Monday, October 3, 2011

Bio-Art: (Gene)sis.

Science and religion have been at odds since the ancient Greeks. Yes, really; there was a time in ancient Greece when church and state were not separated, and people got in trouble for saying that the sun and moon were not gods. Fathers of democracy, everyone!

Regardless of who started it, harsh debates between religion and science sprout up every time a new discovery that could cure Alzheimer's hits the presses. Now that we know how sex works, there are questions about exactly when life begins, hindering valuable stem cell research. Let's not get into chimeras and cloning, even though we probably should. The general thesis behind all those things is the same: Creation is God's domain, and even attempting to create new life artificially is an act of hubris. Apparently said hubris does not include Chihuahuas.


Then there's (Gene)sis - Eduardo Kac's personal message to God encoded in 4-letter DNA. He took a bit of the Bible, and transferred it into Morse code. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."- now in GFP DNA for all to see. It's neat that someone translated the beginning of the Bible into a custom gene - a molecule that makes up all life as we know it. In the Beginning was the Word indeed.

We can understand people getting up in arms about human cloning, but this? This is chewing God up, putting him under ultraviolet light, and spitting him out. Alba was all right. How are people not offended by this? Yes, glowing things are always cool, but it's like Eduardo Kac has made himself a lightning rod for divine wrath. This is hubris if I ever saw it manifested into the coolest form possible (aside from creating Satan in a test tube- now THAT would be cool).

After being exposed to UV light so often, the DNA began to mutate. What used to be coherent words (in Morse) became swapped strings of gibberish as the bacteria multiplied. Supposedly there is a site where one can alter the composition of (Gene)sis for oneself, making the process go even faster. I am not sure if this is still up; the URL in my book seems to be wrong and/or dead. 

More importantly, what do you, the readers, think of this work? Is it blasphemy (like Chihuahuas should be)? Does mankind really have a God-given right to tweak nature as it so desires? Eduardo Kac loves to incite discussion, so discuss, discuss, discuss! 


  1. As a general rule, I think that no matter what religious beliefs you have, hubris is considered to be kind of a big no-no. XD For example, if someone like Phillip Pullman shouted "God is a lie", people would either get extremely offended, extremely pleased, or some reaction in the middle. But if Pullman walked onto the same stage and shouted "I know God is a lie because I am God", the universal reaction would be FACEPALM.jpg.

    Remember, hubris is one of those things that no culture in the history of ever has given a thumbs up to, lol. I think that's why Kac has it turning into gibberish; that way when people tell him to stop pissing off the universe, he can say that he was only putting random words into the gene. XD

  2. Either way "man" is not God.
    Nor a Right or left seated being!

    Are we as a species rushing forward like lemmings running to the cliff face??