Innovation on show at Melbourne University exhibition

Biometric Mirror. Image credit: Lucy McRae

A new exhibition, Perfection, is affirming our city as an innovative leader in technology.

Expect the unexpected. That’s guaranteed when you view Science Gallery Melbourne’s latest exhibition at the University of Melbourne’s School of Design. It explores everything from quantum physics to dog cloning, city design, body modification, internet dating and Instagram filters, showing how massive leaps in technology are reshaping our world.

Amanda Caples potraitStaging this exhibition in our city reflects just how innovative we are as a community, according to Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Amanda Caples.

“Perfection demonstrates why Melbourne has an international reputation for its culture of innovation, creativity and ideas,” she says. “It brings together artists, musicians, mathematicians, architects, designers, psychologists and surgeons to challenge our social values and question what it means to be human. And it reflects a curious society keen to engage with technology and ideas to contribute to a better future.”

Aimed at 15 to 25-year-olds, the exhibition touches on the moral challenges of technology. For instance, we can surgically modify our bodies, build perfect cities and clone our dogs but with growing cultural pressures to look perfect and live an ideal life, is striving for perfection a positive goal? Or is imperfection what sustains life and creates diversity and difference?

You be the judge. The exhibition runs until Saturday 3 November.

Perfection exhibition highlights:


Artist: Patricia Piccinini
Commissioned by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) to promote road safety, this exhibit explores the body shape required to survive a 30km/h car crash. It was conceived in collaboration with a Royal Melbourne Hospital trauma surgeon and Monash University Accident Research Centre.

Graham by Patricia Piccinini

Biometric Mirror

Artists: Lucy McRae, Dr Niels Wouters and Nick Smith
Examining facial recognition, participants enter a futuristic sci-fi beauty salon and have their biometric data scanned by AI, revealing a mathematically ‘perfect’ version of their own face based on the ideals of the Marquardt mask, developed by a Hollywood plastic surgeon. Whose version of perfection is it?

Sculpture of perfect version of the artists face

Formation V

Artist: Baden Pailthorpe
Using an Afghanistan war simulator developed with the US military, Formation V explores the machine-like precision of battalion movement of US soldiers and Taliban combatants, raising the question: is humanity becoming disturbingly utopian?

Formation V: Image of soldiers in battle

Wave Machine

Artists: Samantha Vilkins and Michael Vilkins
Is ‘perfect sound’ a human noise or a machine-made noise? Every cello, for example, will sound slightly different to each other, but digital waveforms have the accuracy of mathematical formulas, meaning we can make a waveform to any specification, altering and inventing sound.

Wave machine displaying the digital waverforms


Artist: Matt McMullen
Enter the world of robotic companions. The exhibit, Harmony, communicates via an AI system that includes multiple personalities and a face that will never age. Will more people develop intimate relationships with robots? And what will be the social impact of such companionships?  

People take photo of robotic image of perfect image

Morphoteque 15

Artists: Driessens and Verstappen
This project tackles the human urge for standardisation and rejection of natural diversity in large-scale food production. While natural evolution usually includes multiformity so that a species remains strong and adaptive, industry steers the process in the direction of efficiency and homogeneity.

image of red, green and yellow capsicums in different shapes and sizes

Perfection Exhibition runs until Saturday 3 November 2018.

About Science Gallery  

Science Gallery is the world’s first university-linked network dedicated to public engagement with science and art with six members across four continents: Dublin, London, Melbourne, Bengaluru, Venice and Detroit.

Science Gallery Melbourne hosts a diverse program of exhibitions, performances, events and workshops in pop-up locations across Melbourne; Perfection is the latest.

Visit the Science Gallery website for more information.