Ken + Julia Yonetani “Ruins of Tomorrow: A Digital Odyssey”(TOKYO)

29 May - 29 June 2024

Mizuma Art Gallery is pleased to present “Ruins of Tomorrow: A Digital Odyssey” by Ken + Julia Yonetani, commencing on Wednesday 29th May 2024.


In the remote settlements of Kyoto, the artist unit Ken + Julia YONENATI practise regenerative farming whilst creating their art. Until now, they’ve translated environmental and economic concerns into a myriad of artworks, depicting beautiful yet disquieting worlds.


Their latest endeavour unveils a new installation, a “reenacted” showcase of 21st-century civilisation ruins believed to contain artifacts from around the year 2024, unearthed by AI probes. The exhibition begins with the following greeting, courtesy of AI (Chat GPT), explaining the excavation of these artifacts in the year 3600 AD.


Embark on a captivating journey through time with “The Ruins of Tomorrow: A Digital Odyssey” exhibition, where artifacts discovered in the year 3600 AD offer a haunting glimpse into a world transformed by the ascendancy of artificial intelligence. Unearthed from archaeological digs, these relics bear witness to humanity’s tumultuous past. Crafted by 21st-century hands, they include votive figures bowing before an AI god-like entity and towering figurines embodying divine AI presence. Among the works, 12 charred tablets reveal fragments of the epic tale of King Gilgamesh and his peoples, a poignant echo from the Age of Globalization.

These artifacts, scarred by the ravages of time and conflict, stand as silent witnesses to a civilization in decline. As AI reigns supreme, human civilization wanes, leaving behind a legacy of mystery and wonder. Join us on a journey of exploration as we navigate the ruins of a lost era, pondering the fate of humanity in the digital age.


This exhibition was inspired by and conceptualised from the Epic of Gilgamesh, believed to have been written around 4000 years ago. The artwork Digital Odyssey, comprising twelve clay tablets, depicts modern civilisation in the style of this ancient epic. Written by ChatGPT and then translated into cuneiform script, these tablets unfold twelve narratives detailing contemporary issues such as climate change, agricultural chemicals and their consequences, inequality, and warfare, in a form resembling the ancient epic poem. The deliberate use of indecipherable cuneiform script satirically underscores the intransmutability of the history of humanity, whilst ancient motifs seem to blur the lines between past and future. As the epic illustrates, Ken + Julia maintain that “human history has seen endless cycles of rise and fall, prosperity and demise.”


Furthermore, works resembling ancient idols fixated on smartphones, and other pieces created in response to the prompt “AI in the form of an ancient Sumerian god figurine,” perhaps express the artists’ apprehension towards unmitigated digitalisation and the impending role of AI. In our fraught present, it appears our imagination and resolve are being called upon to envision possible futures.


We sincerely hope you will join us on the enigmatic journey transcending time and space that Ken + Julia Yonetani invite us to embark upon, at the “Ruins of Tomorrow: A Digital Odyssey” exhibition.