Melbourne gallery investigates the science of perfection


An exhibition combines science, maths, robotics and art, with startling results.


Harmony the robot, one of the star turns at the Melbourne exhibition.

Harmony the robot, one of the star turns at the Melbourne exhibition.

Nicole Cleary

Australia’s University of Melbourne School of Design has been transformed by event organisers Science Gallery Melbourne for a new provocative exhibition, called PERFECTION.

The show hosts 22 artworks from Australian and international artists, scientists, designers, surgeons, musicians, architects, psychologists and mathematicians.

Their interpretations cover all things, from the precise mathematics behind natural phenomena to using artificial intelligence to achieve ecological balance.

In a world of Instagram selfies and Twitter followers, many of the works question why we strive for the perfect body image and social media persona.

From envisioning a world without war, to the potential rise of genetic engineering technology and biohacking to design our ideal selves, and dating fully-customisable sex robots, the works immerse visitors in the multiple potential pathways our pursuit of perfection may take us in the future.

Dubbed by the organisers “part experiment/part exhibition”, PERFECTION encourages visitors not to simply observe the artworks but to participate and reflect on what perfection, and imperfection, mean to them. That could be in the form a silent reflection, or a conversation with one of the gallery’s mediators – or with Harmony, the sex robot who officially opened the gallery on Thursday 13 September.

Interactive works, virtual reality games, videos, sound installations produced from DNA sequences, and more take visitors on a utopian versus dystopian rollercoaster of what it means to pursue perfection in an imperfect world.

One of the interactive works, Biometric Mirror, has participants enter a futuristic beauty salon where an AI performs a psychometric facial analysis. An algorithm, based on the Marquardt Beauty Mask developed by the plastic surgeon of the same name, then generates their mathematically ‘perfect’ face. But whose perfection is it?

Science Gallery Melbourne is part of a global university-linked network of galleries leading the STEM-to-STEAM movement by engaging the public, particularly young adults, in cutting-edge science through art.

The gallery will become a permanent Melbourne fixture in 2020 as part of a new innovation precinct, Carlton Connect, being built just north of the city’s central business district. Until then, the gallery will run in pop-up mode with PERFECTION being their second exhibition program. BLOOD: Attract & Repel, the first, ran in August and September of last year and saw nearly 17,000 visitors through its doors.

PERFECTION is a free event that will run from Tuesday to Saturday between 12 and 6pm until November 3.

Explore #robotics #Art
Vhairi Mackintosh is a scientific educator, writer and researcher based in Melbourne who holds a PhD in earth sciences.
  1. https://melbourne.sciencegallery.com/mediators
  2. https://melbourne.sciencegallery.com/
  3. https://melbconnect.com.au/
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