Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun…. there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand…. nor look through the eyes of the dead…. nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.
In our time, the tantalizing mystery of Creation is usually explored through science or religion. Can art provide vision also?
This short film, Abiogenesis, by Richard Mans, produced by Fuzzy Realms, is an interesting take on the subject of life and its origins. A machine lands on a desolate planet, finds resources there and begins to create life. The animation is beautifully detailed; mechanical and biological forms are rendered in intricate clarity. The film is a fantastic fusion of images from the scientific and technical world with those from mythological and faith sources. I am especially drawn to the pools that exist on this bleak planet, which remind me so much of the colorful geothermal areas of Yellowstone National Park, and to the glorious representation of the Tree of Life that springs, volcanic, from the ground. This is an amazing work, full of deep connotations and new flights of thought.
Abiogenesis is the generation of life from that which is not alive. It doesn’t have the same implications as spontaneous generation, which implies that living tissue can randomly generate from non-living tissue. This is exemplified in the belief, held by scientists as recently as the 19th century, that maggots generated from rotting flesh. We now know that flies lay eggs on dead flesh, which hatch maggots. I think Mans gives a nod to this when he makes the collecting units of the machine look like flies, before they transform into motorcycles and race back to the landing module, where the “magic” happens. The next sequence is breathtaking, as life erupts on the planet. Rhian Sheehan’s musical score is wonderfully effective here. Kudos to sound designers Justin Doyle, Michelle Child and Dave Whitehead who round out the impressive team of artists at Fuzzy Realms.
I love the ending, the capsule reassembling into its original form and departing, ostensibly with the purpose of creating life on other worlds. We don’t know who created this machine, or how it was made, but I think most will agree that it is delightful and exhibits forethought and purpose, as well as some sort of Providence.
The earliest texts humanity produced were Creation myths, set down in writing after being passed down by generations of storytellers. It seems that, since we became self-aware, we’ve always wanted to know why and how we came to be on this planet. Faith has sought to deal with questions of purpose and science with the mechanics of the creative process. In modern times these two branches of inquiry have come into desperate conflict. Troubles arise most quickly when faith tackles mechanics and when science ascribes purpose. These difficulties become almost insurmountable when people seek to impose their assumptions, drawn from their own experience and training, on others. We can only believe that which we are prepared to believe. Does this mean that the modern human must make a choice between having purpose and having knowledge? What an ominous decision.
The arts are uniquely positioned to help work through this crisis. Artists do not only study or theorize about the creative process, they live it. In order to produce an artistic creation, elements of purpose and mechanical facility must come together. If anyone can integrate and synthesize faith and science it is the artist, and Mans does a wonderful job with this video.
Each of us stands in a different place, with very different light. The more we share with one another the more expansive our sight becomes.
A bewildering assortment of (mostly microscopic) life-forms has been found thriving in what were once thought to be uninhabitable regions of our planet. These hardy creatures have turned up in deep, hot underground rocks, around scalding volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean, in the desiccated, super-cold Dry Valleys of Antarctica, in places of high acid, alkaline, and salt content, and below many meters of polar ice.
…Some deep-dwelling, heat-loving microbes, genetic studies suggest, are among the oldest species known, hinting that not only can life thrive indefinitely in what appear to us totally alien environments, it may actually originate in such places.
—David Darling, Life Everywhere: the Maverick Science of Astrobiology
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, PDI via Pixabay
Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation. Most are too busy to notice it, and it is stronger in some than others. It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin.