We don't have a time machine (that we know of—yet), but we can still get a theoretical idea about what our civilization might look like post-man thanks to French artist Gregory Chatonsky's new Beijing exhibition, Telofossils II. Chatonsky, with collaborator, Dominique Sirois, gathered everyday objects while walking around the Chinese city, scanned them with Kinect sensors and photogrammetry, and turned the results into hauntingly realistic "fossils." "Fossilization is the work of the time," Chatonsky tells The Creators Project—and so, thus, is their own fossilization process.
The duo fills the aformentioned 3D-scanned molds with coal, minerals, rare earth elements, and more. "We tried to imagine what would be found in the soil when the land is returned to its minerality. A bit like Pompeii," Chatonsky explains. When the mold sets in the shape of a hard drive, a shoe, or any of the other familiar items they "fossilized," it forces us to consider not only our own mortality, but that of the entire human race.
"Telofossils is a speculative fiction on the disappearance of the human species. We are confident that our species, like all other species, will disappear. We do not know when, but we know that it will happen," Chatonsky predicts, bleakly. "By anticipating our demise, we step back, we put away our lives. Telofossils does not consider the bright future of technology and innovation, but sees it as something old, dead, gone. The future becomes an old and nostalgic idea."
The fossils themselves are reminiscent of artist Daniel Arsham's brand of "future archaology," but they represent a completely different philosophical path from Arsham's concept of the future as "a dream, a vision of things possible made from a mixture of the present and the past, and a projection of our hopes and fears." Chatonsky's experience with digital mediums might account for the totality of this ideology: "I come from net art and post-digital, so it was logical to imagine digital archeology, immediate obsolescence, the permanent disappearance of objects that are replaced by other objects," he says. He explains that Sirois' research into the archeology of consumption backs up his artistic sensibilities. "Maybe we see things around us as already extinct and that's why we see art everywhere."
Telofossils II is the continuation of a previous exhibit at MoCA Taipei, encompasing several other series than the titular sculptures themselves. Laocoon II features objects fossilized differently from the rough, concrete-like edges of Telofossils, Tombée II features tapestries printed with glitchy rearranged photos, and Landfill is a video installation that imagines the planet as barren and as grey as the surface of the moon. There's that and more, including sound designer Christophe Charles' music, composed to create "an atmosphere to immerse visitors in a world where they have disappeared."
Telofossils II will be on display at the Unicorn Art Center in Beijing through May 25, and the Wuhan Museum from May 30 - June 30. Check out more pictures of Chatonsky and Sirois' Telofossils II below and on the project's website.