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Genesis

Genesis (1999) is an installation by Eduardo Kac.

Genesis is a transgenic artwork that explores the intricate relationship between biology, belief systems, information technology, dialogical interaction, ethics, and the Internet. The key element of the work is an "artist's gene", a synthetic gene invented by the artist. This gene was created by translating a sentence from the biblical book of Genesis into Morse Code, and then converting the Morse Code into DNA base pairs according to a conversion principle which Kac developed specifically for this work. The sentence reads: "Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that movesupon the earth." This sentence was chosen for its implications regarding the dubious notion of (divinely sanctioned) humanity's supremacy overnature. Morse code was chosen because, as first employed in radiotelegraphy, it represents the dawn of the information age -- the genesis of global communications. The initial process in this work is the cloning of the synthetic gene intoplasmids and their subsequent transformation into bacteria. In this work two kinds of bacteria are employed, bacteria that have incorporated aplasmid containing either ECFP (Enhanced Cyan Fluorescent Protein) or EYFP (Enhanced Yellow Fluorescent Protein). ECFP and EYFP are GFP (GreenFluorescent Protein) mutants with altered spectral properties. The ECFP bacteria contain the synthetic gene, while the EYFP bacteria do not. These fluorescent bacteria emit blue and yellow light when exposed to UVradiation. As they grow in number, mutations will occur in the plasmids, and as they make contact with each other, we start to see color combinations and green bacteria arise.

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