“Reverse Phylogenesis” by Golnaz Behrouznia, Dominique Peysson

  • ©, Golnaz Behrouznia and Dominique Peysson, Reverse Phylogenesis


    Reverse Phylogenesis

Artist(s) and People Involved:


Artist Statement:

    Hacnum Exhibition, Various Locations, May 16 – 21

    A Parallel Natural History Museum
    Art-Science trans-media installation
    12 devices within a scenographic route

    Passionate about the living, Golnaz Behrouznia and I imagined the concept of the exhibition together Reverse phylogenesis. This is a journey featuring twelve of our works, from which we create a logic between fiction and natural science. A trans-media and literary work, from our imagination.

    Very recently, biologists discovered a species of jellyfish capable of performing a true reversal of its life cycle, allowing it to return to a previous cellular state. Could it be that certain living species can go through a process of rejuvenation over time, and thus move up the phylogenetic tree? A process of de-evolution that scientists might call “reverse phylogenesis”.

    The discoveries of organic molecules in space, in particular on comet Tchouri, update the question of the emergence of life from inert matter in a prebiotic world. Over time, evolution has made it possible to explore an extraordinary diversity of systems, an incredible fauna whose traces persist in fossil form in the Burgess Shale. Only the most robust forms of which we know the current descendants have survived. Life experiments are now much less diversified.

    “Reverse phylogenesis” envisages a de-evolution that would allow to explore again, with extreme freedom, varied, extravagant forms of life, with strange anatomy and enigmatic functioning. The mini-museum presented here reappropriates the unknowns of the living. He questions the forms emerging from our contemporary imagination, mixing the living, artifice and human technologies. A face to face with the fundamental questions that are the nature of life or the fate of biological evolution on earth.

    “Inverse phylogenesis”, between plastic, digital, audiovisual and textual forms, is a proposal that aims to be offbeat and poetic, but which is characterized at the same time, in a roundabout way, by a strong anchoring in reality. Because it is through sensitive forms that we will be able to constitute new imaginaries of the living, richer, more complete, more open too. “Reverse phylogenesis” leads the viewer to re-examine what “the living” and “life” can be.

    Signed by Rémi Boulnois, the scenographic route as well as the design of the lights, are proposed in such a way as to recreate the atmosphere of a scientific museum. The scenography is accompanied by a sound creation by Florent Colautti, which ensures the coherence of the whole.

    The artists lead us there, over time taken backwards. To re-imagine a living thing that comes from almost the same constraints, the same laws as current organisms, but which escapes classification. Forms of life that try out different means of breathing, nutrition, setting in motion, metamorphoses, interacting with their environment… The exhibition ends at time zero, this suspended moment when inert matter first became alive. The point of origin of the thread of life.

    Rejuvenation according to the biologist Braun can be either individual with a return to a previous form (we are always subject to the force of rejuvenation which continues to sculpt our body), or more global, with the rejuvenation of the species through the succession of individuals. The living is not a stable state: it is maintained in its state by the continuous management of flows of growth and destruction, absorption and rejection. Of rejuvenation and aging. Youth and old age are organic and spiritual forces constantly at work and constantly opposing each other. If rejuvenation takes precedence, why not imagine the possibility of des-evolution, and the return to freedom of an “inverse phylogenesis”.

    Creation Golnaz Behrouznia & Dominique Peysson
    Scenographic creation Remi Boulnois
    Sound design Florent Colautti
    Photos ​Golnaz Behrouznia & Dominique Peysson

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