The artwork GFP: A Cabinet for Real and Imagined Futures Instance #2 comments on the disparity between the reality and common perceptions of genetic engineering.
The top section includes a Perspex dome with Petri dish containing preserved GFP transformed E. coli bacteria in resin. The bacteria has been altered to express a GFP gene originally isolated from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. The expression of the GFP gene results in a green glow of the bacteria when exposed to UV light*. The lower section of the cabinet reflects on imagined fears and fantasies of genetic engineering and incorporates a faux genetically engineered mutant chicken surrounded by a fantastical landscape that incorporates both wondrous and uncanny elements. The work reflects on the perception that genetic engineering with result in mutant creatures with frightening and uncanny features, while the realities of current genetic modification occur at a genome level and are often imperceptible to the naked eye.
*For safety reasons, the bacteria incorporated in this installation were fixed using a bleach solution. This has rendered the bacteria inert, but compromised the fluorescent ability of the bacteria. While the installation includes fixed samples of the genetically transformed bacteria, the fluorescence was enhanced using fluorescent pigments.
This work connects to the Fluorescent Future Creatures workshop presented by Svenja Kratz and Annette Spierings at The Edge during the Fringes period. The workshop enabled participants to transform E. coli bacteria with GFP and create a glowing LED jellyfish-garden diorama to take home and commemorate the experience.