September 2012, Wellcome Collection, London
Technology has already changed what it means to be human, allowing us to defy our biological limits in countless ways. With prosthetic limbs and stem cell therapies developing at speed, what will the humans of the future look like? What kinds of genetic, neurological and robotic enhancements will they possess?
These were the questions we grappled with in September 2012, when we brought illustrators together with three scientists who work on research with superhuman potential, to create a participatory storytelling event for audiences at the Wellcome Collection’s fantastic Superhuman exhibition.
During a one-hour workshop, the audience were seated around a table and asked to select one of four cards, which each described a different futuristic scenario – from a mission into deep space to a covert trip to the Arctic circle. Responding to each scenario the audience were asked to design a superhuman character who would be perfectly adapted to their future fictional world.
With a little help from their “scientific advisor”, the audience then took their superhuman on a journey, while our illustrators brought the story to life using the format of a six-frame comic strip, depicting the often remarkable products of our audience’s collective imagination in wonderful detail.
During the workshop, the audience learned about ground-breaking research from Sarah Sydney on hip and limb replacements; Matthew Smart on the use of stem cells to treat blindness; and from Eugene Schuster, who studies worms, mice and humans to understand how we can use genetic tweaks to boost our lifespan.