Sunday, May 8, 2016

BioTech and Art

As BioTechnology, and technology in general expanding at a rapid rate on the cellular level, the artists have began working with biologists and live tissue, organisms, and life processes. This has raised discussion as to what "BioArt" entails. Furthermore, their are ethical debates about artists "meddling with the genetics structures of natural systems." (Vesna)

Joe Davis was the pioneer of BioArt as he had an idea of putting sounds to light information, in which he called the Audio Microscope. The Audio Microscope allows for one to "hear" living cells, as each cell was given its own signature sound. He then took this idea farther to look at how E. coli responded to jazz, in efforts to create sound waves that would act stressful to bacteria. He would later use E. coli as the vehicle to send a sign of human intelligence and to "send a message in a bottle" to the extra terrestrials. He chose E. coli because it is essential for human digestion and survived through five years of deep space exposure. His message was microvenus, representing both life and female genitalia in response to all the male phallic images in space. Davis was able to translate microvenus into a string of nucleotides and in-between the genes of the bacteria E. coli. He was able to publish via genetics, a truly impressive feat.

Like Davis, artist Eduardo Kac featured the genome in his work, but focused on the human genome in particular. He genetically altered a petunia flower with the DNA in his own blood to create what he called the "Edunia." The flower became a hybrid of Kac and a petunia, where his DNA was expressed in the red veins of the flower. The "Edunia" is a representation of the contiguity of life between different species in a visually significant fashion. The flower has the ability to impress a sense of fascination towards the phenomenon of "life."

Both Davis and Kac were able to impress a sense of fascination towards the public about the phenomenon "life." BioArt is unique in that it can make one question the very meaning of his/her existence and what the relationship is between different species and genomes. 


"Joe Davis: Genetics and Culture." Joe Davis: Genetics and Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2015.
Vesna, Victoria, narr. “BioTech Art Lectures I-V.” N.p., . web. 5 Nov 2012.
Kac, Eduardo. “Natural History of the Enigma.” Ekac. 2009. Web. 08 May. 
 “Barry Schuler: An Introduction to Genomes.” YouTube. 23 Jan 2009. Web.
Kac, Eduardo. "Bio Art." Bio Art. Kac, n.d. Web. 05 May 2015. 

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