For Come Up To My Room 2016, Jessica Bromley Bartram brings a post-apocalyptic future to one of the Gladstone’s rooms. It all starts with a biotech company that sets out to do good in 2025 but ends up destroying the world, with a company collapse by 2074. The sci-fi world is complete with a full-length book (that Bartram wrote and designed for the project!), company annual reports, marketing evidence and artifacts from the era, and an interdisciplinary installation that’ll make you feel like you just read Brave New World, within the space of an art gallery.
Video by Sarah Cornthwaite
Tell us about the Rise and Fall of Cordycepts.
Cordycepts is a biotech company founded in the future (2025) with a utopian vision of repairing the damage humans have done to the world. It sells technologies that solve problems but they do this by creating products using an organic code designed by the company. For example, they revert ecosystems back to how they were before humans destroyed them. The nature comes back but it isn’t natural. It’s too perfect.
What will your room be like at Come Up To My Room?
It’s an exhibit that’s held after the company has collapsed. The people left are trying to make sense of what they’ve done and how to move forward post-Cordycepts. The room features two large-scale products from the Cordycepts era, a stop-motion video describing the catastrophe, marketing materials, a wall of artifacts from the labs and ephemera (preserved anatomical specimens, toys that were marketed to kids, anatomical drawings etc). And I’ll be there as the official tour guide!
How has sci-fi inspired your work?
I love sci-fi. One of my favourite books is Brave New World. As first when you’re reading it, you’re like, “Hey this world is kinda creepy but it’s alright. They seem happy.” But then as you get into it, you realize everything is wrong. I wanted the Rise and Fall of Cordycepts to reflect this. I love how sci-fi deals with “what ifs” – it mirrors the modern worlds and then exaggerates it to what it could be like one day.
What part of our world are you mirroring for this exhibit?
I’m taking a critical look at capitalism and corporations. The project is inspired by current corporations doing green marketing and undertaking faulty “green missions”.
My thesis professor Lewis Nicholson from OCAD really encouraged us to make our projects critical and embrace critical design. Art can be more than just aesthetics; it can say something about society. I started The Rise and Fall of Cordycepts while studying design and illustration at OCAD, and the project went on to win the medal for graphic design at last year’s OCAD Graduate Exhibition, which was pretty thrilling!
Very neat that it’s coming back to life for CUTMR. Did you think ever think you’d bring it back after OCAD?
All the way through the project, I kept thinking about how much more was in my head and how much more I wanted to make it into a bigger show. This project has become an entire world in my head!
We can’t wait to step into the Cordycepts universe at Come Up To My Room. It’s living, breathing and larger than life. See you there!