In collaboration with Volumina, Circos was used to
generate illustrations for Chromosomes
exhibition, an art book of still images from David Cronenberg films.
I had the opportunity to contribute not only the art work, but text for this book as well.
We fear the unknown. Monsters and creatures are words we give to
the most frightening unknown of all — the biological. Things
living — primitive, unpredictable, ravenous and without
recourse to emotion or reason. Clutching reason and humanity, we
congratulate ourselves for having departed those base instincts.
But our departure is neither recent nor complete. Inside each of us
is a history of our evolutionary ancestors,
written in our chromosomes. The ant has 2. The house fly, 12. Humans
have 46, a dog has 78 and in a fern, there are over 1,000. Chromosomes
are the superblocks of genetic organization and heredity. They are an
organism's contact list of its evolutionary ancestors.
Many of these ancestors were not different from monsters and
creatures that inhabit our nightmares, our fears and our movies. And
as the lights come on, and projections from the screen yield to
reality, our body harbors elements from a darker
past. Like the Alu genetic element, a jumping-gene which
repeatedly copies itself within our genome and a constant companion to
our evolution for the past 65 million years. In every part of every
chromosome is our creature heritage.
Although we emerged in human from our mother's womb, as embryos we exhibited
our evolutionary history: we all had gills, a tail, and body
hair. Lost or absorbed before birth, these signposts remind us that
our ancestors are inside us, not just in stories or movies. It is only
later that the brain, our species' most prized possession, develops
and transforms us. In the last minute, we pass into humanity and into
the world. Today, we tell stories of monsters and creatures.
Tomorrow, we may take their place. Distant from now, our progeny will
see our forms during development and say "What creatures we were."
Movies will frighten by showing our forms. "Look, mommy, a
smooth-skinned biped with wide eyes."