Genetically Engineered Animals for the Future

Scientists will always tinker. While they mostly seek to improve the world, some scientists stray into Frankenstein category. Now that the genome has been hacked open, also sorts of possibilities pop up, from the useful to the ridiculous.

Say you often can’t find your cat when she wanders around the house at night. Problem solved. Get a glow in the dark cat.

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Yes, it’s true. South Korean scientists meshed a cat’s DNA with a red fluorescent protein. Why did they want glowing kitties? Just because.

Although some of the genetic engineering works around possibility for science’s sake. Not everyone needs a glowing cat. But what about a dinosaur? Look at a modified Umbuku Lizard.

umbukulizard

Those wings aren’t glued on. They were dormant in the lizard’s genes. A little tinkering brought them out. Scientists believe that this lizard is a descendent of the Pterodactyl, which lost its ability to fly some millions of years ago. To date only 6 of these flying Umbuku have been produced and they are kept seperate from the natural Umbuku due the risk of cross breeding.

Some genetic tinkering can produce results we can all use. Consider the fact that nearly all paper comes from wood pulp. However, you have to kill the tree to make the paper. What if you didn’t? Trees produce leaves every season. A Swiss-based company saw the possibilities. They engineered a tree whose leaves look like sheets of paper. That’s right. Just pluck a sheet and get writing. Bonus, the tree lives.

papertree

Up to this point, scientists have combined like items (plant with plant or animal with animal). Here comes the fern spider.

fernspider

This is one of the first animal/plant hybrids. The Italian Wolf spider (Lycosa tarantula) was crossed with a ponga fern (Cyathea dealbata) to test the survival rates of creatures with camouflage.

Finally, this tinkering can be simply for the purpose of beauty.

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The Japanese company, Suntory, managed to create a blue rose called “Applause.” Blue roses don’t exist in nature. Many horticulturalists strive for this coveted goal. The company mixed rose genes (Old Garden ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’) with a delphinidin-producing gene from a pansy.

The future certainly looks strange. I don’t know how I’ll use my glowing cat, but at least I can pull a sheet of paper from my tree. Alas, if only it grew money.
Tim Kane

Evolution Gone Awry (The Disturbing Art of Patricia Piccinini)

If you’ve never seen Patricia Piccinini’s sculptures, then you have missed out on a whole world of weirdness. Take a look at the photo below from “The Fitzroy Series” (2012). Look at the mix of an actual environment and the sculpted creatures. The boy sleeping in the bed? He’s probably a sculpture too.

70Bedroom,10.30pm

She uses a combination of  silicone, fibreglass and human hair to create her sculptures. Often she pairs her bizarre beings with imagined future beings.

She also offers a series of sculptures that cause the viewer to question whether this is a creature that once lived or possibly a result of laboratory tinkering. Take a look at “Offering” (2009). Is this a dog? Perhaps a werewolf cub? It certainly evokes a warm babyish feeling.

offering 2009

Now take a look at “Newborn” (2010). Perhaps this is the offering grown a little larger?

newborn 2010

This little guy looks comforting yet disturbing at the same time. Are those arms? Fingers? Tentacles? I’m not sure. Does it have a trunk?

In her series “Aloft” (2010) she shows an ominous nest dangling above viewers’s heads.

12Aloft

From the second story, viewers can see inside the nest. Note that the boy didn’t craw in there. He’s sculpted.

larva

Yes, disturbing is this artist’s middle name. I don’t know what worries me more, the giant larval creatures or the kid about to tumble to the floor.

Finally, look at one of her most recent projects “Welcome Guest” (2011). Here we have more full grown creature paired with a child.

Welcome Guest

As always in Piccinini’s sculptures, the children look happy and calm when faced with the bizarre or unusual. This piece makes me wonder what the welcome guest evolved from. Those claws are disturbing.

To see more of Piccinini’s sculptures, visit her website.

Tim Kane