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“GFP Bunny” has raised many ethical questions and sparked an international controversy about whether Alba should be considered art at all. “Transgenic art brings out a debate on important social issues surrounding genetics that are affecting and will affect everyone’s lives decades to come,” Kac is quoted as saying.
Q. You have said that through your work you hope to stimulate a dialogue among artists, scientists, philosophers, and members of the general public about the cultural and ethical implications resulting from the application of knowledge gained through genetic research. Can you give an example?
A. Humankind has always been fascinated by the ancient image of the chimera, a creature like the sphinx or the centaur, that combines body parts from at least two different species. Lab scientists have created chimeras by mixing cells from different species for research purposes. I conceived "GFP Bunny", an artwork that would begin with the creation of a chimerical animal, that does not exist in nature, and that would stimulate a series of complex social interactions. In this case I use the word "chimerical" in the sense of a cultural tradition of imaginary animals, not in the scientific connotation of an organism in which there is a mixture of cells in the body
on November 11, 1997, at the cultural center Casa das Rosas, São Paulo, Brazil. On this day, the artist Eduardo Kac implanted in his ankle an identification microchip with nine digits and registered himself with a databank in the United States via the Internet. Replacing the traditional branding with hot iron, the microchip--a transponder tag-- is used to identify and recover lost or stolen animals. The microchip is connected to a coil and a capacitor, all hermetically sealed in biocompatible glass to prevent the organism from rejecting it. The number stored on the chip can be retrieved with a tracker, a portable scanner that generates a radio signal and energizes a microchip, making it transmit back its inalterable number. The microchip implant in the ankle has a precise symbolic meaning: it is an area of the body that has traditionally been chained or branded.
The Human Race Machine, 2000
From left to right: Asian, Hispanic, Black, Indian, White
My intention in building The Race Machine was to allow us to
move beyond difference and arrive at sameness. When I discovered,
while doing research on a project involving genetics, that there
is no gene for race, I felt it was one of the most important things
to understand about genetics. The DNA of any two humans is 99.97
percent identical. And then The Race Machine became The Human
Race Machine. We are all related, all connected, all one.