Heavy Duty Love for Future Sensitive Humans
The boundary-pushing artist continues her visual & visceral examination of the science, ethics and experience of genetic engineering and our evolving bodies
Technology and touch at the centre of an installation exploring the comfort of the embrace — fuelling important dialogue on the complex future realities of human connection
Acclaimed science-fiction artist and body architect Lucy McRae is invited to Biennale Architettura 2021, curated by Hashim Sarkis, exhibiting Heavy Duty Love — an immersive, working prototype exploring the imminent realities, and challenges, of engineering both the human body and human condition.
A cautionary narrative in an uncomfortable, complex debate on the scientific acceleration directing our evolutionary path —from gene-edited babies to CRISPR to AI — Heavy Duty Love is a mental health prop existent as a tactile mechanical structure, asking, “As we head toward a life designed from scratch, will we seek new types of intimacy?” Realised as a speculative domestic device compensating for a lack of human touch in early life, Heavy Duty Love sandwiches the body between layers of soft, dampening materials normally used in contemporary camping or construction. In McRae’s envisioning, just one of many sponge-like machines created to form trust and connection by replicating the protective embrace of a parent or womb, missing by virtue of lab-grown origins.
Merging this complexity with the familiar, McRae will also bring science to the street level, extending the Heavy Duty Love project through a ready-to-wear fashion label, Future Sensitive Human — an accompanying consumer range again fabricated with mental health in mind, designed to transmit strength through sensitivity.
Lucy McRae explains, “I made this machine because I am curious about the human consequences of bypassing the womb and that first hug of a “mother” — envisioning a new generation of children having radically different formative years, developing new types of sensitivities and neurobiological quirks. Heavy Duty Love questions whether these future sensitive humans will find new ways for intimacy and togetherness. More broadly, my work wants to connect the public with the main bulk of science and biotech, cracking open the debate around how these God-like technologies will change what makes us human forevermore.”
Heavy Duty Love will be on display in the Arsenale as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale, which takes place from 22 May to 21 November 2021.
About Biennale Architettura 2021 / La Biennale di Venezia has been for over 120 years one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. Established in 1895, it has an attendance today of over 500,000 visitors at the International Art Exhibition. The history of La Biennale di Venezia dates back from 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was organized. In the 1930s new festivals were born: Music, Cinema, and Theatre (the Venice International Film Festival in 1932 was the first film festival in history). In 1980 the first International Architecture Exhibition took place, and in 1999 Dance made its.
BIO/ A pioneer blurring the boundaries across art, architecture, technology and design, British-born Australian Lucy McRae has a finely tuned ability to imagine other ways of being and, crucially, other possibilities for how human biology might be augmented by a mixture of physical design, modification of genes and emotions. Examining the way science is transforming the body, McRae’s prophetic aesthetic is flung far from archetypal tropes – creating nostalgia for a future about to happen – using art as a mechanism to signal and provoke our ideologies and ethics about who we are and where we are headed. McRae has worked with several global scientific and cultural organisations and institutions including MIT, Ars Electronica, NASA, TED, Cannes, and Tribeca Film Festival, with selected major artworks exhibited at Science Museum London, Centre Pompidou, and the Triennale Milano. McRae is a visiting professor at SCI_Arc in Los Angeles and is recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Heavy Duty Love. Commissioned by La Biennale Di Venezia
Curated by Hashim Sarkis
Curatorial team – Gabriel Kozlowski, Roi Salgueiro and Ala Tannir
Supported by – SCI_Arc and Creative Victoria
Artist – Lucy McRae
Studio Assistant – Christian Pepper
Production Design – Tina Joyner
Technical Director/ System Design – Steven Joyner
Custom Soft Goods/ Wearables – Lucy McRae
Graphic Design – Lucy McRae, Christian Pepper
Art/ Creative Direction – Lucy McRae
Studio Assistant – Christian Pepper
Photography – Brian Overend
Art Department – Christian Pepper, Vivian Charlesworth, Yun Ki Cheung, Miriam Kuhlmann, Ian Wong
Producer – Nina Tahash
Cast – Samantha West, Cathy Cooper, Rhoda Pell, Vee Kumari, Audrey Levan, Lucy McRae
Makeup/Hair – Mike Fernandez
Stylist – Amiee Byrne
Special thanks to Alice Parker, Jasmine Albuquerque, Scottie Cameron, Ryan Carmody and Gabriel Kozlowski