Now open at LEA13 and continuing through December is The Gaia Theory Project, presented by the Tanalois Group and the torno Kohime Foundation under the direction of Aloisio Congrejo, Tani Thor and Nino Vichan. The collaborative exhibition features works by Chinon Beaumont, Daco Monday, comet Morigi, Gem Preiz, Betty Tureaud, Cayenne Avon, Alosio Congrejo, Tani Thor Congrejo, Kicca Igaly, Melusina Parkin and Nino Vichan. The Gaia Theory, as the notecard details, "proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. Topics of interest include how the biosphere and the evolution of life forms affect the stability of global temperature, ocean salinity, oxygen in the atmosphere and other environmental variables that affect the habitability of Earth."
The organizers and artists have taken quite the gloom and doom approach in designing the sim, with human detritus and decay in all directions. Alisio Congrejo gives us a pool of red toxic waste; Nino Vichan gives us the Trail of Extinction, with tombstones for the dodo, the Tasmanian tiger, the golden toad, all leading to a huge stone saying, "Homo Sapiens, Extinction ?" It's an ugly, depressing place, and I wonder what the artistic intention was: we are all already aware of the environmental challenges facing the planet, and this does nothing to contribute in a meaningful way to the conversation. Their artistic vision seems to focus exclusively on the human destruction of the environment, which is not consistent with the Gaia Hypothesis. Indeed, James Lovelock, the initial developer of Gaia in the 1960s, wrote, "There are many possibilities for comfort as there are for dismay in contemplating the consequences of our membership in this great commonwealth of living things. It may be that one role we play is as the senses and nervous system for Gaia. Through our eyes she has for the first time seen her very fair face and in our minds become aware of herself. We do indeed belong here."
Some of the art, for example Gem Priez's simplistic Macro-stones and Micro-Earth, seems to have little to do with the sim's artistic premise. Overall, Betty Tureaud's colorful Gaia from Chaos (above), from which I would ordinarily shy away, comes as almost a relief—it seems the only work that distances itself from the surrounding despondency, pessimism and wretchedness. (And possibly the best thing about the exhibition is Betty's playful HUD, which transports you from venue to venue. Melusina Parkin's photos, too, are always worth viewing.) As Lovelock said in a 2002 interview in the Toronto Sun, "The greens use guilt...You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air." I'm as much of an environmentalist as anyone out there, but this just leaves me flat.