Gasworks presents Future Tropics, the first UK solo exhibition by Amsterdam-based Singaporean artist Kent Chan. Chan uses film, sound, and installation to consider the relationship between climate and culture, and its ramifications on society. In Future Tropics, he inserts a microclimate into the gallery space alongside new and existing moving-image works that speculate on the tropical imaginary and the context, politics, and aesthetics of heat.
In his new spatial installation, Monsoons, a series of humidifiers and heat lamps are dispersed around the gallery space. Mimicking the hot and humid climatic conditions of the tropics, they turn on and off, recreating seasonal shifts of weather. These climactic devices upend the traditional climate-control systems of Western museums, where cool and dry conditions are imperative, and where order and systems reign. Under a warm hue of yellow light an endless summer lingers. Days and nights, geographies, histories, and cultures all blur into one.
These conditions are narrated in Future Tropics (2023), a new film by Chan that speculates upon the ramifications of earth’s warming and consequent loss of climate variation. The film pushes observations of tropical expansion to their extreme ends. It follows fictional characters as they explore future societies and environs, ultimately asking the questions “if the entire world turned tropical, what would it mean to have an Old and New Tropics? How would our global culture and geopolitical relations be reshaped in a mono-climatic world?”
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The tropics are expanding, they cover almost 40% of the Earth’s surface area, and by 2050 more than half of the world’s population will live there. Future Tropics situates this zone within a future tense, a place of possibility and imagination, at-odds with the global narrative of the region being behind and out-of-time. Chan’s prescient work expands our geoclimatic imagination as we move towards a post-climatic world.