The idea that humans possess a deep affinity for other living things, and the landscapes in which we live, is explored in the theory of biophilia, which was first proposed by the biologist Edward O. Wilson. Wilson writes as a scientist, and as a conservationist, addressing the devastating loss of biodiversity that is one of the chief characteristics of the modern world. Exploring the consequences of this loss on us humans from an evolutionary perspective, Wilson suggests that in becoming disconnected from nature, we disconnect ourselves from the very thing that enabled us to become human. We profoundly damage our sense of humanity. We forget who and what we are.
Wilson writes as a practicing biologist, but also as a witness, his books full of exquisitely vivid images of the landscapes – often rainforests – in which he works. Above Me The Wide Blue Sky also bears witness to the world, in the form of a celebration. The performance text revels in the everyday beauty, brutality, earthiness and wonder of swallows, slugs, walking, gardening, birds in song, childhood holidays on wide open beaches, star-filled skies, hedgehogs, beech trees, rain, fog, rats, bats, rivers in flood, light. By marking these things we say, “this is important”. It’s a celebration. But the project is also an elegy: we start to think how impoverished the world would be if all such things we lost.