Installation view, 2023, Hyundai Motor Studio Beijing, 8k video with sound, 3d-printed resin sculptures, sand
Begin with the End of What Comes Before
8k video
8 minutes 45 seconds

This work contemplates the deep transmutation between biologic and geologic matters through planetary evolution and human activities. It begins with the biological evolution driven by the desire for phosphorus in the oceans during the Cambrian period, and continues with mining, extraction, and disposal of phosphorus in the modern era. The circulation of phosphorus between organismal and planetary bodies undergoes constant transformation in its forms and mutually shapes lives. From the sedimentary petrified remains to the toxic residues of industrial waste, the once free elements in the primordial seas permeate the expanding realm of matter.

Merging microscopic imaging, AI generated and hand modeled digital animation, the scenes render the deep in-between metamorphosis of the inorganic element from primordial broth to coexistence across species and intelligence. The audiences will traverse enigmatic porous terrains, reminiscent of ancient ecosystems that thrived with unknown lifeforms, as well as the geotrauma and future remains such as tailings deposits and Earth sinkholes.

Fossils of brachiopods are scattered on the ground, summoning distant memories offshore. Five hundred million years ago, brachiopods and other soft-bodied marine animals used phosphates to build their shells. As the phosphorus in the oceans eventually depleted, a series of mass extinctions occurred, leading to the emergence of new life forms. As matter, life and technology become increasingly entangled in unfathomable complexity in present day, this ecological meditation delves into the perennial theme of metamorphosis across eons, while addressing the ever-relevant aspects of contemporary living and dying.

This work is commissioned by Hyundai Motor Studio Beijing exhibition “Metamorphic Ecosphere” curated by Xiao Zong. 

Collaboration & Credit:
Music: Oxi Peng
CG Animation: AJ Sapala
CG Assistant: Yuxin Ding
© Shuyi Cao 2023