For the midterm assignment I wrote about Eduardo Kac and his GFP bunny Alba and the social, cultural, and ethical implications of genetic engineering and the issues raised by bio-art. Here is an exert from my paper.
Biology and genetics has not only been a hot topic in the areas of research and medicine, but also in the art world. Art and science are intrinsically intertwined, building off of and relying on one another in an effort to define the concepts of life and identity. One artist that has pushed the boundaries between art and science is Eduardo Kac. Eduardo Kac is an American contemporary artist who’s work encompasses various genres and fields including biology, ecology, genetics, transgenesis, and biotechnology, coining a new genre of art that he refers to as “bio-art” or “transgenic art.” His work has been exhibited in the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan, and South America and has raised controversy and debate all over the world. “Transgenic art,” says Alba “is a new art form based on the use of genetic engineering to transfer natural or synthetic genes to an organism, to create unique living beings.” (1) Most notably is his collaboration with French geneticist Louise-Marie Houdebine, of the National Institute of Argonomic Research, in the creation of the transgenic bunny, Alba. The GFP bunny, GFP standing for green fluorescent protein, was created by splicing the GFP of a jellyfish and inserting it into her genome. The project is described as a “complex social event” that explores the social, cultural, and ethical implications of genetic engineering, as well as the public’s reaction to this topic, and extends the concepts of biodiversity and evolution. It also aims to contest the alleged supremacy of DNA in life, and examines interspecies communication between humans and a transgenic mammal, and the notions of normalcy, purity, hybridity, and otherness. (1)
Wilson, Stephen. Information Arts: Intersections of art, science, and technology.