Bioart or Blasphemy?
An Intellectual Dissection of Kac's Bunny
Tan Shen Mynn

The term "bioart" is a relatively new term. Coined by Joe Davis, widely acknowledged as the father of the bioart movement, it encompasses many new forms of art, from biotelematic art to transgenic art. The creators of bioart call themselves "a new breed of creative visualists who utilize molecular biology as their medium for instigating a new form of 'interactive art'". These pieces of art range from the interesting but quirky Caddis Worm Sculpture by Hubert Duprat3 to Eduardo Kac's infamous GFP Bunny. An almost complete bibliography of bioart and related articles, compiled by George Gessert, can be found at However, it is the latter piece of bioart, perhaps referred to more accurately as transgenic art, which I would like to draw your attention to.

Eduardo Kac has been a pioneer of transgenic art with his many creations like The Eighth Day, Genesis and of course, the GFP Bunny. Fusing genetic engineering with art, Kac hopes to "reveal the cultural implications of the (genetic) revolution underway and offer different ways of thinking about and with biotechnology". Using an enhanced version of the green fluorescent protein (or EGFP) from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria injected into the embryo of an albino rabbit, Kac created a rabbit, Alba, that glowed green when exposed to blue or ultra-violet light. Reactions from the scientific as well as the artistic community ranged from the positive "He's pushing the boundaries between art and life, where art is life" by Staci Boris, a curator at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, to the negative "I think it steps over a line. I don't think we should be manipulating complex organisms in the name of art" by Arthur Newman, a member of the U.S. Council for Responsible Genetics. Being a trained biologist, I tend to agree with Newman.


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