The Project

Gaian Systems is a transdisciplinary research project to cultivate new forms and practices of planetary cognition. It was initiated in early 2019 by Bruce Clarke, the 2018-2019 Library of Congress Chair of Astrobiology, and David McConville and Dawn Danby of Spherical.

Inspired by Aldo Leopold’s appeal at mid-twentieth century to “think like a mountain” and the iconic photographs of Earth from space, we're exploring the central question: 

What does it mean to think like a living planet?

Thinking is a form of cognition, but cognition also occurs both above and below the level of thought. Cognitive processes connect human and nonhuman bodies and minds to the planet where they live.

To us, planetary cognition means sensing and responding like a planet. Over and above every living system on Earth is a wider consortium of systemic processes--the living planet, or Gaia the supraorganism--coupling the geosphere and the biosphere together. Humanity and its expanding technosphere have their being within this unique place of residence alongside other forms of life and their geological workings.

By collaborating with partners on curation, research, and creation, our aim is to communicate the feeling and the knowledge of humanity’s participation within Earth’s supraorganic processes.  

We are currently exploring sensory-immersive and conceptual-speculative ways of grasping 

·      our participation in planetary systems, through the lens of Gaia Theory
·      our embeddedness in a living planet
·      our part in enhancing the viability of the planetary supraorganism

This entails experimenting with different ways to foster comprehensive and compelling appreciation for the entangled reciprocities and regenerative capacities of planetary processes. How can we most effectively reorient our view of Earth from a collection of exploitable resources to a systemic complex of dynamic and intertwined processes?