2021 ± II: Utopia Broadcasting

2021 ± II: Utopia Broadcasting

Do you believe that the first space colony created by mankind will happen during your lifetime?

Technology has advanced so quickly over the past few years. In the overall scheme of things, we’re just a flash in the pan and yet we’ve done so much to change our planet. Humankind is leaving a profound legacy on Earth, turning it into the sanctuary that we want it to be or perhaps farewelling a paradise that we’ve already lost.

‘2021 ± II: Utopia Broadcasting’ explores themes of futurism, human construction, sheer curiosity, consumerism, as well as the wonders and dangers associated with science. The overall aim of this project is to utilise existing structures within the Icelandic landscape to transport the viewer’s imagination to another world that exists outside of time – one where the conversation unravels questions about dreams for a better life amidst the darker side of human ideals.

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Radio Andromeda

We live in a world of heartbeats, pulsing to the tune of around 8 billion humans and millions of other animals.

Every day, we dance in unison as time ticks by – a wave of motion that ebbs and flows, swallowing the land before retreating into the horizon. Once there, we muster up the energy to surge back the next day and do it all over again.

Together, we contribute figuratively to the idea that we make this world go 'round. In order to do that, we have developed a worldwide network that allows us to exchange information in real time.

If there is one thing that strengthens us as a species, it is our ability to communicate and to stay connected.

Fine art architecture photography of a satellite dish array in Iceland by female landscape photographer, Serena Dzenis.

Over time, we have turned our sights to the cosmos. Despite all of the signals that we've sent out into the Universe, we haven't yet heard any response from what could potentially be our peers in this gigantic, expansive space.

Do you believe we are alone or merely disconnected?

Centurion

Captain’s Log: Stardate 2021.291. This weekend has been busy as we get ready to face the next challenge. I don’t know when it will be but like all great battles, it looms somewhere on the not-so-distant horizon.

The crew has gifted me a scent to mark my 37th year piloting this starship. The first few sprays caught me off-guard and made me feel a little woozy but I’ve quickly mastered the art of the spritz. The perfume now wafts around me like an armour – in close proximity, it’s enough to knock out old foes.

Fine art architecture photography of a satellite dish array in Iceland by female landscape photographer, Serena Dzenis.

While the stardeck is quite open and spacious, we spend our time here in tight quarters, so you can imagine the odours that we learn to live with. I do wonder if the crew were trying to tell me something with this rather interesting choice of a gift. Apparently they picked it up during a recent fly-by of Europa, when we docked at the Galactic Trade Terminal.

There was quite a lot of inter-species chatter in the Terminal about a new tournament that is set to take place soon. I hear that tentacled creatures will be partaking in a series of games based on survival in the harsh unknown. It’s not something that I’m interested in tuning into but if you happen to catch any of it streaming on the space channels, be sure to let me know what you think.

Venus Rising

We are one and the same.

With the exception of a few, every single atom in our bodies already existed when the Earth formed around 4.5 billion years ago. Before they came to be incorporated into us, they were parts of other living things. Some were in plants and animals, such as insects or trees. Some may even have been in dinosaurs.

Sedimentary rocks on Earth contain iron atoms in the form of ore that are mined to create steel and other materials which our species depends upon heavily to survive. These atoms are integral building blocks for complex life on Earth and some scientists believe that where there is iron on other planets, there is the possibility for complex life to evolve.

Fine art architecture photography from Iceland by landscape photographer, Serena Dzenis.

This recycling plant melts down scrap metal into raw materials to feed our continuous demand for products and to benefit the economy. However, it's also been reframed as a symbol of commitment to a more sustainable future.

In the end, we are all made of star dust. It's up to you what you believe.

The Gemini Project

Has the thought of living in a world without seasons ever crossed your mind?

Seasonal changes affect everything on our planet and living organisms all need a special combination of factors to be able to thrive. Although we’ve come a long way with technology, the human race still isn't at the stage yet where we can control these factors on Earth.

This concrete batching plant may be evidence that we have figured out how to harness raw materials in order to survive but as it stands, we are currently unable to establish a new colony elsewhere in the Universe. For now, we can only dream of building a life in another world.

Fine art architecture photography from Iceland by lens-based artist, Serena Dzenis.

Interplanetary travel aside, considering the advancements that we’ve made in areas such as technology and health, things today are much better than they were 50 years ago. With this in mind, do you believe the future will be much better than the present? Or will we meet some sort of ultimate destiny within the next handful of years?

New Horizons

We’re all just floating around on a rock in the middle of space.

Captain’s Log: Stardate 2021.255. It has been 7 days since we departed from Earth for the spaceport at Juno. Shortly after takeoff, the crew notified me that we had a stowaway onboard. The hitchhiker was quite nonplussed by the prospect of intergalactic travel and promptly took refuge in a corner of the vessel’s shared bathroom facilities.

He stayed out of the way for the first few days though the crew were a little annoyed at his presence. It’s one thing to live in close quarters but it’s another when you’re being stared at with multiple sets of eyes whilst trying to do your business.

At times, we noticed that he would be still for long periods and inspected him from a distance, wondering if he was alive or dead. More than once, the crew requested that they be allowed to catch him and put him out into the vacuum of space. With a firm but gentle reminder that Atlas 9 is a safe place for all, they agreed to allow the little critter to continue on his escapade.

Fine art architecture photography of a satellite dish array in Iceland by female landscape photographer, Serena Dzenis.

Today marks the end of our voyage; we are due to arrive at Juno in 3 hours. The stowaway has gathered together with us on the stardeck and the crew is wishing him well on his journey ahead. Though they were initially suspicious of his intentions, they have quickly learned to accept his strange but interesting ways.

In the end, we are all just explorers of light, out here on the search for new horizons.

Return to Juno

If I were an alien species, I think I’d be just about ready to return to my planet now. My vacation has been swell but things are getting a little weird on this planet and I’m beginning to miss home.

Don’t get me wrong.. the food here is great and I could eat pineapple on pizza for days. The views are spectacular too; Earth has some beautiful landmarks, radio stations and smells that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the Solar System.

There are a few things though that only life forms from my world can understand.

Fine art architecture photography of a modernist church in Iceland by architecture photographer, Serena Dzenis.

It has been difficult at times to communicate with the “most intelligent” species here but I’m managing. Recently, I’ve found myself listening intently for signs of life before heading outdoors, so as to avoid getting into conversations with some of these critters.

Apparently, this species has an emotional state called ‘fear’ which can be triggered by anything without warning. Some of them even engage in risky behaviours to enter this state as a means of entertainment!

On the whole though, they seem to be creatures of habit and while they have a million things that they could be doing, they complain a lot about being bored.

Anyhow, I hear that so-and-so’s dropping by to make a delivery tomorrow. If you're keen to hitch a ride to some other place in this galaxy, they’ve got some space in the boot.

It's a good idea though to let them know in advance… what or where is home for you?

Waterworld

Should we colonise other planets? Do we have the right to take over another world?

Whatever your beliefs, will they have any impact on the actions of humankind once we learn how to leave our planet with the view of colonising another?

Most of us understand the importance of caring for our environment. After all, the Earth sustains us with finite resources in the form of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. The combination of hydrogen and oxygen creates water, without which we wouldn’t live beyond tomorrow.

Fine art architecture photography of a blue watertower in Iceland by Australian photographer, Serena Dzenis.

For a planet to be suitable for colonisation, water would need to be available in the form of ice or liquid for us to collect, harness and exploit, much as we already do on Earth.

Given our propensity to utilise available resources to the detriment of nature, do we have a duty to protect the environment on other planets?

What about planets rich in resources that can’t or don’t support life?

Paradiso

Our homeworld is a land of light.

How often do you look up at the moon or the stars and imagine a different life?

Every one of us is constantly changing. How have your dreams or beliefs changed over time? What would you need to have in order for you to be happy?

There is something very intriguing about the human condition – how we consume yet find satisfaction to be so elusive. The sense of loss upon discovering that not all is as it seems can cause us to turn a blind eye and even double-down on our beliefs, reinforcing false ideas and setting us on a path towards our own destruction.

Pastel coloured fine art architecture photography of an industrial complex at sunset with moon in Iceland by Australian photographer, Serena Dzenis.

This aluminium smelter emits large amounts of greenhouse gases into the natural environment. It also produces materials used for manufacturing everything from paper to cosmetics, vaccines and even dental cement.

We are often led to believe that the benefits outweigh the risks on both our singular journeys through life and collective search for paradise.

Planet X Blues

In a distant galaxy far away, there could be a giant planet that orbits a blue sun. If we were to thrive there, perhaps our eyes would be tuned to see in the violet end of the visible spectrum.

There are infinite possibilities in life; it takes expansive imagination and critical thinking to explore the many ways in which we, as humans, transform the environments that we inhabit.

Where will technology take us in the future?

Will the waking world and the dream world ever converge in such a way that science fiction becomes real?

Fine art architecture photography of an industrial complex with moon in Iceland by Australian photographer, Serena Dzenis.

We have constructed so much in our day-to-day lives in a bid to fulfil our dreams, mitigate risks and ensure the survival of our offspring yet many things that we have created appear to be contributing to our demise.

Do you believe that it's possible for us as a species to shape our destiny?

Two Planets

Here we are, dreaming of lunar dust and martian sands… imagining that we’re strangers in a strange land.

Anything can happen in dreams... or so we're led to believe. We live in a world where the dreams of humankind consume the landscape in an artificial jungle.

This concrete batching plant may be an eyesore but it is one of the reasons why we have nice things.

Concrete is one of the most widely used substances on Earth. It protects us from the elements and allows us to survive, even as it smothers nature. For hundreds of years, we have continued to produce and to utilise concrete, ignoring its environmental impact in favour of technological advancement and development.

Fine art photography of industrial water tower in Reykjavik, Iceland by female architecture photographer, Serena Dzenis.

Have you ever imagined what this world would be like without concrete? If technology were rolled back, would we find ourselves trying to build up to all of the inventions and material constructs that we have at our fingertips today? Or would we be able to move forward on a more environmentally-friendly trajectory?

Dreamcode

Anything can happen in dreams.

I once spent an entire dream looking for a bathroom to pee in. Eventually, I ended up at a busy McDonalds, where the only toilet had no doors. I had no other choice. I felt like a pipe was about to burst. I had to do it.

So I did it. Then I looked down and I was NAKED!

I woke up in a state of anxiety – 1) about being naked in public and 2) that I had wet the bed (which I hadn’t, just so we’re clear).

Fine art architecture photography of the moon over the University of Iceland by Australian photographer, Serena Dzenis.

The moral of the story is that when one door closes, another one opens. Alternatively, you can find a way to open the closed door. If it’s locked, just kick it right down.

Where Dreams Are Made

Welcome to paradise. It’s time to wake up!

I wrote to Captain Planet once when I was a kid. He wrote back and sent me a Planeteer ring that made sound and flashed whenever you pressed it in the centre.

Fine art architecture photography of steam rising from a factory during sunset in Iceland by architecture photographer, Serena Dzenis.

On cloudy days, I would point my ring towards the sky and call on the element of wind. Any slight breeze that blew by was surely something that I had summoned. In my mind, I had the power… not just to make a small impact but to add my momentum to the cogwheels that had been set in motion by everyone before me in a bid to change the world.

Do you remember your dreams?

Candy Health Inc.

What would you do if you were the manager of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory?

We all have blindspots for social and cultural “norms”. Should we have a look around or just sit back and enjoy the story?

Consumerism engulfs us from the moment that we open our eyes and take our first breath. People in power readily exploit others, solely for profit. Injustice is rife and moral ambiguity means that oftentimes, even the best of us will end up caving in to some form of greed.

Fine art architecture photography of a factory in Iceland by architecture photographer, Serena Dzenis.

This isn’t a fictional capitalist dystopia. This is the real world where we’re fed candy “because it’s good for you” and the rich get richer.

What is it about this society that frightens or excites you the most?

The Shadow Factory

Imagine if all of your dreams were manufactured in this factory, packaged and ready to unravel in a small cardboard box. Would you be excited to take one home and open it? What do you think you might find inside?

Every box would be a gamble… perhaps the biggest one you’ve ever made in your life. What if there were the promise of something special inside, such as a shimmering plume of aspirations? On the other hand, you might be confronted with a nightmare or the shadow of your deepest desires.

In the worst case scenario (though this depends a lot on how you think about it), the box would be empty.

Chimney smoke stack factory in Iceland with pastel colours. Photo by architecture photographer, Serena Dzenis.

This photograph was inspired by Peter Carey’s short story, ‘Report on the Shadow Industry’. It’s a literary masterpiece about consumerism and the elusiveness of satisfaction upon getting hold of that very thing that we want.

Some Paradise

Welcome to the planet where innovations of humankind consume the landscape in a concrete jungle.

It may be an eyesore but this is one of the reasons why we have nice things.

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to go completely off the grid? How would you survive?

Fine art photography of cement factory in Reykjavik by architecture photographer Serena Dzenis

If technology were rolled back, would you find yourself starting again from scratch, trying to build up to all of the inventions and material things that we have right at our fingertips today?

A Thousand Nights

Somewhere in this vast universe, deep within another galaxy, there could be a planet just like ours.

What would your perfect world look like? In that environment, would you be free to feel most like yourself?

Every one of us has imagined a paradise. Billions of humans have walked this Earth and not a single one of our dreams has come close to matching another.

We all have our own desires, fuelled by different facets of our personalities and driven by our unique thoughts, abilities and creativity.

Fine art architecture photography by Serena Dzenis. Moon above an art deco building lit up by sunset at midnight in Reykjavik, Iceland.

As we move through life, we learn to celebrate our differences, be kind and to accept each of us as we are.

What is something about you, or that you’re interested in, which most people wouldn’t find out unless they asked?

Second Light

Imagine if we could visit other worlds beyond our Solar System. Who would you choose to bring on the journey with you and what do you think it would be like?

What would the gravity feel like on another planet?

How would it look if the skies sparkled above oceans of lava?

With interstellar passports in hand, perhaps we could go on vacation to a distant place where two suns set over the horizon instead of just one. A trip like that might be the next gap year fad. Don’t bother packing your bikini and tanning lotion though if you’re heading out to a rogue planet. You’d be better off preparing to wander through the emptiness of space in permanent darkness on a search for the meaning of life.

Checking the forecast and itinerary notes while planning your holiday would be of utmost importance. No one wants to venture out somewhere so hot that molecules facing the sun are torn apart in the daylight. Similarly, getting caught out in a thousand-year sandstorm probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Fine art architecture photography of Askirkja church with a moon during summer sunset in Iceland by Serena Dzenis.

Hidden by the bright glare of stars in the vast expanse around us are countless exoplanets. In our own galaxy, there are trillions of planets yet to be discovered. Someday, science and technology will allow us to do the things we can only dream of now.

Do you think that we’re alone in the Universe or will we find worlds inhabited by other lifeforms?

Search for Atlantis

Where is the lost city of Atlantis? Does it even exist?

It seems like fantasy… this ideal civilisation swallowed up by the shifting ocean. While once it flourished with its splendid palaces, sprawling libraries of ancient texts and gloriously paved roads, it suddenly vanished into thin air, leaving no trace of where it sank.

For me, Atlantis has always been part of an Age that I could only dream about – a gleaming city out of reach; a drowned world to never be discovered. In my mind, this enduring legend has been buried far out in the open sea, hidden beneath tumultuous waves. Its fortified walls, which were designed to provide protection from the perils of fire, now lay submerged and forgotten.

Fine art photograph of retro futuristic architecture in Reykjavik, Iceland by landscape photographer, Serena Dzenis.

Atlantis is a paradise lost. It is the exquisitely beautiful locked door that you have inside yourself, behind which you’ve stashed away secrets and everything meaningful in your life for safe-keeping. As a child, you had the key to this place and you would escape to it in your daydreams. Sunlight would stream through the windows, bathing you in a warm glow as you spent long afternoons imagining a future where everything was perfect.

What you weren’t aware of was that the door would begin fading over time. Now, it recedes into the distance, taking your memories away with it into the fog.

How close are you to being the person that you once thought you would be?

Return to Tomorrow

Let’s take a journey to this side of paradise.

Most of us understand the importance of caring for our environment. After all, the Earth sustains us and without it, we wouldn’t live beyond tomorrow.

Now, think about this: Do we have a duty to protect the environment on other planets? What about planets that can’t or don’t support life?

Scientists already do their best to prevent biological contamination in space. What else could be done though to treat another planet’s environment with respect? Think of the impact of drilling for samples, the surface damage caused by tyre tracks and the instruments that are left floating around as space junk.

Fine art photography of a church in Reykjavik during sunset by architecture photographer Serena Dzenis

I’ve been using my architecture photography to imagine a world in the future, whether that’s on our own planet or another. So I’d like to pose a question that might get you thinking: Given that the Earth is not the only potential place where humans can thrive in the future, what reasons would we have for protecting this environment once we can realistically leave and inhabit another planet?

RejuveNation Ltd.

This is a concrete plant but just for a moment, let’s imagine that it’s a dystopian factory for clones. Don’t panic, I do this all the time. Some might even consider me an expert!

Over the last 50 years, scientists have successfully produced a genetically identical camel, cat, carp and a cow. While there are still many more C-words to be added to the list, around 70 countries have banned human cloning since 2018.

Fine art photography of cement factory during sunset in Reykjavik by architecture photographer Serena Dzenis

I wonder though... if a perfect clone of you were to exist, would it also be you? Would it behave in the same manner as you? If it didn’t, then would it still be you? At what point would it not be you?

Would destroying it be considered a murder or a suicide?

Cryogenic Trading Co.

I am fascinated by this storage facility down by the harbour. It could be a giant fridge full of ice cream for all I know. Perhaps it’s something boring… maybe someone has collected thousands of lists of chores and stashed them all behind this cyan door. Imagine opening the door, only to be swamped by all the things that you have to do, like washing the dishes and emptying the rubbish.

Fine art photography of green doors to a storage facility in Reykjavik by architecture photographer Serena Dzenis

Then again, what if it’s a portal to another world? Or a factory where microwave meals are manufactured?

In the end, it could be just another bright facade that masks a dark future.

Cyber Heartbeat

Bonnie Tyler has released a video all about cardiology. It’s totally clips of the heart.

Puns aside, while they may seem like a thing of the future, cyborgs already exist amongst us.

Cyborg technology integrates biomechatronic body parts into organic body parts; think of pacemakers or robotic prosthetics. It is designed to enhance our natural abilities and to allow the human body to work beyond its natural form and function.

Fine art architecture photography by Serena Dzenis of a loveheart on a billboard in Iceland

Some scientists argue that our interactions with technology are already leading towards a cyborg system as we offload more of our human cognitive processes to tools such as calculators and computers.

When was the last time you were able to navigate to a new location without using a GPS navigation device?

Parabolic Broadcast

Did anybody else watch the live stream of Perseverance landing on Mars? It took around 11 minutes for a message from Earth to reach it and the same amount of time for it to send a message in return.

Fine art photography of a satellite dish during golden hour or sunset in Reykjavik, Iceland by landscape photographer Serena Dzenis

Compare that to instant messaging, snail mail and the days of sending a pigeon.

Planet Exploration

Should we colonise other planets? Do we have the right to take over another world?

Fine art photograph of Asmundarsafn Reykjavik Art Musem during golden hour in Iceland

Interstellar Ark

Do you think that the first space colony created by mankind will happen during your lifetime?

Fine art photograph of the Grensaskirkja church at sunset in Reykjavik, Iceland

Exit Utopia

Please mind your step.

Fine art photograph of architecture at the Perlan in Reykjavík, Iceland

Let's ponder the actions of humankind once we learn how to leave our planet with the view of colonising another.

Selected prints from this collection are available exclusively through Artsy and BBA Gallery.

Currently on exhibition at:
Somerset House
Strand
London, United Kingdom
Dates:

13th Apr – 02 May 2022

Info:

Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition 2022

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