About this event

Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta
6 March – 26 May
Daily 12noon -9pm

Imagine a city of the future isolated from the wider environment where humans have become self-sufficient. Food, energy, medicine is all derived from human origin and man-made biological systems. Outside of the Isoculture city the environment has become a ‘no-go’ land to help it recover from widespread human impact. In terms of their impact on the planet, humans have disappeared.

Watermans is pleased to present ISOCULTURE by Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta, our major gallery project for 2013 that redesigns the city as a closed system where humans are entirely self-sustaining.

Read an interview with the artists in Imperica here

Dates: 6 March – 26 May 2013

Isoculture is looking at a city of the future isolated from the wider environment where humans become self-efficient.  Food, energy, medicine, for example, is derived from human origin and man-made biological systems. Outside of the Isoculture city, the environment becomes a ‘no-mans’ land.

The creative investigation prepares inhabitants of the city to live in isolation from the wider environment. The artists created an Isoculture laboratory in the gallery to consider how new science and technology might prepare us to live in hostile environments or travel on long space missions. These two scenarios predict the future application of an Isoculture lifestyle besides the current need to limit human impact on Earth.

Underpinning all of the work are the questions: Can we truly live in isolation from our environment? If we were to trial an Isoculture city, what would the experience of living in this city-scale experiment be like? How will the city, the societal systems and human inhabitants be transformed?

Burton Nitta’s work addresses these questions to value our current relationship with the environment on profound new levels. Their speculative Isoculture proposals foresee the challenges ahead with our human limits when considering long distance space travel or mass biodiversity loss.

Isoculture is a collaborative project by Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta as part of their ongoing investigation called After Agri: http://www.burtonnitta.co.uk/isoculture andhttp://www.burtonnitta.co.uk/afteragri.html

You can read an interview with the artists on Impericahere: http://www.imperica.com/in-conversation-with/the-isoculture-show

Project Participation

During the project, we transformed the Watermans gallery into the Isoculture laboratory where the artists met weekly with a group of professionals to conduct experiments and plan the future of the culture.

The Isoculture lab included a series of discussions with experts leading research that creates new possibilities for an Isoculture future.

Isoculture Lab members:

Alan Outten

Maria Claudia Bada

Ryan Neil

Prudence Djajadi

Paris Selinas

Elisa Fusi


Dr. Amer Rana
Lecturer in Regenerative Medicine, The British Heart Foundation University, University of Cambridge


Ian Martin
Horticulturist at Eden Project

Dr. Alex Salam
Infectious Diseases and  Extreme Environment Doctor, Member of NASA’s Behavioural Health and
Performance Working Group and NASA’s Habitable Volume Community of Practice, Former European Space Agency Spaceflight Medicine Research MD 2008-2009

Dr. Regina Peldszus
Design Researcher, Human Technology Interaction in Space& Extreme Environments


About the artists

Michael Burton

Michael works on the edge of speculative design, arts, and as a researcher. He creates objects, images and films as insights into richly imagined scenarios exploring the choices we face in our evolution as a species and in redesigning life itself. Michael exhibits and presents internationally, most notably including work shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on tour at various galleries in Australia and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art. He leads a collaborative practice, working with organisations and individuals including scientists, performers, choreographers, designers and architects.www.michaelburton.co.uk

Michiko Nitta

Michiko is a multimedia designer graduated from the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. She has subsequently exhibited her work in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt in Berlin and the V&A in London. Michiko has a number of publications to her name, spoken at conferences in the UK, US and China, currently working as a designer for artistic & commercial projects. A key theme that underlies her work is the relationship between nature and humans, often taking extreme vantage on how humans can change their perception to live symbiotically with the nature. www.michikonitta.co.uk

If you would like to know more about Isoculture, please contact Irini Papadimitriou, irini (at) watermans.org.uk

Book Your Tickets


Click here to find full details for those with access requirements.

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