Week 3 Response : Bioart

After attending this week’s lecture, I find the concept and examples of Bio-art extremely intriguing.

Bioart is defined as “practices in which artists work with living forms, processes, organisms, and/or tissue — using cloning, genetic engineering, tissue culturing, and other methods to work with living matter or to manufacture life, often in labs and sometimes collaboratively with scientists.” in professor’s slides.

Bioart blurs the clear boundaries of arts and science. It lays in the grey area of arts and science. For example, Alba transgenic bunny by the artist Eduardo Kac is one particularly interesting art piece.


It reminds me of some knowledge I learned last quarter in the psychology class circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm of gene expression at the transcriptional level can be traced by using luciferase assay, which also emits light in the dark .

Anti-Firefly Luciferase antibody
Anti-Firefly Luciferase antibody

To me the Green Fluorescent Protein used in creating Alba and luciferase used as a tool to study gene expression is very similar. But since Alba is genetically modified and labelled by its creator as an art piece, the GFP used on Alba then has different function from luciferase. GFP on Alba to me is used as the tool to create an art piece while luciferase still serves its original science function. On the other hand, some people may just regard Alba as a genetically-modified rabbit produced by “scientists” instead of an art piece done by Eduardo Kac. This raises the question of who and how should we define art again. Moreover, it proves the most important fact I learned in this course: science and arts are not two separate areas, they interact and influence each other.

In addition, some pieces of Bioart is controversial, radical, ghastly gruesome but at the same time very thought-provoking. 

This piece by Stelarc reminds me of the Dr. Octavius in the movie Spiderman 2. Spiderman2-Doc-Octavius

It provokes me to think about the effects of the development of technology. For example, with the help of technology, our human body’s capabilities are greatly enhanced but at the same time, our own body and instincts are somewhat nullified. We might be too used to the convenience and benefits of technology but at the same time forget about how to use our own body and instinct to feel the world.

—–Tian Wu


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