Intelligent Design, 2008

HD Digital video, 16:9
08:47 min.
Filmed in Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador
Camera and sound by Marcus Coates
Produced by Galápagos Conservation Trust and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Galápagos Artists’ Residency Programme

During a residency on the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, Coates spent many hours with the captive giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station. He filmed two Galápagos giant tortoises unsuccessfully attempting to mate. Despite their prehistoric otherworldliness, he was drawn to the human-like vocal expression in their efforts.

‘Intelligent Design’ is an idea developed by a group of American creationists in the 1980s in opposition to Darwin’s theory of natural selection. It proposes that all life, because of its ingenuity, must have been designed by an intelligent creator. Coates’s footage of the failed attempt to mate questions the idea of perfection that this assumes.