Dark Origins is a 3-part VR journey to the edge of scientific knowledge, inviting people to experience the contested origins of life deep inside the Earth. The story shifts between human, bacterial, geological and machinic perspectives to unravel scientific mysteries about extremophiles, creatures that thrive without any sunlight in extreme temperatures and pressures. These organisms look nothing like what scientists thought life might look like, but they could hold the key to re-situating human life in the universe and changing how we relate to the natural world.
The project is about breaking down universal concepts of ‘life’ and the ‘human’ to create experiences around other possibilities of being. Uncovering the shadowed and syntrophic voices of nonhuman worlds might help to build new faculties to repair and care for planet Earth.
01 THE DAWN OF THE ARCHEAN
Four billion years ago, Planet Earth is covered with water. Under the ocean floor, life begins to spark around an alkaline hydrothermal vent.
02 MEPHISTO & THE EXTREMOPHILE
At 5:25 AM, on a dry and cloudless November morning, you find yourself at the Beatrix Goldmine in the Free State Province of South Africa. You are transformed into Gaetan Borgonie, a scientist searching for unknown life.
03 A WORLD WITHOUT US
You become a simulation of the knotted evolution of life on Earth, trying to sequence all known organisms to predict the species yet to be discovered.
Calum Bowden, Visual artist-filmaker
Calum Bowden is an artist-filmmaker, exploring the weird and uncanny myths of science, technology and culture. He was an inaugural fellowship artist at Film London’s FLAMIN. Calum’s work has been screened and exhibited internationally, including at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, MAO Ljubljana, and Harvard University.
Jelena Viskovic, Artist
Jelena Viskovic is an artist who works with technologies that enable interaction and world-building. She develops web-based, mobile applications and uses video game engines to build immersive stories, social research tools, and virtual worlds. Her collaborative projects include Patternist and Rromok commissioned by Rhizome (US) and the V&A (UK).