The future will be stranger than we can imagine today. With over 7 billion inhabitants, more of whom are connected and educated than ever before, the world has become fertile ground for the birth and transmission of new ideas, cultures, technologies, and art—all at a disconcertingly fast pace. Our ability to predict the future is becoming increasingly limited, as if it is being swallowed up by a blank event horizon.
If you were transported a hundred years into the future you would see scarcely imaginable, incredible objects, technology, and cultural changes: interstellar travel, trickster AIs, mindreading technology, and a world shaped by climate change. And yet, you would also see so much that would be familiar to you, from the clothes people wore to the stories they told.
But there are no time machines in real life. Instead, we experience the passage of time second-by-second, and the shock of the new quickly fades into familiarity and indifference. It’s only by taking a period snapshot and comparing it with the past that we can see how the world has changed. “A History of the Future in 100 Objects” takes a hundred snapshots across a century, each one examining a single item, from a single time, in detail. Who made it? Where did it come from? What does it mean? How can it transform the world?
The exhibit includes a selection of objects from Adrian Hon’s book – from which the collaboration draws its name – paired with Chen Xi’s representations of possible futures, articulating stories of exploration, life and death, love and war, science and faith, despair and hope. With its written stories and multimedia works, it is simultaneously concrete and abstract—like the future itself. The project addresses what it means to be human in a century within which humanity has never mattered more. And like all science fiction, it’s about the hopes and fears we have today.
Adrian Hon is co-founder and CEO at Six to Start, creators of gamelike stories and story-like games including the world’s bestselling smartphone fitness game, “Zombies, Run!” with over three million players. Six to Start's clients have included Disney, the BBC, Channel 4, and Penguin, and the company has won multiple awards including Best of Show at SXSW.
Adrian is author of A History of the Future in 100 Objects, and has written a column about technology for the Telegraph. His work has been displayed at MOMA, Design Museum, and the V&A Museum, and he has spoken at the Serpentine Gallery, TED, Google, and the British Museum. Adrian originally trained as a neuroscientist and experimental psychologist at Cambridge, UCSD, and Oxford.