Faces of BioArt: Eduardo Kac and His Transgenic Organisms

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Last week I talked about my experience meeting Susanna Hertrich at the Art Laboratory Berlin, and now I move to Eduardo Kac, who actually coined the term ‘BioArt’. As a US-Brazilian from Rio, Eduardo has developed a global reputation as a ‘Transgenic Artist‘.

One of Eduardo Kac‘s most famous pieces, ‘Genesis‘ (1999), was a transgenic showpiece of Synthetic biology. After obtaining genes from a custom gene sequencing biotech, he inserted the genes into E. coli, which he then cultured. This petri dish was placed in a box under a UV light which could be activated by online viewers, who could see Genesis by webcam.

Then there was the glow in the dark transgenic rabbit, ‘Alba the GFP Bunny’ (2000). Kac collaborated with a French laboratory to insert the green fluorescent protein gene (GFP) from the jelly fish Aequoria victoria into a white rabbit egg, which he planned to adopt after the exhibition (but the laboratory revoked the right to do so).

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Left: The ‘Genesis’ Exhibition in 1999. Right: The GFP Bunny, Alba (2000) and the other Fluorescent Animals as part of the Eighth Day Project (2001) (Sources: Eduardo Kac)

Finally, we came across some of Eduardo’s work at the TransArt Fest in Copenhagen in November. There, he exhibited his famous transgenic flower, ‘Edunia‘, which he engineered part of his own genome into. A beautiful express of SynBio!

Other works of his inlcude a DIY Transgenic Kit dubbed ‘Cypher‘ (2009) and a self-sustaining piece of ecology in a painting (‘Biotopes‘), which changes over the exhibition time in ‘Specimen of Secrecy…‘ (2004-2005).

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We saw Edunia (Kac’s Transgenic Flower using his own DNA) at the TransArt Fest in Copenhagen in November (Illustration Remix Source: Eduardo Kac)

As part of our new series on BioArt, we will publish a profile on a BioArtist every Friday – for a small insight into the world in which Artists and Scientists work together.


What if art could truly create biological life? | Eduardo Kac | TEDxVienna


Feature Image Credit: Eduardo Kac speaking at the Human Nature Ars Electronica Fest in September 2009 (Credit: Rubra) remixed with some of Kac’s Art Pieces (Source: Eduardo Kac).
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