A 3D scan of the body of Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, spins at a constant on the webpage of the Smithsonian Museum. At the ancient DNA lab at U.C. Santa Cruz, Ben Novak is attempting to bring her species back from extinction. He Draws DNA mostly from the soft pads between her toes and the feet of other passenger pigeons, such as her former mate George who kept her company at Cincinnati Zoo until 1910.
In the interplay of objects structuring the narratives of nature and evolution, we can also think of mind as an object. Understanding that “object” is a mental classification- as permeable, arbitrary and unnecessary to the Other as any symbol of human language. Then also, and to some extent obviously, the mind is a collision of forces, of objects and stratified geographies of time - an echo chamber of the world, reverberating a perceived ‘external’ through an internal biology. To think about the form of the hand, as it evolved to touch, to grasp, to protect, we must also think of the evolution of the forms touched, the plants, the tool, the body of your lover, and know that these things coaxed each other into form. So as the fruit made themselves edible, so too did we learn to taste the sweetness of fruit. As, more recently we formed user-interfaces ergonomically to hands and soon found our thumbs and forefingers were morphing to the controllers.
Up until the late 1800s, it was believed that crystals, rocks and metal grew under the surface of the soil like organic matter. Understanding of sediment compression came later. Now that humans are geological forces, we can be compared to the glacier that carved the valley and the volcano that birthed the mountain. In that logic, the symbiosis of natural forces, the screen is the evolutionary conclusion of the rock. Coltan from the Congo, glass made of sand, plastics from plankton. So what does that make the 3D form? The magical conjuring of data is not separable from the material. This text as I type it is copper, zinc, alloy, bedrock, rubber. It is palpable all the way through. The digital image has a past, present and future in the economy of minerals and molecules that undulate the earth. The 3D render, a momentary wave and break of planetary deep time.
‘I think that the universe may have evolved a brain to see itself’ says Henry Markram, Neuroscientist and Professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. He is director of the Blue Brain project, a super computer network designed to remodel the Human Brain in 3D. Scientists remain sceptical, yet the EU has just given him 1 billion euros to see the project through. He describes it as the 'Cern of neuroscience'. Where exist the memories that this brain will hold? Will it begin to accrue memory from the moment it starts? Could a human brain, divorced from a body into computer-time; geological deep-time experience time passing at all?