Installation view, SoFA Gallery

Human Nature II: Future Worlds

February 9-March 9, 2007

This exhibit, the second in the Human Nature series, contains contemporary art works by emerging and established artists who investigate the implications of new life sciences initiatives that are occurring in local, national and international communities. Human Nature will create an interdisciplinary forum to understand, through visual means, scientific ideas that directly relate to new and inevitable political, economic and ethical changes within our state and the larger world. Works of art will synthesize information about scientific research in the areas of genomics, medical research, biotechnology and genetics, bringing to mind the relationship of scientific and artistic experimentation.

Many of the featured artists employ scientific engineering and experimentation to create their artworks in order to critique these new initiatives. For instance, Paul Vanouse’s artworks incorporate scientific experimentation as a means of undermining the constructions of human identity that arise from such techniques. Vanouse approaches the social and cultural ramifications of scientific advancement from a critical standpoint. His critiques illuminate important ethical questions regarding genetic ownership, the commodification of the human body, and the changing status of organic life in general.

In light of dramatic breakthroughs in the field of molecular biology and genetic engineering, Eva Sutton’s recent work addresses the urgent social, ecological, and ethical implications of scientific advancement. She employs digital technologies to call attention to the porous boundaries between the natural and the synthetic, and to offer a critical assessment of the consequences of attempting to create the perfect being through genetic engineering.

Eduardo Kac is a pioneer in transgenic art, which he describes as, “a form of artistic creation based in genetic engineering for transference of genes…so as to create new forms of life.” His interactive installation Genesis 1999 was the first artwork to include genetic material, facilitating communication between scientific and philosophical research and exposing the provocative and often unsettling implications of contemporary scientific knowledge.

This project was supported by New Frontiers, the College Arts and Humanities Initiative at Indiana University, The Indiana Arts Commission, The Center for Bioethics at IUPUI, The Poynter Center for Ethics and the American Institution, the Office of Creative Services, the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, the Robert and Avis Burke Lecture Fund, and the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts at Indiana University

Exhibit catalog available

Publications via Friends of Art Bookshop, Indiana University