Recent developments in genetic engineering and biotechnology have raised a multitude of ethical, economic, social and civic issues. Gene Genies Worldwide©™ encompasses these issues and serves to raise consciousness, foster civic dialogue on accountability and ownership concerns, and as a catalyst for action by imagining a possible future and challenging viewers to question that future. Gene Genies Worldwide©™ highlights the alienation of modern consumers. In a society where the majority of individuals are twice exploited as worker and consumer (where the level of activity is reduced to having instead of creating), we need an art that addresses the conjunction of biotechnology and consumer culture to provide a critical evaluation of everyone’s civic role.
Gene Genies Worldwide Store at One Colorado Mall, Old Town Pasadena, CA. (1998)
Gene Genies Worldwide©™, a collaboration between Tran, T. Kim-Trang and Karl Mihail was first realized as a public art installation. The nature of the installation was a conceptual retail space for a fictitious company offering services and products to custom design our clients’ genetic codes in order to enhance and augment their personalities. The boutique, which was to be “opening soon” in a high-end retail shopping mall, engaged with the viewing public in a discussion of several interrelated issues: genetic engineering, consumer culture, late capitalism, public space, and the role of art in society at large. The installation was successful in raising consciousness by offering an imagined future scenario; initiating an ongoing dialogue; and subverting its context by exploiting the high-end retail atmosphere. The installation spoke of the commercialization of science, technology, and the free market where the limit does not end with either our food supply or our very physical make-up. The mall was also in the vicinity of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology, as well as the Art Center College of Design, whose members were included in the audience.
Creative Gene Harvest Archive (plexiglass, glass vials, human hair, text. 16”x36”x10”. 1999)
After Pasadena we were invited to create a work for an exhibition at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. The Creative Gene Harvest Archive became our instrument in subverting the context wherein the work was viewed and investigating the shifting boundary between art and science. The Creative Gene Harvest Archive began with Gene Genies Worldwide©™’s intent to harvest, store, and utilize the genetic codes for creativity collected from some of society’s most exemplary and recognized creative individuals in order to design and imbue future personalities with these same traits. In this display, we have selected a representative sampling from over 10,000 gifted individuals who have made significant contributions to the arts and sciences over the past fifteen years. To gaze upon this collection is to be a witness to creativity, it is a truly significant work of art in its own right. The harvest is ongoing and the archive is under consideration for being recognized as the eighth natural wonder of the world.
China Campaign 2000 (plastics, vinyl. 33”x51”. 2000)
Another project, China Campaign 2000, was a promotional campaign to publicize Gene Genies Worldwide©™’s services to the Chinese population, tapping into the world’s largest marketplace. The project consisted of banners in the style of contemporary Chinese propaganda posters, in both English and Chinese, and meant to be hung throughout China, in the cities and countryside. The project was on exhibit at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Gallery, Downtown Los Angeles.
Gene Genies Worldwide©™ Gallery at the Brewery (sign. 2001)
In April of 2001 we unveiled our latest venture into the world of Fine Arts, the Gene Genies Worldwide©™ Gallery at the Brewery. The gallery marked a bold new step in our efforts to secure the longevity of our work and identity. Our ambitious five-year plan was to institute programs featuring science-based projects in exhibitions, educational programs, and collaborations amongst artists and scientists. The gallery also served to highlight our own endeavors, both artistic and scientific, in the biotech field: acting as a laboratory for on-going research and harvesting of genetic materials as well as providing the future interface for public relations. We have established the goal of this and all Gene Genies Worldwide©™ galleries to be an incubator for cultural and scientific experiments, bringing in a new age of value production and commodity exchange.
Women in Technology Game (flash game. 2002)
Commissioned by artist Natalie Bookchin for her online game, titled Metapet, Gene Genies Worldwide’s©™ Women in Biotechnology concentration game highlights the contributions of 10 scientists and thinkers such as Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, and Vandana Shiva.
GGW Ads (video. 2mins. 2004)
Exhibited at the Armory Center for the Arts, and as part of the TEN exhibition produced by NewTown Pasadena, this elevator installation displayed three ads we created for Gene Genies Worldwide©™. The ads were originally commissioned by Frauke Sandig and Erik Black for a PBS-funded documentary they produced titled Frozen Angels, on the topic of reproductive technologies in Los Angeles. As a reaction to the ubiquity and penetration of the media, the installation emulates embedded TV’s in institutional elevators where there is a captive audience, and try as they might, viewers can never really ignore the messages being aired.
NSF Award #9119703 (plastics, metal, tap water, salt, watercolor. 2005)
NSF Award #9119703: FIBR: Role of Perchlorate in Breast Milk as an Inoculation for Terror visualizes an unprecedented research project by Gene Genies Worldwide©™, funded by the National Science Foundation, to create an antidote to terror. Exploiting the pre-existing condition of perchlorate (a derivative of jet fuel) found in ground water and breast milk samples across the U.S., Gene Genies Worldwide©™ has developed a hybrid form of perchlorate to enhance its effects on human physiology. The display in this venue continues our efforts to bridge the sciences and arts while publicizing our activities in innovative ways.