Week 6/ Gaia/ Patrick Morales

This week I was inspired by professor Vesna’s lectures on the interconnectivity of biotechnology with our modern world, in particular James Lovelocks Gaia hypothesis. I believe that the technological super goal of creating one seamless interconnected world is, if not directly then subconsciously, inspired by the interconnectivity of nature. James Lovelocks Gaia hypothesis is “…the theory that living organisms and inorganic material are part of a dynamic system that shape Earth’s biosphere, in Lynn Margulis’s words, a “super organismic system” The earth is a self-regulating environment; a single, unified, cooperating and living system - a super organism that regulates physical conditions to keep the environment hospitable for life Evolution therefore is the result of cooperative not competitive processes.” (http://www.kheper.net/topics/Gaia/Gaia_Hypothesis.htm).

The idea of a super organismic system is the central focus of various forms of art. From folklore, legends, statues depicting the gods in the legends and modern installations the Gaia hypothesis has transcended a purely ecological and scientific hypothesis to a major inspiration for artist around the globe. Just one example from the top of my head is the video game, Final Fantasy 7. Originally released on the Playstation Home Console, the fictional narrative of the games events were revolved around a source known as the Lifestream. The lore in the game was that every person contained within them a fragment of this Lifestream and when they died their personal energy returned to the Lifestream. Growing up in a Catholic/Christian household this idea reminds me of the idea represented in the famous lines “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” spoken at funerals. A return to a greater mysterious source.

In relation to biotechnology, the most fascinating fact that I like to ponder is that this time “we” are creating the technological “Lifestream” in place of some mysterious force. We as humans are creating the huge interconnected river of knowledge and technology. We are creating a Gaia based in technology with the internet, global interconnectivity and biotechnological research.

http://www.gamesarefun.com/anidis/advent-children-1200x700.jpg

This picture comes from the digital film created in the same world as the original Final Fantasy video game. It is interesting that the graphics depict the main antagonist and protagonist of the storyline dissolving in to similar “digital dust”, implying that we are all a part of a greater being/organism.

From a biological perspective, the Gaia hypothesis is excellently represented in physical form by the vegetative part of fungi, mycelium. This thread-like hyphae’s main purpose is to decompose organic compounds. The interesting thing about mycelium is that they are connected to other mycelium myceliums and they can span entire forests, constantly sensing stimuli to the “network”. It is a biological internet under our own feet.

Completely random fact: I love any art that imitates life so well that it scares the hell out of people.

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