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Art and Genetics Bibliography


Compiled by George Gessert, November 1996, Updated January 2005.



The Art and Genetics Bibliography includes (1) writings that directly explore the area of overlap between art and genetics; (2) catalogs and studies of art with genetic dimensions, for example Dutch flower painting, and ecological art; (3) studies of domestication, and histories of plants and animals kept for esthetic pleasure, such as pets; (4) writings about esthetic criteria used in plant and animal selection; (5) explorations of the biophilia hypothesis; and (6) science-fiction accounts of genetic art.

Lori Andrews, The Clone Age. (New York: Holt and Co., 1999) Exact figures aren't available, but probably more than a million people living today were conceived in petri dishes. Some of these people were carried by surrogate mothers. Some have as many as five parents (a genetic father and mother, a birth mother, and a social mother and father). A few may have been conceived by sperm from dead men. What are the social and legal implications? Lori Andrews, who is a professor of law, and advisor on genetic and reproductive technology to Congress and the World Health Organization, surveys the terrain in this lively book sprinkled with real-life stories.

Suzanne Anker, "Gene Culture: Molecular Metaphor in Visual Art," Leonardo Vol. 33, No. 5 (2000). This essay was originally written in conjunction with the exhibition "Gene Culture: Molecular Metaphor in Visual Art" held in Fordham College's Plaza Gallery, New York, 1994.

Suzanne Anker and Dorothy Nelkin, The Molecular Gaze (Cold Spring Harbor, New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2004). A handsomely produced book on contemporary art that engages genetics. The text explores the cultural meanings that DNA, genes, chomosomes, birth, and the manipulation of life have acquired. The book is strong on representational work done in traditional media, but weak on live art. A valuable book for its numerous illustrations, most in color.

Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. New York: Doubleday, 2003. In science fiction when it comes to apocalypse, the deluxe model is disease. Disease has all the aesthetic appeal: unlike nuclear holocaust or ecological disaster, it can be swift and relatively painless, it tends to be species-specific, and it leaves the biosphere intact. Afterwards there is plenty of loot for survivors. Atwood updates this ever-popular tale for the 21st century in a novel whose scenerio of our destruction seems demonically inspired, that is to say, all too plausible.

Ian Berry, ed. Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution (Saratoga, New York: The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, 2001) Catalog to a major show of genetic art first held at Exit Art in New York in 1999, and travelled until 2004. 124 pages with artists' statements and numerous color plates.

Dmitry Bulatov, ed. Biomediale. (Kaliningrad, Russia: National Publishing House, 2004) An ambitious book covering the science of biotechnology, its cultural impact, and a range of aesthetic responses to it. In Russian and English.

Annick Bureaud, "The Ethics and Aesthetics of Biological Art", Art Press, 276, February, 2002. Paris, France. Biological art is bewilderingly diverse. Bureaud discusses shared characteristics of biological art, and observes that this art "generates two main types of discourse ... technical discourse ... and [more frequently] social, political and ethical" discourse. The essay appears in "Art bio(techno)logique", a special section of Art Press devoted to biological and genetic art.

Tom Carter, The Victorian Garden (London: Bracken, 1988). The chapter "Floramania" describes 18th- and 19th-century attempts to define the esthetic issues involved in ornamental plant breeding.

Oron Catts, ed. The Aesthetics of Care? (Nedlands, Australia: School of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia, 2002. Second edition 2004) Proceedings of the first international symposium on ethical issues involved in bioart. Most but not all of the participants in this groundbreaking event were artists. A wide range of organisms and approaches to bioart were discussed.

Dave Cooper, Crumple, the Status of Knuckle. (Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, Inc., 2000.) Over the last half century what have been conspicuously missing in the art and literature of all-female worlds (see Joanna Russ) are male perspectives. The lone exception is Dave Cooper's graphic novel. Cooper tells the story of two friends, Knuckle and Zev, who sometime in the future go to Hollywood seeking wild women. There Knuckle discovers that women have found out how to reproduce without men. Cooper has extraterrestrials do the work of biotechnology, but they serve his story well, because they allow for more vivid mythmaking than pipettes and Petri dishes, as well as for better graphics.
The male characters in this story have a lot to answer for. They exploit women whenever possible, do not defend them when they most need help, and are clueless about mutual pleasure. Knuckle and Zev are classic losers, trapped in fantasy, and victims of popular culture and the media. Guilt and fatal desire seem to seal their fates. However, they have some redeeming qualities. Knuckle is aware of his powerlessness and failings. And Zev, though amazingly ignorant, is incapable of falseness. I couldn't help but care about their fates---but then, I'm a male.
So what happens to Zev and Knuckle after Hollywood? It's too good a story to give away, so let's just say that it does not have a Hollywood ending. Cooper's sense of humor never fails. His graphic style is brilliant, and his pace just right.

Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, Chapter 1, "Variation Under Domestication," focuses on domesticated animals and effects of human esthetic concerns on evolution.

Mike Dash, Tulipomania. (London: Victor Gollancz, 1999). A history of tulipomania. Well-researched and engagingly written.

Ernestine Daubner, "Manipulating Genetic Identities: The creation of Chimeras, Cyborgs, and (Cyber-)Golems " Parachute 105, Winter 2002, Montreal, Canada. pp. 84--91. Jargonless discussion of Eduardo Kac's work and Sonya Rapoport's response to "Genesis " in "Redeeming the Gene, Molding the Golem, Folding the Protein. "

Joe Davis, Dana Boyd, Hunter O'Reilly, and Marek Wieczorek, "Art and Genetics?" in Encyclopedia of the Human Genome (Macmillan, 2003.) A summary of art and genetics, with an excellent presentation of Davis's work.

Peter Dreyer, A Gardener Touched with Genius (New York: Coward, McCann and Geohegan, 1975). Biography of Luther Burbank.

Marta De Menezes. "The Artificial Natural: Manipulating Butterfly Wing Patterns for Artistic Purposes" in Leonardo, vol. 36, no. 1, 2003. De Menezes describes how she changes butterfly wing patterns by manipulating the chemical micro-environments of crysalises. She directs gene expression but does not affect the genes themselves. A beautiful bioart project.

Alexander Dumas, The Black Tulip. (French,1850) Set in seventeenth century Holland, this plot-driven historical novel has as its central figure one of the most elusive goals of plant breeding: a jet-black tulip. A frothy mix of romance, page-turning suspense, and the world of plant breeding before Darwin. Many translations are available.

Vilem Flusser, "Curie's Children," Art Forum Vol. 26, No. 7 (1988) and Vol. 27, No. 2 (1988). Speculation about possible uses of biotechnology by artists.

Ronald J. Gedrim, "Edward Steichen's 1936 Exhibition of Delphinium Blooms," in History of Photography Vol. 17, No. 4 (Winter 1993) pp. 352--363. The best study to date of Steichen's work as a hybridizer, and of his views of plant breeding as a fine art.

G. Gessert, "The Angel of Extinction," Northwest Review Vol. 34, No. 3 (1996). Extinction as muse.

G. Gessert, "Bastard Flowers," Leonardo Vol. 29, No. 4 (1996). A history of aversion to ornamental plants.

G. Gessert, "Breeding For Wildness" A meditation on the art of plant breeding. The Aesthetics of Care?, Oron Catts, ed. 2002. Revised for second edition, 2004.

G. Gessert, "A Brief History of Art Involving DNA," Art Papers (Sept./Oct. 1996). Revised and reprinted as "A History of Art Involving DNA" in LifeScience, Gerfried Stocker and Christine Schöpf, eds., 1999. 2nd revised edition, Biomediale, Dmitry Bulatov ed., 2004.

G. Gessert, "Doubles," Hortus No. 30 (Summer 1994). Mimesis in ornamental plant breeding.

G. Gessert, "Enough," Leonardo, Vol 37, No. 4, 2004. Book review.

G. Gessert, "Kitsch Ornamental Plants," Design Issues Vol. 13, No. 3 (1997).

G. Gessert, "Notes on Genetic Art," Leonardo Vol 26, No. 3 (1993).

G. Gessert, "Notes on Uranium Weapons and Kitsch" Political and cultural dimensions of the use of mutagens in war. Northwest Review, Vol. 42, No. 2004.

G. Gessert, "On Exhibiting Hybrids," Circa 90 (1999).

G. Gessert, "Oryx and Crake," Leonardo, Vol. 37, No. 5, 2004. Book review.

G. Gessert, "Notes sur l'art de la sélection végétale" in L'art Biotech, catalog to an exhibit of live genetic art at Le Lieu Unique, Nantes, France, 2003. In French.

G. Gessert, "Rainforests of Domestication," Leonardo Vol. 30, No. 2 (1997).

Jack Goody, The Culture of Flowers (Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993). The only book-length anthropological study of ornamental plants. Marxist perspective.

Donna Haraway. The Companion Species Manifesto. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003. Finally, a book that fully honors domestication without slipping into sentimentality. Haraway focuses on dogs, but much of what she says about them applys to other domesticated animals as well. She insists on what she calls the "significant otherness" of dogs, and the inherent messiness of interspecific relationships that unfold in historical and evolutionary time. She believes that with sustained attentiveness communication between species is possible, which takes the form of a dance.

Helen and Newton Harrison, The Lagoon Cycle (Ithaca, NY: Office of Univ. Publications, Cornell Univ., 1985). A classic of ecological art.

Helen and Newton Harrison, The Serpentine Lattice (Portland, OR: Office of News and Publications, Reed College, 1993). Proposal for one of the largest artworks ever conceived. Fuses art and evolution.

Jens Hauser, ed. L'Art Biotech. Catalog. (Le Lieu Unique, Nantes, France, 2003). Catalog to the first show of biotechnological art that consisted predominately of living work. This catalog has 31 pages of illustrations, and essays by Jens Hauser, Vilem Flusser, Symbiotica, Eduardo Kac, George Gessert, Marion Laval-Jeantet, Joe Davis, Marta de Menezes, Yves Michaud, and Richard Hoppe-Sailer. 94 pp. In French.

Carl Heiser, Jr., Seed to Civilization (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1990). Study of the origins of domesticated plants.

George L Hersey, Evolution of Allure (Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 1996). Suggests that in Western culture art imagery affects how people choose their mates, and therefore has affected the evolution of appearances.

Eve Hoffman, The Secret. (New York: Public Affairs, 2002.) In Hoffman's novel, a young woman named Iris discovers that she is a clone. She reacts by leaving her mother and embarking on a journey of discovery. She visits the laboratory where she was created, confronts the scientist who cloned her, reconnects with her grandparents (who are genetically her parents), and discovers the uses of sex. All this takes place in a near-future that is very much like the present.
Iris feels that she is unnatural, a "ludicrous joke." At first she had my sympathy, but her alienation and self-hatred provide her with too-handy excuses to exploit others. She gradually reveals herself to be a limited and all-too-familiar type of person, someone like David Foster Wallace's protagonist in The Depressed Person,who syphons off the life energies of the people she encounters, and through immense mental exertion keeps the world at bay. All in all, Iris presents powerful evidence against human cloning: it won«t produce baby Hitlers or perfect soldiers, just emotional cripples.
Hoffman suggests that the social agreements and belief systems that will allow human beings to create themselves in laboratories will cause people to see themselves as matter embedded in matter, as highly complex expressions of an unliving universe. This is hardly a new vision, but one that has been around since Descartes was humanized by lingering Judeo-Christian culture. The Secretfollows one person's life after that culture finally disappears.

Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles. (Original in French. English translation by Frank Wynne, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.) A genetic engineer and his brother are the two main characters in this story about what happens when nuclear families break down into their components. None of the human particles that result have strong obligations to anyone else, least of all to parents or children. There is abundant, blackly humorous sex, most of which is masturbatory, which is appropriate since masturbation is the sexual mode of individualism carried to its extreme. The genetic engineer's longterm solution to his and society's problems is as shocking as the solution in Russ's The Female Male.

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World. This is the only work from the preWorld War II culture of genetics that is well-known today. Huxley’s dystopia is eerily attractive. Elimination of inheritable disease, prolonged youth, end to class war, disappearance of sexual repression, freedom from pregnancy and childbirth, pornography as the highest art---the road to biological totalitarianism may be through fulfilled desires.

J. K. Huysmans, Against the Grain (A Rebours) Chapter 8 is a hilarious account of plants bred and grown as works of decadent art. Originally published in the 1880s.

Ito Ihei, A Brocade Pillow, Kaname Kato, trans. (New York: Weatherhill, 1984). Translation of the first book on azaleas, written in Japan in 1692. Illustrated with woodcuts. Sophisticated plant selections made without knowledge of Mendelian genetics. A very different esthetic sensibility at work on evolution than prevailed in the West.

Eduardo Kac. The Eighth Day. Sheilah Britton and Dan Collins, eds. Tempe, Arizona: Arizona State University Institute for Studies in the Arts, 2003. Includes eight essays on KacĂs transgenic work, and 59 illustrations, many in color.

Eduardo Kac. "GPF Bunny" in Leonardo, vol. 36, no. 2, 2003. Alba, the rabbit that fluoresces green in blue light, is the best known work of transgenic art in the world - even though only a few people have seen her. Before passing judgment on this project, read what the artist has to say.

Eduardo Kac, Transgenic Art, web site: http://www.ekac.org.

Eduardo Kac, Gail Wight, Julie Friedman and Renate Plöchl, eds., Gail Wight "Spike," Eduardo Kac "Genesis," exh. cat. (Linz, Austria: Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, 1999). Text in English and German. Good color photographs of Genesis, the first visually compelling work of art to use the tools of genetic engineering.

Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics. (New York, Knopf, 1985) Probably the best history of eugenics, especially as it developed in the the United States and Britain. Kevles covers the origins of eugenics, and traces the rise of what he calls the "mainline" movement, which mixed racism and class biases with weak science, championed sterilization laws in the US, and inspired the Nazis. Kevles also discusses why eugenics was taken up by many women and some socialists, and how dissenting eugenicists, such as Julian Huxley, J.B.S. Haldane and Hermann Muller, attempted to rescue eugenics from the mainline movement. The final sections of the book follow post-World War II developments. 105 pages of footnotes.

Tran T. Kim-Trang and Karl Mihail, "Gene Genies Worldwide." Leonardo, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2003. A statement about the artists' projects that explore the "conjunction of genetic engineering and consumer culture."

Gerd Krussmann, The Complete Book of Roses, G. Krussmann and N. Raban, trans. (Portland, OR: Timber, 1981). Probably the best history of cultivated roses.

Ellen Levy, ed., "Contemporary Art and the Genetic Code," special issue of Art Journal Vol. 55, No. 1 (Spring 1996). Texts by Ellen Levy, Suzanne Anker, Kevin Clarke, Agnes Denes, David Kremers, Stephen J. Gould, Dorothy Nelkin, Joe Davis, and others.

Ellen Levy, “The Genome and Art: Finding Potential in Unlikely Places,” Leonardo, Vol 34, No.2, 2001. Reflections on repetitive sequences of DNA, “junk” DNA, and its resonance with art.

Barbara Matilsky, Fragile Ecologies (New York: Rizzoli, 1992), Ecological works, some with genetic dimensions by A. Sonfist, the Harrisons, Mel Chin, and others.

Bill McKibben. Enough. New York: Henry Holt, 2003. America has never had much of a public discussion about biotechnology. For this to happen we would need good critics of biotechnology, among other things. With this book McKibben replaced Jeremy Rifkin as biotechnology's best-known US critic. Unfortunately, like Rifkin's books on biotechnology, Enough is simplistic. It is written in soundbites and is full of dubious assumptions, for example that germline engineering will turn people into meaningless robots. However, Enough is worth reading anyway, partly because McKibben does provide some reminders of why we should look before we leap (or rather, why we shouldn't passively allow industry and science to determine our fates), and partly because Enough's failings sketch the contours of common ignorance.

George Mosse, Toward the Final Solution (Madison, WI.: Univ. of Wisc. Press, 1985) Documents the role of high art and its critics on the development of racism and anti-Semitism.

Penelope Niven, Steichen. (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1997.) The only full-length biography of Edward Steichen. Niven includes fairly extensive information on Steichen's plant breeding, but unfortunately it is scattered through the book. Niven covers Steichen's 1936 show of delphiniums at the Museum of Modern Art, but not as thoroughly as Gedrim. She does a better job describing Steichen's early plant breeding experiments in France before the first World War.

David Ow, et al. "Transient and Stable Expression of the Firefly Luciferase Gene in Plant Cells and Transgenic Plants," Science Vol. 234 (Nov. 1986). The original report on the luminescent tobacco plant. A glimpse at what genetic engineering may have in store.

Anna Pavord, The Tulip (New York and London: Bloomsbury, 1999). The best history of any ornamental plant breeding complex ever published.

Daniel Pinchbeck, "Genetic Aesthetics," in World Art No. 2 (1995). Response to "Gene Culture" show organized by Suzanne Anker at Fordham University.

Michael Pollan, Second Nature (New York: Dell, 1991). The essay "Into the Rose Garden" examines rose varieties for their messages about social class.

Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire (New York, Random House, 2001) Subtitled "A plant's-eye view of the world", The Botany of Desire is about the evolutionary strategies of domesticated plants. Pollan focuses on how plants adapt to and exploit our aesthetic desires, craving for sweetness, and yearnings to control the universe. Pollan depicts domestication as fluid, wild, and dangerous, and sublime.

Paul Rabinow, Essays on the Anthropology of Reason (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1996).

Thomas Ray, “Evolution as Artist” in Art@Science, Sommerer C. and Mignonneau L, eds. (Springer: Vienna and New York) In this essay on evolutionary processes, Ray brings up issues relevant both to artificial life and to living organisms. (By living organisms I mean carbon-based entities. Neither ordinary nor scientific languages apply the word “life” to silicon entities. We should find another word for them.) Especially useful for plant and animal breeders is Ray’s distinction between control versus collaboration in humanly directed evolution. “In order to maximally exploit the creative potential of evolution, it is necessary for the human collaborator to give up most of their control over the process.” Ray’s conclusion is evidently informed by profound respect for evolution and the biosphere. A full list of Ray’s papers can be found at http://www.isd.atr.co.jp/~ray/pubs/

Sonya Rapoport. Many of Rapaport's webwork pieces, notably "Mirror of Nature" (1977), "The Transgenic Bagel,"(1993), "Transgenic Patch" (1993), "Smell Your Destiny" (1995) and "Redeeming the Gene, Molding the Golem, Folding the Protein" (2001) involve genetics. These and other works can be found at http://www.sonyarapoport.net . Rapoport blends scholarship, storytelling, humor, and visuals culled from many sources to critique genetic engineering as currently practiced.

J. N. Rentoul, The Hybrid Story (Portland, OR: Timber, 1991). A good history of orchid breeding.

Jeremy Rifkin, The Biotech Century (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1998). Rifkin is one of the best-known critics of biotechnology in the United States. Of particular interest to artists is Rifkin's concern that living art may be used to promote less attractive aspects of biotechnology. David Rindos, The Origins of Agriculture (Orlando: Academic Press, 1984).

Alexis Rockman. Second Nature (Normal, IL: Univ. Galleries of Illinois State Univ., 1995). Catalog. Rockman's paintings brilliantly summarize popular and scientific views of evolution.

Joanna Russ The Female Man. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1975 ). In literature and myth there is a long history of all-female worlds, but even in Valerie Solanas's original The Scum Manifesto, men were always necessary, if only as sperm donors. Russ was the first writer to explore the possibility, presented by the biological revolution, that male humans could be dispensed with altogether. She imagines a way to deliberately exterminate half of the human race---and good riddance, since male Homo sapiens (including children) in The Female Man have no redeeming qualities. Russ takes the war of the sexes to a new low. This masterwork of genocidal hatred is an important example of how the biological revolution can change imagination, and could change everything else.

Gary Schneider, Genetic Self-Portrait. (Syracuse, New York: Light Work, 1999) Catalog of an exhibition of Schneider's photographs held at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The photographs depict details of the artist's body, including chromosomes and mitochondrical DNA sequences. Self-porttraits tend to evoke the anthropocentrism of traditional Western art, but to a layperson like myself, most of the internal features of the body in Schneider's photographs do not look specifically human, so much as organic, and bring to mind the larger community of life.

Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hofmann, Plants of the Gods (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992). Of the 100 or so known species of hallucinogenic plants, many are domesticated and some are ornamentals.

Steven Shaviro, "Genetic Disorder" Art Forum, January, 2004. In 1988 Vilem Flusser published two articles on art and genetics. Twenty six years have passed, and now Art Forum has published another article on the subject. Genetic art is the slowest art, at least in Art Forum. You don't have to be grateful to Art Forum, but read Shaviro's article anyway. He criticizes genetic art for not going far enough toward creating a bioaesthetics, rather than just a bioethics. That's a fair criticism.

Paul Shepard, Nature and Madness (Athens, GA: Univ. of Georgia, 1982; reissued 1998). Shepard considered this his most important book. Itis perhaps the most devastating critique of agricultural civilization ever written. Essential reading for anyone interested in the application of art to genetics.

Paul Shepard, The Others (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1996). Argues that humans cannot breed animals with sufficient subtlety to compete esthetically, or in most other ways, with nature. Powerful statement of cultural and spiritual issues in animal breeding.

Paul Shepard, The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game (Athens, GA: University of Georgia, 1973, reiussued 1998). Includes a flawed but extremely interesting critique of domestication.

Lee M. Silver, Remaking Eden. (New York: Avon, 1997) Granted, Lee Silver can be offensive. He indulges in social Darwinism, seems incapable of imagining any alternatives to corporate America, and has a weakness for grandiose pronouncements like "We, as human beings, have tamed the fire of life." Still, Remaking Eden is essential reading for anyone interested in how genetic engineering is likely to be applied to humans. Silver, who teaches molecular biology at Princeton, gives concise, lucid accounts of cloning, IVF, and other new techniques of reproduction. His discussion of ethical and social considerations is wide-ranging, but at times insufficiently nuanced to do full justice to the issues. He skewers the gobbledegook at the heart of Catholic, Evangelical, and other major religious perspectives on what it is to be human. And he soars when he envisions the distant future. After several centuries of corporate struggles for profits from the human genome, he sees our species splitting into two, then four, and finally millions of species. Silver looks hard at the technological and social implications of the human drive to reproduce, but he is weaker on other human drives. Paul Shepard's Nature and Madness fills in the missing part of the picture. The two books should be read together.

Sacheverell Sitwell, Old Fashioned Flowers (London, England: Country Life, 1939). The only book-length study of ornamental plants as works of art. Brilliant and perverse. One of the few 20th-century garden books of genius. Unfortunately out of print.

Sue Spaid, Ecovention. (Cincinnati, Ohio: The Contemporary Arts Center, 2002.) This catalog was produced in conjunction with what may be the most important show of ecoart ever held. The projects in the show, mostly but not exclusively by artists, draw attention to the environment or to natural processes, and aim to maintain, restore, or transform ecologies. Most ecoart has a genetic dimension, although it is usually not explicit. However, works by Brandon Ballengee and Tera Galanti involve animal breeding. The catalog contains much material about the origins and early history of ecoart.

Olaf Stapleton, Last and First Men (Originally published in 1931; reissued by Dover, 1968). A vision of extraordinary scope, reaching a billion years into the future. At one point humans turn the biosphere into a gigantic art-driven evolutionary experiment. More relevant than most of today's science fiction.

Gerfried Stocker and Christine Schöpf, eds., LifeScience, Ars Electronica 99 (Vienna and New York: Springer, 1999). Proceedings of a major conference on the cultural implications of biotechnology. Scientists and academicians predominate in the proceedings, but artists are well represented. Articles by Jeremy Rifkin, Lori Andrews, Herbert Gottweis, Manuel DeLanda, Dorothy Nelkin, Charles Mudebe and many others, and a range of art, including works by Gail Wight, Eduardo Kac, Tran. T. Kim-Trang and Karl Mihail. In German and English.

Jun Takita, "Bioluminescent Garden." Leonardo, Vol. 37, No. 4, 2004. A statement about creating a garden to feature genetically engineered luminesecent moss.

Paul Taylor, Dutch Flower Painting 1600--1720 (New Haven, CN.: Yale Univ. Press, 1995). Includes material on tulipomania, floral symbolism (which affected plant selection), and 17th-century Dutch garden design, which drew attention to individual plants, much as plant breeders' field plots do.

Irina Tchesnokova and Elena Tsvetaeva, eds. Communication and Identification in Contemporary Art. (Kaliningrad, Russia: Kaliningrad Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts, 2002.) Conference notes on bioart. Many of the artists are Russian. Includes an essay by Dmitry Bulatov in which he describes his creation in collaboration with the D. I. Ivanovsky Institute of Virology of a peyote cactus with genes that cause it to fluoresce. In Russian and English.

Paul Virilio, Art and Fear. Trans. Julie Rose. (London and New York: Continuum, 2003.) Every kind of art needs critics, if only to take the social temperature. Virilio accuses genetic artists of fostering eugenics, and assurring that the spirit of the Nazis will triumph in our culture. Unfortunately for his case, he has apparently not bothered to actually look at any works of genetic art. Unchecked by the mundane realities of artists' labors, his imagination runs wild. He's worth reading as a reminder that flights of fancy sometimes come in the guise of philosophy.

Gail Wight and Eduardo Kac, "Gail Wight: Spike, Eduardo Kac: Genesis," O.K. Centrum für Gegenwartskunst in cooperation with Ars Electronica Center and ORF Landesstudio, Austria (1999). Catalog. Genesis is a major work of art employing the tools of genetic engineering. In German and English.

H.G.Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Nightmare vision, written in 1896, but contemporary fears are much the same.

Phillip Williams, ed., Handbook for Judges and Show Officials (The American Iris Society, 1985). Presents esthetic criteria for judging irises. The values are typical of those held by ornamental plant breeders. In plant breeding long-term esthetic trends are often set by orchid breeders. For the history of orchid breeding see J.N. Rentoul, The Hybrid Story (Portland, OR: Timber, 1991). See also Handbook on Judging and Exhibition, 9th Edition (West Palm Beach, FL: American Orchid Society, 1991).

E.O. Wilson Biophilia (Cambridge, MA; Harvard Univ. Press, 1984). Biophilia suggests that there is a genetic basis for at least some kinds of esthetic perception. A very important theoretical work for artists, especially those working on biological issues.

E.O.Wilson and S. R. Kellert, The Biophilia Hypothesis (Washington, D.C.: Island, 1993).

Stephen Wilson, Information Arts. (MIT Press: Cambridge, Mass. and London England, 2002) Wilson presents a valuable summary of genetic art and related work in this 945-page survey of art on the frontier between art and science. Information Art contains sections titled “Artists Working with Microbiology”, “Plants and Animals”, “Ecological Art”, and “Body and Medicine”. The book also includes a wealth of material on artificial life.

Amy M. Youngs, "The Fine Art of Creating Life," Leonardo Vol. 33, No. 5 (2000). Youngs makes connections between artificial life and biological networks.

Adam Zaretsky, "Viva Vivo! Living Art is Dead" Leonardo, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2004. Much needed comic relief.

F.E. Zeuner, A History of Domesticated Animals (London: Hutchinson, 1963). Discusses relationships between humans and domesticated animals in terms of symbiosis and parasitism.




Updated 12 January 2005

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