Bacteriograph Velocirabbit

Zachary Copfer is a bioartist. He currently works primarily in the new medium of bacteriogaphy: photographs produced by glowing genetically modified bacteria (which replace light sensitive photo paper). This work is effectively a new medium for artistic endeavour, one which captures the spirit of the genetic revolution – replacing large numbers of conventional technologies with biological ones.

He sums up his motives behind the work as:

As a former microbiologist recently turned visual artist, I have begun searching for ways to synthesize the seemingly dichotomous fields of science and art. I believe that the separation of art and science is a misconception shared by many who are unfamiliar with the simple elegance of scientific theories. For me the world of science has always been a beautiful poetic place, more artful than anyplace else I have ever known.

His work includes an array of celestial bodies and portraits of famous scientists. It also includes the work “Albasaurus: The World’s First Day-Glo Velocirabbit (Dear Mr. Kac)” (featured above). His letter which accompanies the work is:

Dear Mr. Kac,

As a former microbiologist recently turned transgenic bio-artist, I have been told by numerous people that I should look at your work. So, like any normal person would do, I googled you. As you can imagine, most of the results were about Alba, the day-glo bunny. It just broke my heart to read that you never got to take Alba home and love her like all rabbits deserve. After going to all of the trouble of trying to buy a test specimen from a genetic research lab you ended up empty handed. It’s so sad that you only got to hold Alba once. I read that some people not only believe that you never saw Alba but that she may never have existed at all. But I did an image search and found a picture of you holding a rabbit. Therefore, I know that she must exist and that you did in fact meet her. I was so inspired by the story of Alba that I contacted a colleague and friend of mine, Dr. Henry Wo, a geneticist at InGen, and asked him to create a chimeric animal of my own design. And thus Albasaurus, the worlds first day-glo Velocirabbit, was born. Or should I say hatched. My original intention was to give Albasaurus to you, as a gift, to help fill the void left in your heart by Alba. However, after holding Albasaurus in my arms and then introducing her into my family, I just cannot bear to part with her. As a small consolation, I am sending you a bacteriograph of Albasaurus. I created it in my lab using E. Coli that I genetically modified with the DNA for GFP (don’t worry, the bacteria has been preserved and sterilized). Although it’s not quite Albasaurus, the bacteriograph is transgenic bio-art. I hope this token serves to lessen your grief, if even just a little bit. P.S. I have included some photographs of Albasaurus to prove to you that she is real and to show you what a good and loving home she has here.

Sincerely yours, Zachary Copfer

In his letter he makes reference to Alba, the GFP GM bunny by Eduardo Kac. What a lot of people don’t realise about Alba is that, while she did in fact exist – the image widely circulated of her (and the one you will find on any google search) is a simple photoshop manipulation. Copfer’s art parodies this and calls to attention that not every image of a GM thing you might see online is real.

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