Peak Face

There is a facial age of the transformation of the Earth, with a beginning and probably an end.


Terraforming is the process of intelligence transforming its surroundings at the scale of the planet. The Facial Phase proposes that the terraforming has a period that has been dominated by the face which began around the Cambrian Explosion (~541 mya) and has lasted until now. The face began as an evolutionary adaptation that collected sensory organs at the front-ends of animals. From this perspective, the face is primarily a platform for changing the environment and only secondarily an index of human identity.

Since the facial phase has a determinate starting date, we can anticipate that it’s also going to end at some point in the future. It may even be that we are on the precipice of a post-facial phase of the terraforming, where synthetic, abiotic forms of intelligence become key agents of reshaping the surface of the Earth. The video presentation covers the origins of the facial face of the terraforming; the ways in which the strange collection of sensory organs at the front-ends of most animal species has shaped the biosphere, atmosphere and upper lithosphere; and why their agency may not last for much longer.

Check out our Notion for a catalog of first faces.

Instagram Filters

M.C. Abbott
María Buey González
Carl Olsson

Creative Director
María Buey Gonzáles

Pablo Mirón and Juan Vacas

Sound Editing
Cooper Dylan

This project was developed as part of the Terraforming research program at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design.

Program Directors Benjamin H. Bratton, Nicolay Boyadjiediv
Executive Director Olga Tenisheva
Program Producer Sona Gasparyan
Student Coordinator Dasha Silkina