One Possible Explanation for Fermi Paradox

The Fermi paradox is a conflict between the argument that scale and probability seem to favour intelligent life being common in the universe, and the total lack of evidence of intelligent life having ever arisen anywhere other than on Earth. In collaboration with Lisa Zhang, we created an immersive interactive installation to explore our loneliness as an intelligent species. Do alien civilizations exist? Where are they? Why can't we hear them?

YEAR
2019
Client
/Han Art Gallery Beijing
My Role
/Installation Artist /Video Producer

Where is everybody?

When you look at the stars sparkling at the night sky, you may want to ask.

Night sky
Where is everybody? Are we lonely in this endless universe?

You're not the only one who ever questioned this.

Even if intelligent life occurs on only a minuscule percentage of planets around these stars, there might still be a great number of extant civilizations, and if the percentage were high enough it would produce a significant number of extant civilizations in the Milky Way. But where is everybody?

In the summer of 1950 at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico,  Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi also asked this question to his co-workers in a casual lunchtime conversation. Thus, Fermi Paradox refers to the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial civilizations and various high estimates for their probability.

We want an answer.

So we started our journey by exploring existing theories about Fermi Paradox. There are many different explanations like the rarity of intelligent life, evolutionary explanations, sociological explanations, economic explanations and so on.

Infographic - @Futurism

Our hypothesis

Statement 1: Aliens widely exist in this university.
Statement 2: They already sent messages to the Earth.
Statement 3: We just can't understand them.

Brainstorming

Now we have our theme, how might we show our idea to the visitors in this new media art gallery? Photography, video, painting or installation?

After researching some great new media artworks worldwide, we decided to use lights, sounds, and visual effects to create an immersive experience.

Some of our favourite new media art shows

We send out greetings to the universe with the fear of being alone. But unfortunately, all information from other intelligent creatures is not understandable for us. We want to create a space with immersive audiovisual effects where our visitors can experience this loneliness vividly.

Our Installation Mindmap

Visual Storyboard

The video

Installation Planning

In the initial planning, we envisioned two different experiences for visitors. In the first scheme, visitors shall lie down on a matt and watch the projected content on the curtain. In the second one, visitors will sit and watch the TV screen.

We then combine two designs: a projector to create a starfield effect and the TV to show a high-quality video.

Workflow

Development

We developed some interactive functions with C# on Unity.

Exhibition Preparation

The list of materials for the installation

We were building up our installation and testing it out.

Poster design

Final Output and Exhibition

The exhibition turned out to be a big success. People lined up in front of our installation. Many visitors said our artwork was "inspiring, out of expectation, and mind-blowing".

Meet the team: Lisa(L) and me(R)

Thank you for reading.