Survival Machines

Interactice 6DOF VR installation for Oculus Quest2,  2023

Dancers: Melli Müller, Roberta Pupotto
Music: Jean Delouvroy


The VR project "X-Genesis: Survival Machines" presents a series of speculative hybrid species that have emerged from neophytes due to global warming and bio-globalization. As visitors immerse themselves in the landscape these plants and animals now inhabit, they can witness these incredible species in close-up and receive additional information such as their names,special characteristics, their evolved mechanisms of survival, their sources of food, reproductive habits etc.

Examples for the featured invasive species arethe Himalayan balsam, the tree of heaven, popularly called "ghetto palm", or the giant hogweed. Some hybrids featured in “Survival Machines” have developed muscles in order to move faster towards water sources and in the process learned to walk. The clumsy first movements of the Himalayan Balsam shown in the VR piece are depicted with the help of a dancer, using motion capture.

The global movement of goods and people have allowed many alien species to gain a foothold in our country. Due to certain species characteristics such as high seed production, strong growth or tolerance to disturbances and undemanding site conditions, invasive species can usually spread very rapidly. They also often adapt more quickly to a new environment. Much can be derived from these "uncanny conquerors" and their outstanding pioneer characteristics for future species that will have to cope with the hardships of climate change. In my work, I try to sketch a picture of our native nature in a speculative future with humans evolved and genetically merged with other species to new hybrids more capable of survival. The title of the work "Survival Machines" refers to a term used in the classic book by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene". Dawkins attributes the entire development of life to the selection of genes that were able to make the most copies of themselves. In the course of evolution, these would have created increasingly sophisticated "survival machines" in the form of plant or animal (including human) bodies. My VR project aims to illustrate a utopian landscape where, like in a giant collider, genes, floating through space, fuse and disconnect, creating constantly new species in the process.

“Survival Machines” was created with a work scholarship during the “invite2innovate” residency 2022 at the research institute of the Deutsche Museum, Munich.