Imagery of Neo Primitive Life 


A single phylogenic tree maps the evolutionary relationships among all life on Earth. Although the origin of life remains unclear, scientists are drawing closer to identifying LUCA, the last universal common ancestor to exist before life split into the three domains of bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes.

Today, the novel coronavirus is forcing us to create new ways of functioning as a society, but viruses also cast ripples through the established definitions of life. Are viruses alive or not? The argument is made that we cannot really say something is a living being if it lacks a cellular structure, cannot survive without the cellular activities of a host organism, and has no metabolic, respiratory, or excretory system. Yet viruses reproduce. They are matter with the ability to self-replicate, impossible to categorize as either animate or inanimate. What is certain, however, is that viruses have survived on Earth for far longer than we humans.

When I imagine the primitive life forms of prehistoric times, my thoughts arrive at the shapes and movements of cells and bacteria within my own body, invisible to the naked eye but ceaselessly passed down across generations. They have evolved through many stages and at this very moment continue their unending activity within human bodies living in a technological society capable of manipulating genetic material. Over 500 species of bacteria inhabit the human body, with more than 100 trillion bacteria living in each of us. In a sense, humans are collective superorganisms comprising a sophisticated entwinement of microorganisms and human cells.

Although this project is quite far from actual bioscience, the primitive life forms that live on within the natural environment of the human body in contemporary society where genetic engineering has developed—whether they are like some sort of aquatic organism, bacteria, or plant—have taken on new shapes and wisdom within my imagination. Similar to eukaryotes, these neo primitive organisms are vigorously coming to life.

- Eriko Kaniwa

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