Nowhere in the world is the topic of corn so hotly debated as in Mexico, where maize was first domesticated 8,000 years ago. Corn is not only an essential staple of the Mexican diet, but it also has deep religious, social, and cultural significance--a distinction that many activists fear is threatened by genetically modified corn. To rally support behind Mexico's native corn strands, design studio Maizz Visual created Dioses del Maíz, an audiovisual installation that projects the faces of Pre-Hispanic corn gods atop four trees in Mexico City's Parque México.
To meet surging demand for corn and population growth, Mexico currently imports a significant amount of its corn from the United States, and specifically from mega firms like GM-proponent Monsanto. Although the country remains divided over the topic of transgenic corn, a Mexican judge made headlines last September when he banned the cultivation of genetically modified corn in Mexico; Monsanto is currently contesting that ruling.
While proponents of transgenic corn cite the benefits of increased domestic crop yield due to higher resistance to herbicides, drought, and insect pests, critics warn that genetically modified maize threatens agricultural diversity and the Mexican corn culture. Critics also warn that allowing Monsanto to move forward with plans to plant 2.5 million hectares of GM corn opens the door to the privatization of the maize seed market to a select few mega corporations.
Maizz Visual’s recent audiovisual installation raised awareness about the concerns of GM corn critics. Eight monumental 3D faces depicting Pre-Hispanic gods related to the corn harvest were projected onto the Parque México tree canopy for two nights in front of thousands of people. The green faces, which moved through smooth 3D video transitions, were specially prepared so that two projections could fit on a single tree at once. Pre-Hispanic music, sounds, and voices complemented the installation. The presented gods included: Cocijo I & II, water Gods for Zapotecs; Tlaloc I & II, water Gods for Aztec & Olmeca cultures; Quetzalcoaltl, The God who obtained the first maize seed in Aztec mithology; Chalchiuhticue, Fertility and corn harvest Goddess for Aztecs; and Xilonen, Corn Goddess for Aztecs.