Slowly Sinking —a series of projects inspired by Charles Darwin's book The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms— began to take shape during June of 2014 when artist Ben Sisto (New York) collaborated with a London-based pagan guide called Vickie Hayward to instigate a project involving worms residing in the Middlesex Filter Beds Weir area of Hackney Marshes / Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve.
In Formation, Darwin describes a process by which objects, including ancient ruins and large stones, are slowly lowered into the earth over generations as a result of worms bringing soil up to the surface from their burrows. In 2014, Hayward chose a site and cleansed three 1£ coins with sage, which Sisto then placed on the earth's surface with a coin toss in the hopes they would be buried by worms.
In another section of the book, Darwin details his studies on the senses of worms, making use of a piano, a bassoon and his own shouts as a means of testing their reaction to sound. In 2017, Sisto produced Burial of the Remains: a text/score based on Darwin's writings which he then recited aloud to an audience of worms.
As a final nod to Darwin's efforts, the pair visited the Reserves again on the morning of 22 March 2017 with tools supplied by the Earthworm Society of Britain, and conducted an amateur survey of soil conditions and the local worm population.