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Monday, December 10, 2012

Bio-Art: Cypher.

Have you ever wanted to make a piece of bio-art yourself? Worried that you won't be able to do it without a sophisticated  medical degree? Don't worry; the technology to make things like that happen is becoming more and more accessible in high schools and colleges. For the rest of us, "bio-art" as science defines it has been more or less inaccessible...until now.


Pic credit: Eduardo Kac. 

[salespitch]

Coming soon, to an educational store near you: CYPHERCypher is a transgenics kit containing everything you need to make your own transgenic bacteria. Follow the step-by-step instructions and make the bacteria glow red with renowned bio-artist Eduardo Kac's special gene. You won't believe how easy it is! It's the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list!

But that's not all! The DNA in the bacteria is encoded with a poem that Kac wrote specifically for Cypher.  Aside from the usual 4 bases, Kac added in six extra letters, just for this project. These extra letters are absolutely integral to the poem. Don't just create genetic freaks; create mutating, evolving art!\

Ooooh! (Another Kac photo.)


Call 1-800-CYPHER1 today to order your kit for only 199.99! Supplies are limited; act now and receive a bonus transgenic rodent with your order! (Disclaimer: May not be a real number. You may receive an evil  robot monkey instead.)

[/salespitch]

In all seriousness? Cypher was a project created by Kac in 2009 for the Rurart exhibition in France. The idea was to put the power to create life into an artist's hands; again, Kac likes playing God, or at least trolling him. The scientific tools within are arranged like a briefcase or, better yet, an artist's toolkit. It also really works, from what I've read.

By the way: No, you cannot buy these. Insofar as I can tell, only one has ever been made. Time will tell, however; remember when microscopes were only found in science labs?  The same may soon happen with gene splicing and other scientific advances. It's scary, but also exciting...and is guaranteed to sell like hotcakes.

P.S. - You may have noticed that I've expanded the definition of "bio-art" for some of my entries. Simply put, these works tend to either a) use scientific records to postulate their own scientific theories in an artistic fashion, or b) are simply under-recognized. Not all of us can afford expensive biology degrees. Anybody can think about a scientific issue, then make art based around it. It's still creativity in the name of science.

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