Science Museum exhibition explores biotechnology through theatre

You Have Been Upgraded showcases advancements in science and design through a series of interactive displays and performances.

A bebionic prosthetic hand. © RSL Steeper.
A bebionic prosthetic hand. © RSL Steeper.

A festival exploring contemporary advancements by scientists, artists and designers is set to open at the Science Museum this month.

You Have Been Upgraded, a joint venture between the museum and theatre group Unlimited Theatre, uses demonstrations and interactive displays to showcase modern technology in prosthetics, neural implants, brain enhancers and sense augmentation.

The festival will use performance to create a futuristic world based on a fictitious company called Unlimited Enhancement Technologies as a means of presenting the technology.

ALP Anatomical leg. © Omkaar Kotedia.
ALP Anatomical leg. © Omkaar Kotedia.

Theatre set designer Rhys Jarman was part of the team who created the performance space for the event. “We’ve designed the space using equipment often seen in large scale exhibitions,” he says. “We’ve used this to create a theatrical environment, so the space feels familiar to begin with but the ‘show’ is concealed within the entire space. By doing this we should be able to ‘turn on’ the show in a surprising, exciting way.”

Jon Spooner and Hannah Dakin were also involved in set design, while Will Duke focused on video and Katharine Williams on lighting.”We’ve invested a lot of time in video and lighting to really elevate what would otherwise be an exhibition to a futuristic aesthetic,” Jarman says.

Artist Sophie de Oliveira’s venture the Alternative Limb Project will be on display at the festival, presenting her sculpted series of non-conventional artificial limbs, alongside visualisations of the brain’s nerve channels by research teams at Imperial College and Newcastle University, and virtual reality looking at the future of biotechnology.

“The design in many ways is the project itself,” Jarman says. “The public will move through it, interact with it and then experience it – it’s very much creating an immersive environment.”

Brain stimulation demonstration by Oxford University. © Oxford University.
Brain stimulation demonstration by Oxford University. © Oxford University.

The festival forms part of the Who Am I? gallery programme at the museum, which has been funded by the Wellcome Trust and sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline and Life Technologies Foundation.

You Have Been Upgraded runs on 25, 27 and 28-29 March at the Wellcome Wing basement, Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD. Entry is free.

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