Eduardo Kac
Source: Eduardo Kac

Eduardo Kac

Genesis ,
Co-workers & Funding
Funding: Daniel Langlois Foundation, Montreal, and the Institute for Studies in the Arts, Arizona State University, Tempe.
  • Genesis
    700 × 384
  • image/jpeg
    800 × 963
Genesis is a transgenic artwork that explores the intricate relationship between biology, belief systems,information technology, dialogical interaction, ethics, and the Internet. The key element of the work is an "artist's gene", a synthetic gene that was created by Kac by translating a sentence from the biblical book of Genesis into Morse Code, and converting the Morse Code into DNA base pairs according to a conversion principle specially developed by the artist for this work. The sentence reads: "Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." It was chosen for what it implies about the dubious notion of divinely sanctioned humanitys supremacy over nature. The Genesis gene was incorporated into bacteria, which were shown in the gallery. Participants on the Web could turn on an ultraviolet light in the gallery, causing real, biological mutations in the bacteria. This changed the biblical sentence in the bacteria. The ability to change the sentence is a symbolic gesture: it means that we do not accept its meaning in the form we inherited it, and that new meanings emerge as we seek to change it.

  • aesthetics
    • remediated
    • visual
  • genres
    • bioart
      • transgenic art
  • subjects
    • Art and Science
      • biology
    • Arts and Visual Culture
      • poetry
    • Religion and Mythology
      • Bibles
Technology & Material
The initial process in this work is the cloning of the synthetic gene into plasmids and their subsequent transformation into bacteria. A new protein molecule is produced by the gene. Two kinds of bacteria are employed in the work: bacteria that have incorporated a plasmid containing ECFP (Enhanced Cyan Fluorescent Protein) and bacteria that have incorporated a plasmid containing EYFP (Enhanced Yellow Fluorescent Protein). ECFP and EYFP are GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) mutants with altered spectral properties. The ECFP bacteria contain the synthetic gene, while the EYFP bacteria do not. These fluorescent bacteria emit cyan and yellow light when exposed to UV radiation (302 nm). As they grow in number mutations naturally occur in the plasmids. As they make contact with each other plasmid conjugal transfer takes place and we start to see color combinations, possibly giving rise to green bacteria. Transgenic bacterial communication evolves as a combination of three visible scenarios: 1 - ECFP bacteria donate their plasmid to EYFP bacteria (and vice-versa), generating green bacteria; 2 - No donation takes place (individual colors are preserved); 3 - Bacteria loose their plasmid altogether (become pale, ochre colored).
  • Kac, Eduardo. Biopoetry. Berlin: AcquAvivA, 2016.
  • Kac, Eduardo. »Biopoetry.«
  • Stocker, Gerfried. »Aufbruch.« In Genesis, edited by O.K. Center for Contemporary Art, 38-40. Linz: 1999.
  • Kac, Eduardo. »Genesis.« In Ars Electronica 1999: LifeScience, edited by Gerfried Stocker and Christine SchöpfWien, New York: Springer Verlag, 1999.
  • Stocker, Gerfried. »Uprising.« In Genesis, edited by O. K. Center for Contemporary Art, 41-43. Linz: 1999.