Erin Espelie

What Part of the Earth Is Inhabited

2009, 6 minutes, Color, Silent Super 8 film mastered to digital video

“The oldness and youthfulness of the earth are wonderful.” — Robert Walser, 1925

Boletus, amaryllis, anolis, listeria, wisteria, nematoceara: nothing is linear in evolution, nor in life nor in light. We radiate out on waves, then flux along the spokes of an orb-weaver’s web, the barbs of a boundary fence. Species in a constant state of exchange: elements, acids, sugars, viruses, ideas.

The way a lichen exists as a single unit, and yet functions as two classifiably distinct creatures, a fungus and an algae (or a cyanobacteria). Who inhabits who, and who is who? Defined by readings and voyages made, people dead and loved, we recombine.

The “speck” we have to live on—as Pliny the Elder called the livable part of our planet—has grown even smaller.

What Part Guanaco
What Part Waterfall

Plants, age-old rocks, algae, fungus, lizards, crabs, and other sea creatures pass before the camera, but for the presence of which we might imagine they have done so for eons quite indifferent to the curiosity and observations of the human race . . . [T]his film seems bent on humbling our conceptions of the world, reminding us of how much we will never see or know.

- Tony Pipolo (Millenium Film Journal, 2009)
What Part Bigbang
What Part Feet