Who are we? Where did we come from? What is our purpose? These are some of the questions ancient philosophers had asked in their search for the origins of the universe and all its inhabitants. Human beings have a gift for pattern recognition and could not help but notice the seemingly ordered movements of celestial bodies as they travelled through time and space. We wandered for many millennia searching and asking deep questions about how we fit in with the planets, stars, moons, landscapes, plants and other creatures which occupies the universe. In this search we uncovered that there must be a metaphysical entity/region, which exists beyond our own powers and understandings that was responsible for creation itself. This is the birth of Creationism which are cosmological notions that describes how the entirety of creation itself, came into being through events of supernatural/divine action.
Creationism stands in opposition to Evolutionism, which describes the birth of all things in the universe, from the scientific perspective that is based on observation and experimentation. This opposition is primarily caused by the fact that Evolutionism does not hold any sentient being as the sole progenitor of everything which exists. This divergence resulted in centuries of debate surrounding the truths and falsehoods concerned with the origin of the universe and life. Although these cosmologies appear to be different and consequently non-compatible, the truth is they include several common notions in their fundamental ideas. For instance, one creationist perspective of our origins from the Judeo-Christian scriptures, describes the emergence of the universe from a single point called a void through divine influence. However, the evolutionist perspective had come to a strikingly similar perspective, of the entire universe emerging from a single point during a period called the Big Bang. It is through these common notions that truth exists, not in the obscurity caused by centuries of humans seeking difference rather than unity.
Origin is a sixteen panel wide transitional mural, designed in order to show how through harmony both evolutionism and creationism can become unified. The reason unification is important is because the age-old separation may have augmented the development of other binary oppositions in society, namely racism, classism, gender, sex, ethnicity and nationalism to name a few. To help create a balanced civilisation in an age of equality, this mural is important in conveying that unity can be achieved by focusing on similarities rather than differences. As such it presents cosmology from both perspectives through the lens of the lifeforms that inhabit Earth our home, whether it may be animals, plants even bacteria and fungi all of us are equal.
Evolution begins on the left side of the mural from the scientifically proven, earliest known creatures in the history of life such as comb jellies, sea anemones, pikaia and sea sponges. These creatures seemingly evolve and grow in one continuous motion into a reinterpretation of a Megalodon shark based on the likeness of the contemporary Great White Shark. Each animal, plant or even landscape which is visualised is symbolically linked with its physical counterpart as well as an idea of change, and where each fits in within that story fo evolution. The shark does not simply emerge out of nothing for instance, something of lesser complexity and size must have come before such as the comb jellies and pikaia in the previous illustration. Eventually aquatic creatures transform to adapt to life on land by shedding there gills, fins, flukes and in some cases their skin, in place of other physical traits which will better help in their survival. The fourth panel in the serious indicates this metamorphosis clearly with a primeval crocodilian which is caught mid transition between reptile and fish. We can see this transition quite clearly even in today's animal kingdom in frogs and other amphibians which are neither fish nor reptile, but retain elements from both.
Over time reptilians make way for warmer blooded creatures such as mammals and birds, which have come to dominate almost all terrains. Evolutionism eventually culminates at the centre with the image of a man arm outstretched to bridge the gap between evolutionism and creationism, which begins with his woman counterpart. On the Creationist side of the mural the woman begins the cycle of change, stylised with more metaphysical features such as pupil and iris-less eyes with a swan seemingly emerging out of her body. A throned King-like Panda dominates the adjoining scene, fascinated by something in the sky or within its own mind. Mythological figures such as the phoenix, kukulkan, the black tortoise and a mermaid all take up their respective positions within the mural, illustrated so that they do not seem dissimilar to those creatures depicted over the side of Evolution. This better helps to unify both perspectives visually, contextually and conceptually, as giving them the appearance of creatures we humans accept to be real. The mythological is designed so they themselves can be appreciated as creatures that may exist as well. The mural comes to an end, or beginning depending on your perspective with an object riddled with symbolism.
The final panel features a recontextualised Venus of Willendorf made to be a representation of an Earth Mother figure, while it supports the entirety of creation unified in balance within a fibonacci spiral. The fibonacci spiral is an important symbol in both religious and scientific cosmology, as it indicates movement from one point to the other a crucial aspect in all creation regardless of your vantage point. The Earth Mother also controls the balance between life and death, leading to the possibility that the figure may be a representation of a Creator Deity/God. However, the truth is more ominous as the Earth Mother is but a catalyst for cosmological events to occur whether in a physical or metaphysical manner. Creation is channeled through the figure which serves as a doorway which is anchored directly onto the void. This panel is possibly the most significant as it shows all of creation whether from a scientific or religious perspective, existing on the same plane in unity. Origin does not only exist to dispel the controversy surrounding cosmological truths and falsehoods, but also social inequality. Gender for instance is a target of constant debate as it is socially prescribed and does not exist naturally. Breaking down the boundaries which society created to keep these dichotomies in tact, may inspire humanity to focus on events of more paramount importance such as global warming which has the capacity to destroy us all. Where we are coming from is no longer the cause for debate, as we already know based on these two perspectives, what we ought to focus on now is where we are going.
Designer: Leighton J. C. Estick
Date: 2017 - 2018
Genres: Illustration, Muralism, Installation art, Exhibition design, Land art.
Medium: Acrylic and emulsion paints, plywood and pinewood lumber.