[   ]CENE | 2021

What characterizes us as a species? The ability to reason was for a long time one of the philosophical points of distinction between humans and other animals. In this Descartes idea, the human being has reason as part of its distinct existence, placing itself as a peculiar species in relation to other living beings. According to this rational way of thinking, the human becomes the center of nature that leads it to place itself as the protagonist of an entire period in history, the Anthropocene (from the Ancient Greek anthropos: human; and cene: new). However, on the side opposite to anthropocentrism, there are those who believe in a gradualist view, in which all species are subject to the same natural laws. According to this, we are all following the same evolutionary path and subject to the same manifestations imposed by the environment on a certain period of time and under a certain set of conditions. In this way, human reasoning is not seen as a unique characteristic of our species.

[   ]cene is a piece that shows the result of simulating an artificial life system. This system has two types of agents: representing humans and other living beings. Both feed on the same resources, while multiplying and dying. Human agents also feed on other living beings and are more aggressive in the consumption of available resources. Two scenarios are presented. In one of them, human agents reproduce at a higher rate than other agents, showing how the overpopulation of one type of agent culminates in the extinction of others and also of themselves. In the other scenario, the multiplication rate of human agents is more moderate, showing how both types can live in a relationship of dependency.

We are still far from knowing whether rationality is what differentiates us as a species, but it is a fact that we humans are capable of formulating knowledge and making decisions. Nevertheless, it is proven that many of these decisions have negatively impacted the planet, triggering an imbalance never seen before. Everyday dozens of species are wiped out of the environment and entire ecosystems are destroyed. We do not know if there is an answer to the question we asked initially. However, the fact that we can read and reflect on this text, already differs us as individuals who can now choose which way to go.

~the sound is inspired by Julia, a sound of a large iceberg that had run aground off Antarctica, recorded in 1999, by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Collaborative work with Pedro M. Cruz (Northeastern University).


2021 · Alter(action)

           Fundação Eugénio de Almeida, Évora, Portugal


Scenario: dependency


Scenario: extinction