Virtual Design Festival

VDF collaboration with Lucy McRae launches with screening of The Institute of Isolation

On 9th July, Virtual Design Festival teamed up with artist Lucy McRae, starting with a screening of her short film The Institute of Isolation, which explores how architecture could help the human body evolve to survive long-distance space travel.

Set in a near-future reality, the 2016 movie features McRae as the protagonist at a "fictional research and training ground, offering alternative methods to condition the body and adapt fundamental aspects of human biology," according to the artist. Watch the trailer above.

Lucy McRae in The Institute of Isolation
Lucy McRae stars as the protagonist in The Institute of Isolation, which is being screened as part of VDF

The film references space travel, genetic engineering and the changing relationship the body forms with technology, depicting sensory chambers to explore the role buildings could play in altering human biology on an evolutionary scale.

"It's a continuation from my curiosity into space travel and human evolution," McRae told Dezeen in 2016. "How do we survive when we exit Earth?"

The Los Angeles-based artist is fascinated by the interaction between the human body and technology and has previously told Dezeen that she wants to give science fiction an overdue sex change.

Ricardo Bofill's La Fabrica
La Fabrica, Ricardo Bofill's home and workplace, features in the film

Shot in locations including the treetop walkway in Kew Gardens, London, and architect Ricardo Bofill's La Fabrica, a repurposed cement factory in Barcelona, the film features futuristic designs including a spacesuit that McRae made together with a National Opera costume designer.

The film was originally commissioned for a residency at Arts Electronica and has also been screened at the Science Museum in London.

Lucy McRae in The Institute of Isolation
The Institute of Isolation references space travel and genetic engineering

Lucy McRae's collaboration with Virtual Design Festival also saw the artist unveil a brand new art project. The Solitary Survival Raft is a conceptual survival raft that looks at ideas of how to remedy isolation, a theme that McRae has been focusing on for years.

McRae, whose work revolves around using the body as a means to speculate on the future, also took part in a live conversation with Dezeen founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs.

Among her previous projects are a survival kit for a post-apocalyptic future and a hugging machine that was conceived as a solution to a time when the influx of technology has begun to affect people's wellbeing.

In 2014, Dezeen commissioned McRae to create an artwork that explored how the human body could be prepared for space travel, a theme that she returns to in The Institute of Isolation.