21st Century hedonism at MOD. asks … what’s your pleasure?

By Michèle Nardelli

Pleasure Arcade 5000 in the MOD. HEDONISM exhibition. Photo Kate Bowman. Pleasure Arcade 5000 in the MOD. HEDONISM exhibition. Photo Kate Bowman.

A new exhibition at Australia's leading future-focused museum, MOD., will test your notions of pleasure and unpack the experiences that make humans truly happy.

InDaily article clipping on MOD. Hedonism exhibition.

Seven spaces in MOD. host different interactive exhibits to help people find new ways to contribute to their own lifelong journey of pleasure and wellbeing.  MOD.’s Hedonism exhibition peels back the layers on modern notions of pleasure and make visitors question if 21st century ideas of happiness are sustainable. 

There’s a huge hanging light sculpture – the Hedonometer– which translates Twitter’s public feed from a random sample of about five million tweets each day – into a happiness score by analysing words and assigning them colour values. 

Biophilic Fantasies

Moving from the impact of social media to the impact of spending time in nature, the Street Gallery exhibit, Biophilic Fantasies, gets visitors to compare how they feel in the presence of plants and animals compared to in the presence of artificial plants and animals. The question is whether virtual worlds replace the real thing in giving people a sense of pleasure and wellbeing? 

Research shows people have a reduced sense of stress and more positive emotions when they are in nature or even surrounded by fascinating green spaces. The exhibit combines a sense of structure with real and simulated nature including sounds and smells and visitors can assess the impact on their mood. 

The Universal Gallery takes a long hard look at the human gut and how the health of the microbiome – all the billions of microscopic organisms that live inside the body – influences human health, susceptibility to illness and how happy people feel. 


The exhibit – Symbiosville – allows visitors to create a character and explore the world, stopping for meals along the way and getting to know what makes them (and their insides) happy. 

MOD. Director Dr Kristin Alford says Hedonism is one of MOD.’s most ambitious exhibitions yet. 

“It’s a highly interactive exhibition and because it is so focused on what makes us happy – happy at work, happy with our hobbies and sports, happy in our social connections, healthy and happy – I think there is something for everyone to enjoy and be curious about,” Dr Alford says. 

“These are significant questions because despite our wealth and health, our happiness is not guaranteed in modern affluent communities. 

“Interrogating pleasure in a philosophical context – where we look at the original notion of hedonism and see how we balance our lives to ensure maximum happiness – is important. 

“I think the exhibition will highlight the parameters that make pleasure more possible and more sustainable.” 

MOD. is located on North Terrace, Adelaide, and is open every day except Mondays. Visit the MOD. website for details.

See UniSA News In Pictures for photos from the Hedonism launch party.