EON. The Story of the Fossils is a groundbreaking art/ science book created by visual ecologist, Aviva Reed. This timely book combines exquisite illustrations with scientific prose to explore the current theory of evolution. In an age of ever increasing complexity, this book combines creative thinking, inspirational imagery and scientific accuracy, encouraging the reader to comprehend the nearly unfathomable concept that is deep time; including that all life is connected in life through an ancient cycling of molecules, that stability is dynamic and changing in the name of adaption, and that we continue to grow together with all organisms on the planet in a reciprocal and collaborative movement towards survival. This book also implicates microbes as our ancestors and long life collaborators, creating atmospheres and geology. EON asks “What we can learn from billions of years of being part of an evolving ecosystem?
Author & illustrator Aviva Reed believes this information will encourage a comfort in change as the norm, and inform future thinking towards sustainability. The EON book is a culmination of a decades worth of research, artmaking and study by artist, scientist, Aviva Reed. It is has been edited by prominent paleontologist and ethicist, Professor John Buckeridge (RMIT).
What can we learn from billions of years of being part of an evolving ecosystem?
In telling stories of evolution we recognise our complicity, our context, our connectedness, our unity with everything as a writhing, chemical concoction. These are all ideas attributed to ecophilosphy, a process of reflection and resituating which embraces the mess that is complexity as a beautiful unfolding emergence of possibility. Evolution is a driving force, a verb of process that weaves chemical cocktails into material entities and simultaneously unravels known certainties into potential futures made up of our ancestral legacies. It helps us recognize that the very first living lifeform is still alive in each and everything that is metabolizing, from bacteria to human. Evolution is a unifying concept that reflects the multidisciplinary nature of science. It integrates information from the domains of biology, geology, chemistry, archeology, genetics and ecology. Evolution is driven by changes in the variation of genes due to mutations, sex and recombination and gene flow. The outcomes includes organisms and their ability to adapt, co- evolve, co- operate, speciate and to become extinct. The outcome is also a rich matrix of relationships.
Storying our lives with narratives has been a long time cultural practice for building scaffoldings of support and comfort, a way to know, and get to know ourselves, in our worlds for our times. The stories we tell shape who we are and who we become, which beckons the question, why do we not tell more stories of our evolutionary lives? Of our ancestral beginnings and becomings?
Exploring the story of evolution can be scary. Filled with mystery and voids of deep time, this story feels to be a giant leap into an eternal earthquake of change, a seismic tremor of existential awe. But, it is in this space of wonder and mystery, that a gentle holding of all things, ourselves as all things, can seep into our being, a momentary appreciation of change as a beautiful sculpting force. Only through the expansion of our imagination attempting to grapple with these immense scales and processes, temporally and spatially, is it even possible to attempt the imagining of one ‘s own molecular memory: that “our bones were once stone, and our air cycled our eons, shared with our ancestors”. Through these grandiose projections of self into a unifying concept of evolution, can real resituating of self into a present of interconnection and interrelated life become.
The beauty of evolutionary stories is that they embrace the rigorous, robust science of ecology, whilst also placing every living being into a story. The story that is our story. Where the very first living thing is still alive in each and everything alive. Evolutionary stories evoke patterns, recognitions and connections, a blueprint similar to a multi dimensional mapping tool for gaining perspective into interconnection, biological growth and decay into nutritious decay. Evolutionary stories help us embrace the unknowns of death, by providing the poetic analogy of the chemical matrix of cycling that situates us, as alive, in an eon long cycle of recycling. It reminds us that we are the ancestors of tomorrow.
The Small Friends book series tell stories about microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists, viruses) and the intimate relationships they form with larger forms of life. Written for nature lovers of all ages, the books promote the idea that cooperation, not just competition is a dominant paradigm of nature. They portray microbes in a positive light, countering misguided hysteria around ‘germs’ and hygiene and acknowledge the fundamental role that these tiny organisms play within our ecosystem. Books can be purchased at CSIRO Publishing.
Projects thus far include:
Zobi and the Zoox: a journey into the microscopic world at the heart of all coral reefs. Featuring a cast of molecules, microbes and mucus, the story explores the effects of a warming ocean on a tiny symbiotic community living in a coral polyp called Darian. Zobi and the Zoox is a great tool for explaining the science behind coral bleaching.
The Squid, the Vibrio & the Moon: a story inspired by the incredible relationship that exists between the Hawaiian Bobtail squid and the bioluminescent bacteria, Vibrio fischeri.
Adventures in the soil: released 2019
Awards: The Squid, the Vibrio & the Moon - Winner of a Bronze medal in the Children’s eBook category in 2015 US Independent Publisher (IPPY) awards. Zobi and the Zoox - Winner of a Puggle (children’s choice award) 2015 Environmental Award for Children’s Literature.
- Shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year award.