Eduardo Kac

     
 
Eduardo Kac: http://www.ekac.org
 
"More than make visible the invisible, art needs to raise our awareness of what firmly remains beyond our visual reach but which, nonetheless, affects us directly."[1]
 

"Transgenic art, I propose, is 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, to create unique living beings."[5]

 
"Transgenic art, by contrast, offers a concept of aesthetics that emphasizes the social rather than the formal aspects of life and biodiversity, that challenges notions of genetic purity, that incorporates precise work at the genomic level, and that reveals the fluidity of the concept of species in an ever increasingly transgenic social context."
 
"Since the domain of art is symbolic even when intervening directly in a given context [32], art can contribute to reveal the cultural implications of the revolution underway and offer different ways of thinking about and with biotechnology."[6]
 
"Transgenic art can help science to recognize the role of relational and communicational issues in the development of organisms. It can help culture by unmasking the popular belief that DNA is the "master molecule" through an emphasis on the whole organism and the environment (the context). At last, transgenic art can contribute to the field of aesthetics by opening up the new symbolic and pragmatic dimension of art as the literal creation of and responsibility for life."[6]
 
           
 
  The Eigth Day

 
  GFP Bunny
           
          A different view on GFP Bunny
         
 
  Genesis

 

 

 
  Transgenic Art
           
 

Some quotes from: TRANSGENIC ART Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Vol. 6, N. 11, December 1998, n/p/n (http://mitpress.mit.edu/e-journals/LEA/) - ISSN: 1071-4391. [5]

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 organism.

I suggest that artists can contribute to increase global biodiversity by inventing new life forms.

There is no transgenic art without a firm commitment to and responsibility for the new life form thus created. Ethical concerns are paramount in any artwork, and they become more crucial than ever in the context of bio art. From the perspective of interspecies communication, transgenic art calls for a dialogical relationship between artist, creature/artwork, and those who come in contact with it.

Selective breeding is a long-term technique based on the indirect manipulation of the genetic material of two or more organisms and is responsible for many of the crops we eat and the livestock we raise.

Chimeras, however, are no longer imaginary; today, nearly 20 years after the first transgenic animal, they are being routinely created in laboratories and are slowly becoming part of the larger genescape. Some recent scientific examples are pigs that produce human proteins [11], plants that produce plastic [12], and goats with spider genes designed to produce a strong and biodegradable fabric [13].

...a distinctive trait of transgenic art is that the genetic material is manipulated directly: the foreign DNA is precisely integrated into the host genome. In addition to genetic transfer of existing genes from one species to another, we can also speak of "artist's genes," i.e., chimeric genes or new genetic information completely created by the artist through the complementary bases A (adenine) and T (thymine) or C (cytosine) and G (guanine). This means that artists now can not only combine genes from different species but easily write a DNA sequence on their word processors, email it to a commercial synthesis facility, and in less than a week receive a test tube with millions of molecules of DNA with the expected sequence.

The artist literally becomes a genetic programmer who can create life forms by writing or altering this code.

With the creation and procreation of bioluminescent mammals and other creatures in the future [14], dialogical interspecies communication will change profoundly what we currently understand as interactive art. These animals are to be loved and nurtured just like any other animal.

The use of genetics in art offers a reflection on these new developments from a social and ethical point of view.

As the concept of species based on breeding barriers is undone through genetic engineering [23], the very notion of what it means to be human is at stake [24]. However, this does not constitute an ontological crisis. To be human will mean that the human genome is, not a limitation, but our starting point.

 
 
 
 

References

     
 
[1]
  http://www.geneart.org/kac.htm
[2]
  http://www.sciam.com/exhibit/2000/100200gene
[3]
 

http://www.ekac.org/geninfo.html

[4]
  http://www.ekac.org
[5]
  http://www.ekac.org/transgenic.html
[6]
  http://www.ekac.org/gfpbunny.html
 

Images: http://www.ekac.org