Eduardo Kac makes transgenic art. In his world, rabbits, fish, plants and mice glow in the dark – not because they are virtual or digital but because they are genetically engineered to do so. These synthetically luminescent life forms share their environment with a biobot, a robot whose actions are controlled by a colony of amoeba acting as its brain.
A New Ecology of Fluorescent Creatures
Premiering at Arizona State University from October 25 to November 2, 2001, The Eighth Day is a transgenic artwork that investigates the new ecology of fluorescent creatures that is evolving worldwide. The work was developed between 2000 and 2001 at the Institute for Studies in the Arts, Arizona State University, Tempe. While fluorescent creatures are being developed in isolation in laboratories, seen collectively they form the nucleus of a new and emerging synthetic bioluminescent system. The piece brings together living transgenic life forms and a biological robot (biobot) in an environment enclosed under a clear 4 foot diameter Plexiglas dome, thus making visible what it would be like if these creatures would in fact coexist in the world at large.
The Eighth Day presents an expansion of biodiversity beyond wildtype life forms. As a self-contained artificial ecological system it resonates with the words in the title, which add one day to the period of creation of the world as narrated in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. All of the transgenic creatures in The Eighth Day are created through the cloning of a gene that codes for the production of green fluorescent protein (GFP). As a result, all creatures express the gene through bioluminescence visible with the naked eye. The transgenic creatures in The Eighth Day are GFP plants, GFP amoeba, GFP fish, and GFP mice.
Eduardo Kac is internationally recognized for his interactive net installations and his bio art. A pioneer of telecommunications art in the pre-web 1980s, Eduardo Kac (pronounced ‘Katz’) emerged in the early 1990s with his radical telepresence and biotelematic works. His visionary combination of robotics and networking explores the fluidity of subject positions in the post-digital world. His work deals with issues that range from the mythopoetics of online experience (Uirapuru) to the cultural impact of biotechnology (Genesis); from the changing condition of memory in the digital age (Time Capsule) to distributed collective agency (Teleporting an Unknown State); from the problematic notion of the ‘exotic’ (Rara Avis) to the creation of life and evolution (GFP Bunny). At the dawn of the twenty-first century Kac shocked the world with his ‘transgenic art’ – first with a groundbreaking installation entitled GenesisCentre for Advanced Inquiry in Interactive Arts (CAiiA) at the University of Wales, Newport, United Kingdom. He is an Associate Professor of Art and Technology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Eduardo Kac is represented by Julia Friedman Gallery, Chicago. Eduardo Kac can be contacted at: email@example.com. (1999), which included an ‘artist's gene’ he invented, and then with his fluorescent rabbit called Alba (2000). Eduardo Kac is a Ph.D. research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Inquiry in Interactive Arts (CAiiA) at the University of Wales, Newport, United Kingdom. He is an Associate Professor of Art and Technology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Eduardo Kac is represented by Julia Friedman Gallery, Chicago. Eduardo Kac can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.