Emergence - The Well Toronto




Emergence by Dustin Yellin braids together three threads–the origin of the universe, the birth of life, and the creation of computing. The sculpture depicts a giant figure modeled from the World Tree, a mythological concept found across multiple cultures that connects the Earth to the stars. Mirroring various evolutionary hypotheses, Emergence grows out of a base plate that represents a primordial soup from which all life on Earth developed. Various vignettes and fantastical elements are scattered throughout the figure’s body: a cat with the rear of a dog stares into a toilet to see its reflection like Narcissus; an astronaut chick hatches out of a geodesic sphere; a battery-operated frog licks a Black Hole in the form of a bagel; a monkey emerges from a monkey brain held up by a large-lipped rotisserie chicken; hybrid animal/human astronauts explore the entire scene from top to bottom, making their way up to the moon.

Included among these surrealist details are many elements relating to the sculpture’s overarching themes of cosmology, mythology, and technology, interspersed with nods to Ontario, such as local flora and fauna, and major Canadian inventions. These many details add up to tell various stories of how small things come together to form more complex systems. Like an open-source code, these stories are not determined, and visitors are encouraged to decipher the artwork and construct their own narratives. More details catch the eye the longer one looks – discover the meaning behind each element by accessing the Emergence Discovery Handbook.


Dustin Yellin tells stories that weave together the diverse forces of nature and technology. Through his multidisciplinary body of work, which includes object making, painting and animation, Yellin draws attention to the interconnectivity of all beings and things. His approach tunnels across traditionally siloed fields so as to crystallize the idea that both the human world, and all other worlds around us, are a collection of enmeshed networks – even if many are hidden. Yellin’s glass works in particular, in which paint and images clipped from various print media are embedded within laminated glass sheets to form grand pictographic allegories, invite viewers to engage with the legions of their own consciousness and its embodied emotions, as well as that of our collective society and its infrastructures. The artist balances descriptive poetry with a prescriptive social practice so as to span new ways of seeing and being, and build a bridge to a more holistic world.

Visit Dustin Yellin’s website