September 25, 2012
T-GAB THE WASTE CONSUMER
We’ve been running a series of events at the fantastic Superhuman exhibition this month at the Wellcome Collection. With the help of a scientist and an illustrator, we have asked our audiences to design their own superhero with genetic and technological enhancements in response to a futuristic scenario.
So far we’ve produced eight fantastical, bizarre and in some cases hilarious stories that we’ll be posting over the next week. Here’s the sixth installment. We hope you enjoy the products of our audience’s collective imagination, and perhaps can join us for the last event in the series on 26 September from 2-5pm.
Our storytellers were asked to imagine the following:
In 2033, faced with dwindling energy and food supplies, the United Nations agree to implement a global one child policy in a last ditch effort to bring human population growth under control. In many countries, so-called ‘designer babies’ become commonplace, with parents using genetic technology to create offspring that can fulfill all their hopes and dreams. Governments also begin to offer financial incentives for creating children that have a low environmental impact – so-called ‘eco babies’.
You are a prospective parent visiting a reproductive clinic. Choose three genetic enhancements that will make your child as little of a burden on the environment as possible.
Our storytellers decided that the perfect eco-baby would be telepathic, so it would be able to communicate without mobile phones (thus saving both energy and the use of rare earth metals); have an enormous frontal lobe (so it would exhibit a high level of self control and not be an impulsive shopper); and – perhaps most eco-sensible – would be engineered to eat garbage, both cutting down on his resource needs, as well as helping to reduce the overflowing piles of rubbish that humanity creates.
Thus was born T-GAB, for Telepathic-Garbage-eating-and-Brainy.
The Plot: T-GAB at first happily munches on garbage, fulfilling his eco destiny. But he was not to remain content with his lot. A teenager – broody and hormonal – he starts to resent his fate. He decides to use his telepathic powers to force all the normal humans around him to also eat garbage, and suffer as he suffers. Everywhere, people slowly become demented – the neurotoxic effects of consuming the heavy metals in mobile phones and computers. In a destructive, maddened, zombie-like tornado, they tear down their own cities – in fact, fulfilling T-GAB’s destiny as eco-warrior and saviour of the earth. Civilisation is undone, and everyone dies – except for T-GAB. Alone on the earth, he is crowned King of the Elephants, who not only can communicate with him telepathically and feel affectionate towards him on account of his enhanced frontal lobe, but in fact feel great gratitude towards him for finally doing away with their arch enemies: The Piano Makers.
Storytellers: Lyssa Johnson, Yury Kirdyushkin, David Young, Trudi Pickin, Matthew Dalziel, and David Shewry.
Scientist: Ed Bracey, PhD student in sensory neuroscience at University College London.
Illustrator: Thomas Kean