Monday, December 17, 2012

Bio-Art: GenTerra.

Confession: I've been using Kac and SymbioticA as solid defaults for this column. Sure, occasionally I'll look at other indie artists dabbling with biological fluids, but there are a few big names that keep coming up. It turns out I've been forgetting a rather big one: Critical Art Ensemble. 

Critical Art Ensemble is a small group with big ideas. Their art is based around critical theory - that is, criticism of society and culture using sociology and the humanities as bases. They cover the potential impacts and implications of technology, politics, and, of course, bio-art in their works. They have been criticizing since 1988 and show no signs of stopping.

GenTerra was an installation of theirs. The audience got an up-close and personal encounter with some transgenic bacteria. This serves two purposes: one, it demystifies the process of gene splicing, and two, it makes information widely available. Let's take a little look!

Mind, the scientists in this video are all performers. They still really know their stuff. This removes a problem that tends to occur with professionals: they don't communicate with laymen well, resorting to Greco-Latin jargon that looks like alphabet soup to the average guy on the street. The little kid gets it. That's great.

They also wrote a completely free book called Flesh Machine.It dives into the powers that be and what they intend to do with designer babies and the like. The short answer is that eugenics will come back into play. I will not take advantage of CAE's "please steal this" and C/P the whole thing, but I will review it next week.

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