Nadie sabe que los gérmenes acaban de llegar – Barcelona (2020)

NADIE SABE QUE LOS GÉRMENES ACABAN DE LLEGAR → One year ago, by chance, Lucía and Adriana found an article written by the mexican author Octavio Paz. The essay, titled Inteligencias extraterrestres y demiurgos, bacterias y dinosaurios (1982), stood between a scientific essay and a fictional novel and came about from the reading of Francis Crick’s recently published book, Life itself, its Origin and Nature (1981).

 

Studying Crick’s speculations, Paz revised these alternative theories on the origin of human life on planet Earth. He dealt with several questions, from the extraordinary Big Bang to the location within the Universe from which life began. As Paz described in his article; the Ancients developed various theories on the origin of life. One hypothesis, put forward by Plato, postulated the existence of a demiurge. Crick’s theory, later remarked by Paz, was that a higher extraterrestrial civilisation, on the edge of extinction, had seeded microorganisms through space in a sort of spaceship, with the aim of preserving their species. They posit that these germs had eventually landed on planet Earth. Here the first forms of life emerged, thanks to a series of contingencies which Crick defines as happy accidents.

 

With our own uncertain future, overshadowed by the anxiety of an imminent apocalypse (Ecological? Political? Biblical?) leaving us vulnerable and unprepared, we wonder: how relevant is it to reaffirm Crick’s thought: ‘Every civilisation — even ours — is condemned to its extinction within the planet where it was born and raised?’ And if we accept this theory, would we send life to another planet, in the same way the extraterrestrial once did, more than 14.000 million years ago? Will we then repeat the history of our demiurges?

 

Instead of bringing clarity, Crick’s theory delivers us back to ourselves, in a sort of circular movement which we can not refrain from. On one hand, this theory allows us to imagine ourselves sending microorganisms to the Universe, in a desperate attempt to protect our civilisation. On the other, it suggests a condition where the existing matter, molecules and germs combine in an uncertain way in order to create new life.

 

The exhibition displays a circular and fluid path between the scientific and the poetic; the intention is to evoke a vision: three potential scenarios resulting from a Panspermia delivered from Earth to another planet, maybe to another galaxy. It generates an atmosphere, where the traces of our humanity merge with the physical and morphological conditions of a divergent dimension

Lucía found it published in Octavio Paz, Sombras de obras (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1983).

The analogy established here by Paz is between the higher extraterrestrial civilisation and the notion of demiurge developed by Plato and later by the Gnostics. By doing so, Crick’s theory could constitute a sort of modern version of the demiurge of the Timaeus, ‘[who] combines, no longer souls and their properties, but molecules and acids instead, with the aim of reproducing (imitating) life and sending it to this planet’. Paz, Sombras de obras, 157.

This theory is also known as Panspermia (from the Ancient greek πανσπερμία panspermia ‘mixture of seeds of all species’). The Spanish Royal Academy of Language (RAE) defines Panspermia as the ‘doctrine that claims to be spread everywhere germs of organised beings, that do not develop until they find favorable circumstances for it.’. Real Academia Española. Dictionary of the Spanish language, 2019, accessed 6th January, 2020, https://dle.rae.es/ panspermia. More specifically, Crick and Orgel defend the theory of Directed Panspermia, namely, the deliberate sending of microorganisms from a remote point within the Universe to the Earth.

Happy accidents, namely, a definition introduced by Science in its vocabulary to refer ‘not to a phenomenon without cause, but to an exceptional fact instead, which is the result of the conjunction, infrequent or unlikely, of certain circumstances’. Paz, Sombras de obras, 151.

Within his artworks, Domas van Wijk (Netherlands / 1993) com- bines animated and mechanised objects. These compositions are determined by movements or actions, where the random is somewhat apparent; a closer observation subtracts their inner complexity. The sequence of the elements goes far beyond their mechanics or their appearance. They appeal to different layers of meaning that are interspersed. Van Wijk’s practice alludes to the visual or popular culture; to topics like the identity or its construc- tion, starting from the elements that shape his sculptures first.