Do bacteria believe in God?


Do bacteria believe in God?

Actually I am a bit skeptical of technobiological art, but I have several favorite works and «Genesis» by Eduardo Kac is one of them.  He is an American artist who investigates various possibilities of new media in the field of poetry and also he is one of the pioneers of bio art. The art-work «Genesis» was his first experiment with transgenic technologies.

To explain the idea of this work I should   give several general clarifications. DNA – is a molecule which encodes so called genetic information. Each DNA molecule consist of two long biopolymers, each biopolymer consist of monomers. There are four types of such monomers: Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymine, abbreviated as A, G, C, T. Sequence of these elements determines all characteristics of the living organisms, so we can consider that these four monomers compose «genetic alphabet».

For the work Eduardo Kac choose a sentence from the biblical book of Genesis: « Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth». Than he translated the quote into Morse Code. After translating the biblical passage into the dots and dashes he converted the Morse Code into «genetic alphabet»: dots were translated into Cytosine (C), dashes into Thymine (T), word spaces into Adenine (A), letter spaces into Guanine (G).


Then he synthesized real DNA molecule according to this sequence and this «Genesis gene» was incorporated into live bacteria, which reproduced, so living organisms multiplied message about humanity’s supremacy over nature. It was not narcissism, Eduardo Kac just tried to shake viewers and create a forceful image of possibilities of science.  Language is one of the main specific features of the humankind and when very simple organisms could reproduce linguistic structures easily, like machines, it is impressive and creepy at the same time.

Dish with the live bacteria was shown in the gallery. There were ultraviolet light in it and people through web connection could change and control it.  Such type of lite is a mutagenic factor; it means that it causes changers in the DNA sequence. After the show, the DNA of the bacteria was translated back into Morse code, and then back into English. The mutation in the DNA changed the original sentence from the Bible (result at the picture).  According to Kac: «In the context of the work, the ability to change the sentence is a symbolic gesture: it means that we do not accept its meaning in the form we inherited it, and that new meanings emerge as we seek to change it».

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: