Since 2001, geochimists have coined the term « critical zone » to name the thin outer veneer of Earth’s surface, extending from the top of the vegetation canopy down to the subsurface depths of fresh groundwater. This zone is indeed critical because it supports much of the terrestrial biosphere and life, including humanity. The objective of this project is to explore how our understanding of life on Earth has evolved or has been made more complex with new images, models, narratives and metaphors, including this notion of the critical zone, especially when it seems to get beyond our sense perception. How art and literature, along with science, have contributed to observing and visualizing what is beyond our senses? The project “Critical Zone : Observing and Staging Life” will develop this question in two main directions, historical and esthetic. We shall explore how the arts can produce new models that complement and enter in a fruitful dialogue with scientific models.