The Art of Life
“The Art Is Alive” by Emily Voigt, in Isotope, Fall–Winter 2009.
A dinner party in Paris. Frog on the menu. It sounds pretty straightforward until the catch: In attendance is the frog himself, still alive. The meal being served—coin-sized frog steaks—is tissue cloned from the guest of honor. It’s not the future; it’s a piece of performance art titled Disembodied Cuisine. Welcome to the weird world of bioart.
“The idea of manipulating life in the name of aesthetics is nothing new,” says Emily Voigt, a writer based in New York City, but recently, art in which biological materials are used “has been growing rapidly in popularity and ambition.” Bioart is the catchall label for works of this kind, which range from bacteria that have been genetically engineered to glow in bright colors to a torn leaf repaired with grafted-on human scab cells. Many artists who 10 or 20 years ago were tinkering with silicon and circuits are today playing with cells and DNA.
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