Since Mendel discovered the genetics of a plant, genetics have been highly experimented and researched by scientist. However, more recently, genetics have begun to be explored by artists. Artists are interested in finding new and enticing ways to showcase and reproduce genomes.
Marta DeMenezes is a Portuguese artist who is exploring the convergence of art and science. Her main focus is about how science can influence and change nature. One of her most well known works is “Nature?.” In “Nature?,” DeMenzes has created live butterflies with modified wing patterns. The new wing and their designs are not artificial or pigmented and made out of normal cells. One important aspect of her project, that I greatly appreciate, is that she created butterflies that are not able to reproduce other butterflies with the same patterns. Therefore, each butterfly is unique and will never be seen in nature again. “Nature?” will not effect evolution in the long run. Although DeMenzes as created some beautiful wing patterns, her project is extremely controversial because it brings up the idea of harming animals for the purpose of art. Some people do not believe that this is ethically okay to alter the nature of animals and insects because they are ultimately not given a choice. The other problem that people have with projects like “Nature?” is the notion that artist and scientist are gaining too much power in how society will turn out.
One concept that I found to be really interest was the idea of DIY biology movement projects from the Outlaw Synopsis essay. A project that captures the idea of DIY biology is “Foragers” by Dunne and Raby. “Foragers” explores the possibility of a world that is overpopulated causing there to not be enough food. “Foragers” is the idea of synthetic digestive systems and devices that would allow people to extract food from their environment by maximizing the nutritional value of nature. This project is attempting to solve the food shorten problem by making food universally and commercially accessible through nature to everyone. Dunne and Raby are providing a perfect example and depiction of what our world will look like if we are able to take control of our own evolution.
The convergence of art and biotechnology has the ability to change the world. However, giving people the opportunity to determine evolution can create an artificial world that will not longer be unique.
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