No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818.
Within a century or even a few decades, genetic engineering and other forms of biological engineering might enable us to make far-reaching alterations not only to our physiology, immune system, but also to our intellectual and emotional capacities.
Yuval Harari, Homo Deus, 2016.
Mary Shelley’s Future Shocks, devised in collaboration with BAC at a Scratch night in March, 2018, brings together the Romantic, epic words of Frankenstein with Yuval Harari’s vision of the future presented in his best-seller Homo Deus: a world of artificial sentience created by Big Data, driven by a quest for bio-technical immortality. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein’s publication in 1818- the world’s first sci-fi novel – the piece bends time between the revolutionary era of Mary Shelley’s teenage-hood as the creature forms in her mind and a future date decades from now, where biological ‘upgrading’ and multiple virtual selves are the everyday. Accompanying the projected illustrations of past and future Mary Shelley by illustrator Julia de Graaf are cinematic interludes from sci-fi, horror and surrealist films of the 1920s, 30s and 40s including Metropolis and films by Maya Deren and Jean Cocteau. In front of the screen, a harp player, string player, percussionist and vocalist augment the dream-like journey with a live score with vocal sound effects.