Spirit of evolution - Transit to Venus
Earlier this century, the debate between creationists and evolutionists was fought in the courts and schools. Now most in our secular society accept the teaching of evolution theory in schools even though they are inconsistent with the creationist theories of their religious beliefs. With the new biotechnologies, we are now faced with the prospect of scientists creating new life forms, including new human life forms. In the future, man will be creator. Man playing God. Man is God.
Reminiscent of textbook schemas of evolution, Jacques Deshaies has used chromosome pairs to represent the evolution of man from lover life forms. In his hieroglyphic notation, reptiles evolve into mammals; mammals into primates; primates into australopithecus, australopithecus into early man; and early man into modern man. The planets place the human species and evolution in a temporal context. The trajectory of human existence intersects that of the universe - the Earth revolving around the Sun and the Moon revolving around the Earth. Deshaies remind us of the relative insignificance of the human species and the fact that evolutionary theory does not explain human existence in its totality. Man still cannot explain many of the most important philosophical and scientific questions.
In his youth, Deshaies was taught that God created the world in six days and on the seventh day he rested. In his hieroglyphics, the seventh chromosome represents the seventh day. In Deshaies story, when God rested on the seventh day, Man became the creator of the new species of humans - a genetically-engineered, cybernetic organism.
society continues to attempt to reconcile the conflicting theories of
creation and evolution. Most of this reconciliation is at individual
level where spirituality is increasingly personal. This debate, although
important, is about the past and has little effect on everyday life
- food, shelter, sleep, sex. Deshaies is much more concerned with the
decision on the new biotechnologies being made in boardrooms and laboratories
worldwide. The religious leaders are silent . The public really only
gets to debate these issues as consumers. But Deshaies argues that these
new debates about creation and evolution are not about the past but
that technologies will define the future of the human species and will
affect the everyday life of all of us. The theories of the origins of
the human species - creation or evolution - are abstract ideas; the
implications of these new technologies will be anything but abstract
according to Deshaies. Metallic paint was used to illuminate the industrialization
of reproduction and the reengineering of the human species in the not
to distant future.
The intersecting lines of chromosomes and planets in the painting reflect the highly complex nature and structured order of the universe. Jacques Deshaies simultaneously frames humans in both a deconstructionist and holistic manner; from the infinitestimal world of molecules and chromosomes to the seemingly infinite size of the planets circling the sun to electrons orbiting atoms show the interconnectiveness of the micro and macro worlds of human existence. In Deshaies world, human are as equally connected to the Universe as they are to atoms and chromosomes. The recycling of atoms in the Universe over billions of years, of which each one of our short lives are but a very temporary form or state of existence of matter, is interpreted by Deshaies as a form of consciousness in the universe transcending human consciousness.
Spirit of Evolution, Deshaies articulates his concern that Man needs
to understand the interconnectiveness of humans to the birds and the
animals and the stars and the sun and the moon before he considers playing
God. He also wants his fellow citizens to reflect on how human spirituality
will evolve in a world where Man is the creator of new species of microorganisms,
plants, animals and even humans. His story of the spirit of evolution
ends with the final chapter concluding with the transformation of the
human spirit by the new biotechnologies. This evolution in spirit
is the final Transit to Venus.
Jock Langford, Environnement Canada - Ottawa - Oct. 1998