Eduardo Kac : Genesis

Image: Exit Art

Genesis, 1999

Transgenic artwork linked to internet
dimensions variable
Peter Gena, DNA Music Synthesis
Charles Strom, MD, PhD, DNA Consultation and Bacterial Cloning
Jon Fisher, Programming and Electronics
Mike Davis, Video consultant
Rita Ciurlionis, biological consultation and technical support
Courtesy of Julia Friedman and Associates


Artist statement from Paradise Now:

I investigate the philosophical and political dimensions of communications processes. Equally concerned with the aesthetic and the social aspects of verbal and nonverbal interactions, I examine linguistic systems, dialogic exchanges, and interspecies communication. In 1998, to further expand my investigation of communications processes, I proposed Transgenic Art, a new art form based on the use of genetic engineering techniques to transfer synthetic genes to an organism or to transfer natural genetic material from one species into another in order to create unique living beings. The nature of this new art is defined not only by the birth and growth of a new plant or animal, but above all by the nature of the relationship between artist, public, and transgenic organismñwhich must be respected, loved, and nurtured like any other organism. [1]



  • The work is an installation that includes projection and sound. Kac explains that the bacteria are projected to "render them more or less on a human scale," and to "put ourselves a little bit in that ‘Umwelt’ [environment] of the bacteria." [2]
  • It explores the relationship between biology, belief systems,information technology, dialogical interaction, ethics, and the Internet. The key element of the work is an "artist's gene", a synthetic gene that was created by Kac.

The Making of Genesis, 1999
  • Copied the verse from book of Genesis in an Internet Bible, "Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth"
  • Converted it into Morse Code, then from this code in to genetic code, using an schema he developed for this translation
  • Scientists synthesized this DNA sequence for him and inserted it in to bacteria
  • The bacteria are grown and displayed under an ultraviolet light in an almost dark room
  • The UV light is turned on/off by visitors to the project's website
  • The UV light is a mutagen, and acts to introduce changes in to the DNA sequence over time, this sequence can later be isolated and examined to read the resulting sequence.
Image: Exit Art    






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