It’s complicated: Parachuting cats land at MOD. for new exhibition

By Rosanna Galvin

The Operation Drop Cat exhibit at MOD. The Operation Drop Cat exhibit.

What do Tamagotchi-inspired octopuses, race cars made by robots and parachuting cats, have in common? They all feature in the exhibition It’s Complicated, which opened at MOD., based at UniSA, this month.

The Octopus Estate exhibit at MOD.The Octopus Estate exhibit.

Through interactive displays and immersive sensory experiences, It’s Complicated encourages visitors to think about the complex and interconnected systems around us – and the seemingly small changes that can have a big impact.

MOD. Director Dr Kristin Alford says launching during a global pandemic really drives home the exhibition’s relevance as we witness in real time how an invisible virus can disrupt lives across the world with ripple effects that will be felt for decades.

“If the past 12 months have proved anything, it’s that we are all connected. We all exist in complex systems where tiny decisions and actions can change the course of history,” she says.

It’s Complicated examines how even the most well-thought-out solutions to problems can have unintended consequences. Sometimes it is impossible to predict chaos, let alone prevent it.

“The Operation Drop Cat exhibit looks at the chain of events in which the World Health Organisation’s efforts to combat malaria in Borneo in the 1950s using the insecticide DDT led to crippling rat plagues and the subsequent release of 14,000 live cats.”

In keeping with MOD.’s mission to be Australia’s leading future-focused museum, many of the exhibits are designed to provoke visitors to think about how complex systems will be influenced by advances in technology.

“An exploration of the relationships between humans, nature, and technology, It’s Complicated gives visitors the chance to put themselves at the heart of a number of complex systems,” Dr Alford says.

The Cell Invaders exhibit at MOD.The Cell Invaders exhibit.

“You can enter the body’s immune system through the bloodstream to find out how researchers in this building are harnessing our own cells to fight cancer, or follow in the steps of UniSA engineering students to work alongside robots to create a racing car.

“Several exhibits draw heavily on the work of UniSA researchers. Dr Zoë Doubleday and Dr Jasmin Martino are the brains behind the exhibit Octopus Estate, where visitors can raise their own virtual octopus, making sure it eats, flees, hides and scares its way to adulthood in an interconnected world of predators and prey. 

“We hope people will walk away from It’s Complicated with an increased awareness of their own relationships to nature, to technology, and to each other.”

It’s Complicated runs until 27 November 2021. For more information, go to