January 24, 2009 - March 28, 2009 // OTIS Ben Maltz Gallery, Los Angeles
The Future Imaginary
Lea Rekow
project  |  about the artist

This project focuses on our attempts to control and dominate natural systems.  In the two kaleidoscopes that are installed in the ‘Future Imaginary’, we see fragmentations of two natural systems – that of a bee colony; and of human cells. Both these organic systems have been compromised by efforts to dominate and manipulate nature.

In this work, I consider the series micro-organism-plant-animal-human. Should we draw a line limiting genetic manipulation at some point? If so where, and on what grounds? Which potential benefits, if any (e.g. therapeutic medicines), might be thought to justify biochemical manipulation, which would not? What criteria might we apply? What constitutes proper and improper human use of animals? Should we eat foodstuffs which had been genetically manipulated using human genes? Should anyone be able to patent a genetically modified animal or plant? Is the profit motive too dominant a driving force in research in biotechnology? Are we reducing animals, and nature in general, to the status of just commodities? How great are the potential risks involved in releasing genetically modified organisms into the biosphere without knowing all the possible consequences?  Is genetic engineering to make a staple crop more resist in marginal conditions (e.g. drought, cold) a potential boon for Third World agriculture, or another danger of increased system collapse, as with the bee colonies?  How should we handle an emotive issue about which opinions are apt to be polarised at a very fundamental level? How do we make "expert technologies" accountable to society?  How should the public be represented in what goes on?  How do we handle issues of information and misinformation, the media and lobbying? How far should commercial secrecy be allowed, and how far should a firm be obliged to publish?  What are our motives in genetic engineering? - commercial, humanitarian, curiosity, professional kudos, national interests, to improve mankind, ...? Are there better medical or biotechnical things to be doing with our research money than genetic engineering?