The Xenophon Project

An excerpt

Siobhan McGibbon / Maeve O'Lynn

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Lab Report from Post-Doctoral Thesis.

Author: Dr Elihu Harris.

Doctoral Supervisor: Professor Rhoby Angell

Institution: R’lyeh University

Date: March 2079

Content: Origins and results of R’lyeh Study 2-730.

Enclosed here-in is the lab data and specimen analysis from a study carried out by a team at R’lyeh University, directed by post-doctoral researcher Dr Elihu Harris, under the supervision of Professor Rhoby Angell.

The study was carried out between September 2078 and January 2079. The study conducted forms part of a broader research within the University concerning itself with the development and seemingly rapid evolution of the xenothorpean race.

Study 2-730 was carried out by a multi-disciplinary team of evolutionary biologist, geneticists, ecologists and, innovatively, artists.

Hypothesis: The developing and evolving para-human species is neither mammal, amphibian, reptile, bird nor insect. Their reproduction pattern is likely to differ significantly from that of humans.

Our team was given, as a general brief, the task of observing and attempting to replicate and then manipulate the breeding pattern of the xenothorpean species.

The first successful births of laboratory engineered since conception para humans were born in 2058.

In 2076 volunteers were selected to take part in the first study of reproductive capability and pattern.

A test subject group of 15 were chosen.

The results of the initial study did not surprise – para-humans differ from their human progenitors in every respect from DNA and lifespan to reproductive cycles.

What we did not anticipate is that in one generation alone, para-humans have evolved from the need to carry their children until birth, to laying spawn in water.

While conception occurs in much the same manner as with humans, within 12 weeks the para-human must seek out a safe body of water. Unlike the frog, a para-human must choose warm water, and unlike the zebrafish this must ideally be salinated, or the spawn will perish.

A human baby will be born approximately 38 weeks from conception, a tadpole will emerge from frogspawn after around 10 days. A zebrafish will emerge after around 2 days. A para-human will emerge after 6 weeks. A typical number of infants born to a para-human is twelve. A para-human appears to be able to spawn annually, if desired. This process is not innate but consciously chosen.

The average life span of the para-human is not known, but conservative estimates place this at 250 years. Sexual maturity is reached at 14 years. Assuming a reproductive life span of 200 years, and the ability to produce 12 offspring per year, one female para-human could be the progenitor of 2400 offspring, who could each reproduce at least 2400 offspring, and so forth.

Their numbers are growing.

Their characteristics are morphing.

Scientific study and reflection has taught us that the known universe of three dimensions embraces the merest fraction of the whole cosmos of substance and energy.

This is not a thing of unmitigated happiness.


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The Xenothorpian Mythos, Animation still, 2015

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The Xenothorpian Mythos, Animation still, 2015

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Future anatomies, Animation still, 2016 


Project Statement 

The future of the human species is an ever-expanding field, with the borders of the possible and the ethical being repeatedly redrawn and increasingly re-imagined. This proposed project explores the liminal territory between the known and the unknown, the rational and the irrational, the real and the imagined.

McGibbon O’Lynn have created the world of the Xenothorpeans, a fictional race of post-humans who were able to enhance their anatomy and genetic makeup with medical therapies, and the post-human societies they now inhabit. With each body of work, the artistic duo continue to build upon the narrative of this post-human world, which increasingly becomes both literally and figuratively submerged, and ponder different dimensions and the consequences of enhancements.

Xenophon: Museum of the Yet to Come, of which is this is an excerpt, is an archive from a post-human future where a variety of post-human species have been engineered. Their existence is a sci-fi-inspired commentary that speaks to many things including current research in bio-inspiration, regenerative medicine, stem cell applications, trans-humanism and immortality. The project’s central line of enquiry is, however, the underlying concept of what it means to be human, and the boundaries, dilemmas and processes to be encountered in becoming something other than human. How do we relate to each other today, and how will we relate to these enhanced humans?

To express this vision McGibbon O’Lynn employ an array of mediums including film, animation, text, audio, drawing and sculpture. ​


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The message, Animation still, 2016 


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Regenerative Experiment Two, Animation still, 2017 


McGibbon O’Lynn Bio

Irish based artist Siobhan McGibbon and writer and lecturer Maeve O’Lynn began collaborating on The Xenophon Project in 2015; a project which arose from McGibbon's period as Artist in Residence on the Chimera Art and Science Programme at ​CÚRAM (Centre for Research in Medical Devices) at NUI Galway and at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI). Together they employ a multi-disciplinary approach, combining contemporary arts practice, narrative and scientific research to imagine the future of the human species.  McGibbon O’Lynn have exhibited in The Future is Already Here, Galway City Museum (2015) and Why is it Always December, The Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown (2016). Extracts from The Xenophon Project have also been published in the Winter 2016 issue of the literary journal, The Stinging Fly and Abridged 0 - 45. Upcoming exhibitions include a commissioned piece in In Case of Emergency at Science Gallery Dublin, Oct 2017 and Tulca Festival of Visual Arts in Galway, Nov 2017.

Xenophon: Museum of the Yet to Come is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.