiated hug. Denying oneself touch silences the release of oxytocin in the brain, a hormone said to be involved in social recognition and the formation of trust between people. This unexpected response has raised interesting parallels between the behavioral effects of oxytocin release and the the Future Day Spa’s role in shifting human emotion.

It was originally designed to prepare the body for space, and these results have initiated broader research to explore how spa methods can naturally produce oxytocin in the brain and be developed to treat social isolation, autism spectrum or depression. The next steps are to detect the electrical activity in the brain during a Future Day Spa treatment and understand the role machine touch might have on the body and our emotions.

Commissioned by Inventor Lab and Qualcomm and produced by Pollyanna Whitman.

Credit: Lucy McRae