A couple of weeks ago I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Midwest UX conference. Like most conferences, there were great talks on the topic, but this one was interesting in that attendees got to see a lot of the host city’s attractions as a part of the conference program.
One of the local features that held my attention after the conference was Stephen Hendee‘s installation titled “The Last People” at SiTE:LAB’s 54Jeff, a former public museum turned art-space, where the conference held it’s Friday night gala.
Hendee seems to be into the idea of future past. The premise of this particular piece is that in the distant future, intelligent machines have taken the place of human civilization, and created a museum of their own history. This premise seems to be a theme, as one of his earlier works, The Ice Next Time: Textiles and Artifacts of Dark Age North America (2026-2280), depicts historic artifacts from the early times of a fictional future.
I like the story angle. It seems like it would be fun to write a bit of sci-fi as the exploratory part of a design project. But beyond that, I really like the look of the machines in The Last People. By appearances, I would guess that they are all just cut coroplast held together with vinyl tape. Lights inside of them provide the eerie glow. Admittedly, I like the multifacet paneled ones more than the simpler rectangular ones. I suppose the complexity of the shapes indicate the level of advancement of the machine civilization. I didn’t really catch that when I initially saw it.
A cool and inspiring piece. Check out more of Stephen’s work: