Gaia and a Girl

Gaia and a girl


GAIA AND A GIRL explores consumption, eroticism, and disassociation through the narrative of a human girl genetically engineered to breathe in the conditions of a planet colonized by humans. GAIA AND A GIRL uses science fiction as a poetic framework to discuss the body and its relationship to trauma, repetition, and its environment. The project will take the form of a 15-20 minute video and a 40-60 page book.

GAIA, the planet, exists at odds with its colonizers. The human settlement, unable to integrate, replicates the conditions found on Earth: the heavier gravitational force, the sparser, oxygen based gaseous composition of its atmosphere. Viewers of GAIA AND A GIRL will explore the differences between the colony and the planet it occupies through the experience of THE GIRL, whose genetically engineered body nevertheless faces complications as she tries to navigate these two very different planes.


In order to walk in the heavy gravity of the human colony, THE GIRL does intense, repetitive strength training exercises and learns to endure the pain that passing through the colony causes. Her stomach and intestines are meant for the lighter world beyond the colony, meaning that while she’s there, she’s unable to consume and digest nutrients. Though she can survive, she is unable to consume, quite literally, humanity’s social, economic, and material culture.

The planet itself will be shot in the Pink Coral Sand Dunes in Utah, and the man-made elements (the colony, abandoned rovers, space trash) will be 2D animation inserted into the landscape with After Effects. This treatment will calibrate the viewer’s experience with the girl’s: the land and soundscapes of GAIA reminiscent of the viewer’s own world, stressing the strangeness of the colony’s flatness and the way sound within the colony slows down and stretches out compared to sound on the rest of the planet.


The shots, long and still, cut between the scene of her birth, her extensive and strenuous workout routine, and her erotic fascination with a human in the colony who she loves but cannot touch, with little respect for chronological hierarchy. The video is repetitive and slow, continually asserting the girl’s strength training as “an active force producing difference.” The book reads from both sides inward, left-to-right containing maps and ephemera from the planet, and right-to-left containing maps and ephemera from the human’s constructed world. As the book approaches its centerfold, the two sections collapse into themselves, blurring the lines between the two worlds and THE GIRL’s placement within them.

In the repetition of takes, of exercises, and of pages, the narrative temporally ruptures, destroying and rebuilding itself—like a torn muscle. GAIA AND A GIRL is inspired by the works of Mary Maggic, Kathy Acker, and Ursula Mayer, as well as the lives and deaths of my cousins, Rachel and Ruth Dunlap, who were murdered in Utah.