Welcome to The Species of Origin - a live site that actively invites you to contribute as well as discover new thinking on Charles Darwin and contemporary art and culture. We aim to offer creative support to a set of artistic projects that will unfold in future years from this AHRC-funded work

The Species of Origin


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Darwin's controversial and contested theory of evolution remains a landmark of western intellectual endeavour. Evolutionist thinking has permeated many disciplines from the natural and social sciences, and philosophy. Although the context of controversy has changed within evolutionary thinking, scientists, theologians, theorists and cultural practitioners still actively engage with Darwinism, whether in the spirit of opposition, modification or refinement.

This project asserts the potential for contemporary art practice to re-imagine Darwin's work within a current context, to draw out, in particular, some of the most significant ideas embedded in his thought and of others.

There is great potential application and benefit to such a project, given the amount of attention there will be on Darwin in 2009, and the popularity and persistence of arts and science based projects in areas of wide cultural interest. But how can this be done in original, exciting and relevant ways?

Interdisciplinary Work

The Species of Origin adopts a model inspired by Darwin's famous voyage on the Beagle (1831-6). This iconic boat represents, in effect, a small interdisciplinary team of people working in diverse traditions and spheres to bring new insights into the field of the natural sciences.

Contemporary participants navigate through this extraordinary archipelago of ideas, by means of Reading Groups, Workshops and contributions to the Creative Resource.

While participants bring their own disciplinary research methods with them, we aim to achieve a genuine exchange of ideas and insights. Consequently, willingness to communicate and share ideas at 'entry level' is encouraged throughout.

One result will be a Creative Resource of texts and images that will fuel future parts of the project up to 2009 and beyond. Deposits into the Creative Resource will be akin to the practice in the Beagle expedition, namely the periodic crating and posting of research materials at each port of call into an increasingly comprehensive depository back 'at home'. Early academic papers and the like would also represent early 'cratings' of the work undertaken in this first year.

A Creative Resource

We are working towards a Creative Resource which will incorporate the following:

A 'Darwin Apparatus'

This would offer the many contemporary projects around Darwin in 2009 an interdisciplinary platform and organisational structure to assist in a variety of projects in the UK and abroad. This option sits alongside and distinct from any set of projects organised by the main participants here.

Who are we?

Useful scientific references

Principal Investigator:

Dr Andrew Patrizio (Reader)
Research Department,
Edinburgh College of Art,
Evolution House, West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LE
+44 (0)131 221 6166


Prof Emilios Christodoulidis
School of Law, University of Glasgow, Glasgow
G12 8QQ. e.christodoulidis@law.gla.ac.uk
+44 (0)141 330 2471

Project Partners:
Dr Bob Bloomfield

(Head of Innovation and Special Projects)
Natural History Museum. Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD

Bergit Arends (Art Curator)

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD

Research Associate: Dr Sara Barnes

Research Zone, Edinburgh College of Art
Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9DF
Tel +44 (0)131 221 6187
Fax +44 (0)131 221 6157

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