Seth Shafer

Terraformation concerns a fusion of several disparate themes. The first, and perhaps central, theme is that of terraforming. This is the hypothesized large-scale transformation of an inhospitable planetary body into one fit for Earthlike organic life. Popularized in science fiction, serious studies on the procedures for terraforming come from the gradually maturing scientific exploration programs on Earth’s moon, Mars, and Venus. These issues prompt reflection on humanity’s history of colonialism, abuse of resources, lack of environmental concern, and how these might manifest beyond our home planet.

At the same time, Terraformation is inspired by Philip Johnson’s sculptures and architecture at the Fort Worth Water Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas. This urban park contains several named “micro-environments”: Active Water Pool, Aerated Water Pool, Quiet Water Pool, Mountain, Central Square, Stage, and Events Plaza. The style of the Gardens is minimal and angular. They give an abstracted impression of a natural landmark such as a mountain or a river canyon, ignoring many realistic details in favor of sensory appeal.

The connection between terraforming and the Fort Worth Water Gardens is humanity’s attempt to fashion a world after its own design. This world has rough edges and missing details, no oceans and preciously little oxygen. Everything is synthetically derived. We bring our plants and animals, our histories and cultures. We also bring our diseases, our selfishness, and our unchecked ambitions.

Terraformation is a creation story. This piece uses a computer screen to display music notation that changes during the performance based on decisions made by both the musician and the computer. In this way, every performance is unique and unrepeatable.