Transgenic Art

Transgenic art is a new form of art that is being used more and more as artists start to experiment with life.

Our generation is unlike anything the world has ever experienced; we are more connected than ever and technology has made its place in so many aspects of our lives we wouldn’t know how to live without it. As we know, artists tend to make statements about the world we live in, and what could be better than to comment on all the transgenic modifications our world is being submitted to? We have GMOs, experimenting with clones, and it doesn’t seem to stop pushing forward, streching the line of the ethical. Artists, by using the medium of bio art, can recieve loud responses from the work they create, such as GFP Bunny, a fluorescent bunny created by Eduardo Kac. The critics were mixed, and a lot of people were shocked that humans had used an animal for art purposes.

Of course, not all bio art is concerned with animals, as we can see with Edunia, a genetically modified flower that contains both the flower and Kac’s DNA. But Kac takes responsibility for what he creates. Alba still lives with him, and so will the other creations he will make, such as the project of GFP-K-9, a fluorescent dog. Ethically, it appears fair : If you must create a new art form, you must care for it afterwards.
Transgenic art deals with artificially controlled beings, whether animal or mineral, which’s genetic sentence is transformed by humans. As Eduardo Kac mentions, there must be a connection between ” the artist, the public and the transgenic organism”. Peope must be willing to understand what is being played with in bio art. It is not entertainement, it is pushing the limit of the possible.

It is art beyond what we can see, that still impacts the final “product”. For instance, Alba, the rabbit who’s genetic sentence was modified, that resulted in her glowing in the dark.This shows how everything we touch can be modified to our needs, or our pleasure. I do not agree with any of those methods, but I understand the reasons behind the art. It is a statement that is loud and clear, we are in control of everything. We are at the top of the food chain and can play God. Because it is essentially what is being done in laboratories every day. People play God and artists showcase the creations they make in a performance to allow the audience to comment and react in many different ways to the creation.

It can both offend and/or notify people of what happens behind closed doors, as no one is truly aware of the exact manipulations that take place… in a place where there are no rules or ethics. Artists therefore create something that scientists and slaughterhouses don’t : anger. People will start to comment on the fact that they shouldn’t have the right to do such things, to play with animals that way, to strip them of their rights…

Jennifer Hood mentions in The Ethics of Transgenic Art that “the line between art and science is blurred.” I have to agree. If artists can play with genetics, then where does it stop? Can we all create our own fluorescent beings in our gardens? Why would anyone stop us? We are all manipulating animal life in one way or another, if it is for livestock, where we breed and breed and breed the unwilling animals to have meat, if it is for progress, where we create monsters to see if we can, if it is for medicine, so we don’t have to test it on ourselves first, if it is for clothes, even though we have no need for leather or fur anymore, if it is for entertainemeny, I mean, who doesn’t like a good horseback ride, or elephant ride, or ostrich ride, or donkey ride, if it is for eggs, because we cannot restrain ourselves from that good old butter and sunny side up eggs… The list is never ending, and it doesn’t seem to bother most of the public. We might wonder why. I think the best way to explain it would be to take the example of a mermaid. If we found one in the ocean, an educated guess would be that humans would take it and try to interrogate it. But as it is a non-human species, we wouldn’t understand it. We would therefore feel enclined to disregard who they are as individuals for entertainement purposes (put it in big aquarium, perhaps?) or “educational” purposes (Look at that, it is a mermaid… it used to be free and now it’s not… It used to live in the ocean, used to travel miles and miles a day, and now you can look at it… as it slowly lets itself dies from depression) and even maybe under means of conservation (We must protect the mermaid!… as we exterminate the Amazon, home for so many species that everyday, more than 2 are eliminated and more than 20 get into the eternally growing list of endangered species… But we must eat meat, we must continue to destroy the planet! Onwards! Save the mermaid! As we fish sharks, dolphins and whales when trying to get tuna, due to the massive fishnets that gives no respect to any living beings in the ocean… except this one mermaid).

The catch is… mermaids aren’t real… but all the other non-human species we use in everyday life are.

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