The Institute of Isolation — Experimenta

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Lucy McRae
The Institute of Isolation

Australia & United Kingdom


What happens on a mission to Mars when four people are travelling for decades in a very, very small space? What physiological and mental impacts will these harsh environments have on the bodies of those who spend more permanent time in space?

The Institute of Isolation is an observational documentary that contemplates whether isolation, or extreme experience, might be used as a gateway to training human resilience.Set in a near future reality, The Institute of Isolation is a fictional research and training ground, offering alternative methods to condition the body and adapt fundamental aspects of human biology. The film references genetic engineering, space travel, sensory deprivation and the changing relationship the body is forming with technology. If the body can be resolved in an environment of isolation, would we be more resilient, faster to adapt and more buoyant when faced with the obstacles of life beyond Earth’s edge?

The film’s protagonist (played by artist Lucy McRae) moves through a series of sensory chambers, spending time in an anechoic chamber examining the psychoacoustics of silence, and in a microgravity trainer conditioning the body for possible life in space. These fictional locations are used to make architectural inquiries into the role buildings could have on altering human biology on an evolutionary scale.


The Institute of Isolation was commissioned by Ars Electronica and SPARKS with the support of Kew Gardens.

The Artist
Lucy McRae

Lucy McRae is a sci-fi artist, film director and body architect, placing the human body in complex, futuristic scenarios that confound the boundaries between the natural and artificial.

Artwork Journey