All Within the Circle of Willis (not to be confused with a circle of willies) follows Mat Brown’s Endocrine series as a major anthropomorphised exploration of the evolution of animal forms throughout deep time.
Beginning with the formation of the earth 4.5 billion years ago, the drawings follow the development of life on earth from a human perspective. Each drawing has a naked human figure as a reminder that any imagined reconstruction of the past can only be the product of our human imagination, no matter the depth of research or perceived objectivity.
The series was made over several years, and published in book form in 2011 in a signed limited edition.
Here is the explanation of the development of Mat Brown’s creative and philosophical process in his own words:
The Circle of Willis is an antiquated name for the arterial circle at the base of the brain that receives and distributes all the blood that is pumped up the two internal carotid arteries traveling into the brain. This crucial artery supplies the brain and all its functions with fuel, elegantly wrapped around the pituitary gland, the Circle of Willis serves as a gateway between the mind, body and the environment. All Within the Circle of Willis refers to the notion that all the world and all the universe is both contained within the human mind, and the mind as a part of the whole is contained within the infinite universe.
The origin of life on earth has been the focus of both religion and science for as long as they have existed, and is essential to the foundation of any world view. A world view however is subjective; and like religion and science, like our understanding of ourselves and our perception of the world, is flawed and mutable.
The twenty-first century western world view of the evolution of life on earth is founded on concepts born of the industrial revolution and distorted by a post war materialist fantasy. This perspective has been formed by new myths, the myths of science. One of the great myths of science is gradual progress through competition, natural selection, the idea that individual organisms struggle against one another competing for the prize of survival. This twenty-first century creation myth is being reformed in the face of a centuries-old foundation, now crumbling, unable to withstand the weight of so many new anomalous functions of the living earth.
The notion of a beginning stems from the Old Testament concept of creation and the development of a lineage. Western science came directly out of the Christian church, and until very recently was still using their creation myth. This basic starting point neglects the now obvious circumstance that all organisms live, reproduce and die in symbiosis with each other and their environment, exchanging resources as a growing cooperative whole with no individual separation and no need for the metaphor of competition. Today western science institutions proclaim the uselessness of religion while maintaining a structurally identical metaphor for their story of evolution, that everything was created from nothing and developed through the imperial laws of nature, one step at a time, slowly growing ever closer to the present incarnation of us, the Immaculate Homo.
In the process of evolution viruses act as a catalyst transferring information between organisms from the six kingdoms of life: archaea, bacteria, protista, plantae, fungi, and animalia. Viruses are information itself, the seventh kingdom of life. It was through the free hands of the first ancient bipedal apes that this seventh kingdom of life allowed an external manifestation of information, tools, technology. It was these created objects that gave birth to humanity by shaping the behaviour of our ancestors and fuelling the expansion of an object-centric consciousness.
We have not made our world. We do not have dominion over nature; rather the flow of information, viruses and the symbiotic interaction of all the kingdoms of life defines our world. Our ability to create artefacts is like the reef building coral polyp; we construct homes which makes it possible for us to thrive in differing environments the same way that the calcite apartment blocks of the coral define their polyp world.
This symbiotic relationship between externalised information in the form of technology and internalised information in the form of thought created our symbolic language and gave rise to our gods, mysteries and science. Ideas, myths and scientific theories are shaping our minds and bodies every day, domesticating populations and forming cultures. This worldview is not separate from our technologies, ideas and viruses, it is dictated by them. The use of tools and the inseparable link between our minds and the things they create is a reciprocal process, all within the Circle of Willis, empires are built not with tools but by them.