Could a cyborg future become our reality?


An exhibition at Dublin’s Science Gallery aims to explore how future technological solutions might shape our bodies

AS TECHNOLOGY advances, are we destined to become cyborgs with mechanical replacements for lost or damaged limbs? Or will we become creatures of the mind with smart pills to enhance our cognitive abilities?

What the future mighthold will be on display this spring at the Science Gallery at Trinity College when the Human+: The Future of Our Speciesexhibition goes on display.

The theme is human enhancement and how we might seek to “improve” ourselves using new technologies, medical discoveries and scientific advances, explains gallery director Dr Michael John Gorman.

The gallery is now looking for proposals for “thought-provoking art/science installations, experiments, events, workshops and performances” for the exhibition. Those looking to participate have until the end of this month to make submissions for possible inclusion, says Gorman.

Although exhibitions at the Gallery always have science embedded in them at some level, the initial idea for Human+came from a humanities professor, he says.

Trinity College environmental historian Poul Holm raised the notion with the gallery. “We thought that it sounded interesting,” says Gorman.

The idea developed and broadened to become one of the Gallery’s flagship exhibitions for 2011. It is now a collaboration between the Science Gallery and the Long Room Hub and the School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin.

It is described as an interactive exhibition looking into the future of the human race, and is now seeking to achieve this aim with interesting, challenging proposals for inclusion.

The organisers want as wide a selection of ideas as possible and are looking for proposals including art projects, interactive installations that engage the public directly, talks, performances, workshops and lab experiments.

The latter builds on the great success enjoyed with the “Lab-in-the-Gallery” experience where visitors to the exhibition have the potential to become part of an actual experiment and contribute directly to the advance of knowledge.

The Science Gallery has won significant backing from the Wellcome Trust for the exhibition, so successful applicants may also qualify for support funding worth up to €7,000 per project to develop, assemble, transport and install their submissions, says Gorman.

“For truly exceptional projects that will have a big impact, it could be somewhat more,” he adds.

Project evaluation will look at relevance to the theme, its level of science and technology interest, artistic interest, overall costs and the ability to deliver the project. They must also appeal to the Gallery’s target market, young people aged between 15 and 25.

Gorman provides examples of what could be included, including the development of cybernetic organisms – or cyborgs – as robotic technology begins to replace or enhance human tissues.

Genetics and its ability to make us something other than human could be a theme or the implications of using science and technology to enhance human capabilities. The exhibition will explore how we define ourselves as technology-based enhancement progresses.

Human+: The Future of Our Speciesopens on April 15 and runs through June 24. Those wishing to submit proposals must do so by 5pm on January 31st. More information and application details are available on the website or by emailing