Saturday, May 7, 2016

Week 6: Biotechnology and Art
This week we learned about the use of biotechnology in art; this controversial topic brings up many ethical questions. With advancing technology, artists have the ability to genetically create and modify things into unique pieces of art, but are they crossing the line and taking on a role that does not belong to them?

From the perspective of an artist using this medium I can understand their excitement and the purpose of many of their creations. Kathy High is one artist who used human  white blood cells in "Blood Wars" in a competition of survival of the fittest. Like dog fighting, "Blood Wars" takes white blood cells and have them fight for superiority until only one type of blood cell is left. This shows how different blood cells are more developed than others and just what their abilities are.
Another artist that uses biotechnology in art pieces is Orlan, her piece the "Harlequin Coat", which is a coat of colored pieces of skin. She achieves these color by modifying the genetic makeup of many different races of people. This causes controversy because her use of human skin for something other than it should ever be intended for, but her ability to manipulate human skin cells and change the color of different races is incredible.
Since artists are working with live cells however, many uncontrollable errors or occurrences can arise. Two artist who experienced issues with their piece was Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr with their piece "Victimless Leather." While on exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, their piece which was composed of mouse tissue had to be killed because of its rapid growth. The piece was deemed uncontrollable and had to be stopped from growing which is something many people fear when people take over the role of creator. 

It’s issues like this make people question how far is too far when it comes to our developments in biotechnology. We may have control over what we do with biotechnology, but we don’t always have control over the growth of these living cells. There needs to be limitations to our abilities or else one mistake may be disastrous. 


"Dog Fighting." ASPCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2016. <>.

Miranda, Carolina A. "WEIRD SCIENCE: BIOTECHNOLOGY AS ART FORM." N.p., 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 5 May 2016. <>.

"ORLAN - Harlequin Coat." - FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2016. <>.

Vesna, Victoria. "Part 3." BioTech+Art. Online, Los Angeles. 5 May 2016. Lecture.

Vesna, Victoria. "Part 4." BioTech+Art. Online, Los Angeles. 5 May 2016. Lecture.

1 comment:

  1. I like that you bring up the issue of control. We often have this idea that humans have dominion over all of life, when in fact there have been many cases (as you bring up, above) where humans have lost control of an entity that they have created. I feel like this fear is reflected in zombie narratives and science fiction in general, and might be an interesting way that art and fears about biotechnology have combined.