INTERGALACTIC: SPACE APE MURAL REMINDS US OF OUR HUMBLE ORIGINS

Sometimes it takes a bold yet cognitively dissonant vision to center our thoughts on what’s really important in life, about who we really are, the meaning of life (or whether there’s a larger meaning), and our place in the universe. In other words, sometimes it takes a visually arresting image to make us contemplate basic existential shit. That’s at the core of all great art, really. Take, for example, the excellent mural by Los Angeles-based artist Jimmy Danko in Santa Monica. The mural depicts a cartoonish gorilla (or is it a chimpanzee?) in a retro-style astronaut’s helmet. He has a banana affixed to his back like jetpack in its own special holder branded with a lighting bolt logo. The ape has just tossed a paper plane aloft. The mural is comical, playful, and has a graphic-designy feel. But beneath its initial bright and whimsical impression there’s a deeper, more evocative reading available. Seeing the gorilla so naturally human-like in the context of advanced human technology is to remind us of how not very far apart we are really from our own humble origins. Monkeys are our close evolutionary relatives. And even with our human complexity and technological achievements, we are but animals on this planet, a byproduct of nature, its energy and chemical interactions across billions of years. And like the gorillas discovering how to use bones as weapons in director Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” we are at any moment one small evolutionary step away from transformation. We’ve come a long way, baby. We are humbled. And the mural is cool.