Perfection is a bit perplexing. It sits at the intersection of the impartial, the personal and the unobtainable. It can be exact numbers, balanced symmetry and precise engineering. But it can also be the aesthetics of how to write an outline for an informative essayart, an obsession, a deception and a way of thinking. Yet despite the myriad of definitions, the ultimate non-existence of perfection seems a constant.  We are therefore left questioning why are we striving for something that may not actually exist?

“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist…..Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist”

― Stephen Hawking

PERFECTIONbusiness case study writing service emerged from a conversation about our utopian desire for a perfect future. A positive desire to change ourselves and our lives to be everything that we want them to be. And as our understanding of the world advances with each new generation, we become tantalisingly, or indeed, terrifyingly, closer to reaching a ‘theory of everything’, immortality and singularity. Utopian concepts for some of us, dystopian for others. By holding up a mirror to our own ideals, PERFECTION reflects ever-changing ideas of scientific precision, psychological perfectionism and perfect imperfection.

How far will we go in our quest for perfection?

Increasingly we are viewing our lives through a perfected digital lens. Flawless social media accounts flaunt perfectly photo-filtered lives to the world. The Boost Project by Ant Hamlyn and Womanhours by Tyler Payne explore these social pressures of perfectionism. Is the perfect avatar an over-inflated ego of endless social media ‘likes’ or the bikini waxed and fake-tanned body spotlessly manicured for a selfie?

At the same time, the rise of A.I. and algorithms is making our lives easier as they make multiple daily decisions for us. Facial recognition technologies can now determine someone’s mental wellbeing, and more controversially, a person’s sexuality or political preference. But how perfect are these algorithms we seem so happily to trust? Biometric Mirror by artist Lucy McRae and computer scientists Niels Wouters and Nick Smith taps into our insecurities, by allowing our faces to be biometrically assessed and then stretched and modified to meet the ideals of a Hollywood plastic surgeon. And with news headlines announcing sex robots ‘will be in hundreds of homes within a year’ and will make men, not women, obsolete’, the idea of robots as sexual partners is a hot topic of conversation. As we walk the road ever closer to reaching the tipping point of singularity, will robots be our perfect companions of the future? Harmony by Matt McMullen, which is one of the world’s most advanced sex robots, certainly thinks so.

Yet if digital perfection is possible, why not the physical? Our bodies can now be surgically snipped and enhanced and our genes edited to transform ourselves into new improved versions of our former selves. ORLAN famously had numerous surgeries in Omnipresence to attain the beauty portrayed in classic western artworks.  But what if you want to change the colour of your eyes or skin? If legislation is ethically relaxed, then CRISPR Cas 9 technology will soon allow you to do so.  This advanced form of genetic engineering is about to revolutionize medical treatments and has the potential to cosmetically change people’s appearances. Genetics Gym SS18 by Adam Peacock peels back the layers of our genetic code and consumer psychology, and presents a future where our physical traits constantly change every few months. Jaden Hastings’ The Demiurge places these changes firmly into the hands of an A.I., while also opening the Pandora’s box of biohacking. This is citizen science at its extreme. Our bodies modified, merged and microchipped in our own kitchens.

We are now entering a new utopian/dystopian future. From Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed to Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge, our visions of perfect new societies have been a constant desire. This is the realm of science fiction and creative ideals. A world of making things ‘better’. Yiyun Chen’s Sick Better opens our minds to a speculative perfect world for our aging population and Andy Gracie’s Fish Plant Rack v.2 is a future ecotopia where technology helps balance ecological systems and maintains biodiversity. Our future can certainly be a positive one if we want it to be.

But what is the underlying reason we can transform our world into our own utopias? Driving this advancement is our insatiable pursuit of scientifically understanding the world we live in. Our First Nations peoples, so attuned and connected to nature, carefully observed the world’s astrological and biological cycles with a deep knowledge and understanding. This is strongly seen in the avian connections of Corvid by Wiradjuri sound artist Naretha Williams. Mathematical precision is the closest science gets to perfection and has been crucial for discovering the laws of physics that explain everything from bosons and fermions to supernovas. Numbers also define Maxwell’s equations that dictate the universe’s light waves, as explored in Symmetries of Light by Cristina Fiordimela, Freddy Paul Grunert and Fabrizio Tamburini and the underlying symmetry of Marcus Volz’s Collatz Sequence and Lorenz Attractor. These equations that so precisely describe the reoccurring patterns and symmetries of space take us closer to a ‘theory of everything’, which Stephen Hawking, like so many others, continued to search for throughout his life.

It was also Hawking who championed the importance of imperfection. This imperfection is the genetic diversity of biology so cleverly displayed by Morphotheque #15 by Erwin Driessen & Maria Verstappen and our own ‘imperfections’ that are revealed as we compete with the digital music synthesizer of Wave Machine by Samantha and Michael Vilkins and the computer screen of O by XORXOR. Our different levels of skill make us unique. It is this uniqueness, our variations, that make us all perfectly imperfect rather than identical clones.

It is rather fitting that two hundred years since Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’ that Science Gallery Melbourne has chosen to explore the realms of PERFECTION for our second pop-up exhibition. Through Shelley’s imagination, Frankenstein’s monster is created through chemistry and alchemy, all the while raising questions about the scientific quest for perfection and our endeavour to perfectly understand and re-create everything.

A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquility. I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule.

― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Like Mary Shelley’s ‘monster’, PERFECTION is an exhibition that is far from ‘perfect’. Rather it is a creative collision of scientific experimentation and artistic expression. This is an exhibition that holds up a mirror of self-reflection and allows us to see the benefits and challenges of the imperfect/perfect dichotomy. In doing so, one thing’s for sure, it will leave you questioning your own ideas of what ‘perfect’ means.

 

Dr Ryan Jefferies

Head of Programs, Science Gallery Melbourne