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Author: Tania Markoutsa Magazine: Eikones (2007-10-27) Page: 30 Masthead: BIOTECHNOLOGY Title: The generation of Genpets The scenario of the future is here now, alive and horrific, in the site www.genpets.com, which design a young artist of Toronto. Do you want to have at home a pet who never barking appropriate hours, which doesn‟t need a walk… and when you are going vacation, you can close it in a box and hibernate. The seeming of Genpets, the pets that are creations of biotechnology, remind unworldly, they are fast in a diaphanous box, they are sell in toyshop and of course they are alive. If you look carefully inside the plastic box, you can see the heart area moving measuredly but colored lights prove that breath normally. Proud for the cration, Bio-Genica, boast that redefined nature and provides that future is a bright and wonderful place. Behind monstrosities and site hide the genius thesis of 25 years old Adam Brandejs and his friend Crystal Pallister. The recent BFA graduate of the Ontario College of Art & Design talk us about his work. How do you thought about this art-joke (gen-pets)? First, it‟s not meant as a joke, it‟s a serious subject, the project is designed to cause thought and discussion. Genpets is a largely a social commentary with a question. Genpets touches on a few issues, the most obvious one is Bioengineering. I want people to think about where we should take this technology now that it is becoming more accessible. We‟re engineering our food supply, altering nature, creating bioengineered cats, all with little thought or research onto the long term effect. Unlike natural selection or selective breeding, bioengineering occurs at a much faster rate, and does not allow other natural systems to adapt to the sudden change. History has already taught us that introducing foreign elements into the environment has massive effects, and yet it appears we are doomed to repeat those same mistakes. The Genpets project also touches base on how we treat animals, hence why they are packaged. When I walk into a pet store I am not seeing a loving environment. I am seeing life pasturized into a consumer gaze. Animals are in small cages and are diffused through supply and demand. I simply took it one step further to make a connection that was all the more obvious. People want convenience at any price, well, as long as that price is competitive that is. Having the Genpets fed by tubes and chemical supplements also mirrors some of the mistreatment happening in large factory farms or testing labs, in which animals are not considered anything more than 'product'. I hope that through art like this, and further work, I can do my part to bring some of these issues to discussion, rather than remain under the mainstream radar. We need a little controversy, from art, as well as science, people are all too happy to sit back and let the world turn without thinking about things or fighting for their right to have an opinion. The more controversy there is, the more people will talk about the ideas behind them and this is a good thing. Do you believe that nowadays are parents ready to buy such a toy? Parents no. children yes. And those children will one day be parents. Every generation gets more desensitized to buying. Children unfortunately love it. I made it too believable I guess. I tried so hard to play the „evil‟ marketer, or corporation, and I succeeded How many people believed that gen-pets are true? A lot. There is a strong sarcastic tone to everything written on the page, but even native English speaking viewers fail to pick up on it. Genpets gets millions of visitors, and thousands of emails. I want there to be a suspension of disbelief, like watching a movie you get involved with the story and forget you‟re simply in the theatre, I think art can do that as well. For the message behind Genpets it‟s clear that people need to believe it is real, or at least question it for a short period of time. My goal is not to trick people though. I simply want to make people question what they might otherwise not question and to think about these issues. These are issues that have to be thought about and discussed before they happen, rather than after. I hope that through art like this, and further work, I can do my part to bring some of these issues to discussion, rather than remain under the mainstream radar. Do you think that is the icon of the near future? Our grandchildren are going to play with alive-toys? I completely believe by the time I have grand children they will be playing with living toys. While the concept of this is scary for me, children now viewing genpets love them and want them, for the most part they don‟t seem to care about the feelings of the animals. Today in Greece “Our big problem today is our fears” told us the doctor of law and scientific counsellor of National Commission of Bioethic, Takis Vidalis. Our fears are justified up to a point but there is a myth about biotechnology. We think that everything can happen. This is not right. Nowadays and for the near future, technically, we are not capable to create creatures like Genpets”. Signalize that the most successes of tech are for benefit. Contrary, there is not interest, neither economic, to create such creatures. “The time we chase witches and ghosts has past. It‟ s mistake to return to past.
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