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Themesicon: navigation pathCyborg Bodiesicon: navigation pathTransgenic Bodies
Fish & Chips (Catts, Oron), 1996The Tissue Culture & Art(ificial Wombs) (Catts, Oron), 1996Pig Wings (SymbioticA-Labor), 1997

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A few years before, in his projects , «Poetica Vaginal» (1985) and «Microvenus» (1986) Joe Davis had focussed on DNA as the carrier of non-biological information. [36] In collaboration with genetic engineers, Davis designed a molecule and transferred it to an organism, live E. coli bacteria. Thus «Microvenus» is a recombinant organism that contains many copies of a molecule created by an artist. As the starting point for his work, Davis chose an old Germanic symbol for life and the female earth. A special conversion programme translated the symbol into DNA bases. Once these artistically engineered elements of DNA are incorporated into bacteria, they can be expressed unchanged over a long period of time and are resilient enough, even under extreme conditions (for example, in space), to replicate a very great number of times. Because of the possibilities offered by bacteria as a long-term storage medium, Davis envisaged using the DNA of «Microvenus» as an interstellar medium of communication. Also Davis' following projects «Riddle of Life» (1994) and «Milky Way DNA« were about the issue of coding and conversion of genetic Codes. One also finds the practice of the close linking of art and


laboratory science in works by younger artists such as Adam Zaretsky, Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr and Guy Ben-Ary, whose art is created exclusively in a laboratory. In the spirit of Joe Davis, with their art projects «Fish & Chips, » «The Tissue Culture & Art(ificial) Wombs» (1996) as well as «Pig Wings» (1997) the artists Catts and Zurr created ‹living› sculptures out of biological material.

Third Culture

The aestheticisation of genetic engineering, as practiced by these artists in their bio-artworks, however, appears to lead to a playing down of the risks and acceptance of biotechnology rather than critical reflection for neither an assessment of this technology’s impact nor a discussion of the risks involved take place. By availing themselves of the latest biotechnological innovations and their industrial exploitation, an art trend like Transgenic Art has pretensions to constituting a force for innovation and social relevance and, at the same time, valorises a socially controversial technology. Many artists who operate at the interface of art, science, and new

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