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 Media contact:  
 Phillip Rollfing  

Eduardo Kac

Pioneering bio artist lectures
at College of Architecture



Eduardo Kac, internationally known for his pioneering work in transgenic art, which utilizes genetic engineering techniques to create unique life forms, lectured Nov. 30, 2005 at the College of Architecture as part of the college’s Visiting Artist program, sponsored by the Texas A&M’s Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts.

Over the course of his 25-year career, Kac (pronounced “katz”) has used poetry, open-air dramatic performances, television, holograms, the Web and “art robots,” as well as other diverse media, to investigate the philosophical and political dimensions of communications and biotechnology. Much of his art is designed to be interactive and to elicit strong, often controversial, responses from those who experience it.

At the lecture, Kac will discussed his “telepresence” work, which explores the interaction between organisms and new technologies like robots, computers and the Internet. The artist also talked about his provocative transgenic works, which include “GFP Bunny,” an albino rabbit genetically altered with green fluorescent protein (GFP) from a jellyfish, enabling it to glow bright green when exposed to fluorescent light.

Kac also reviewed his other transgenic works: “The Eighth Day” and “Move 36.”

“ The Eighth Day” is a self-contained ecology bringing together transgenic life forms — fluorescent amoeba called Dyctiostelium discoideum — and a biological robot, or “biobot.” The amoeba act as “brain cells,” forming a biological network within the robot that is responsible for aspects of its behavior. This environment, housed under a four-foot Plexiglas dome, is linked interactively to the Internet, making visible what it would be like if these creatures co-existed in the world.

“ Move 36,” which includes a transgenic plant created by Kac, sheds light on the limits of the human mind and the increasing capabilities of computers and robots. The project’s title makes reference to the dramatic 36th move made by the computer, Deep Blue, against the world chess champion, Gary Kasparov, in the highly publicized 1997 man-versus-machine chess match.

“ This competition may be characterized as a match between the greatest chess player who ever lived, and the greatest chess player who never lived,” Kac said.

As viewers walk into the space, they see a chessboard made of sand and earth, flanked by digital projections, and the plant rooted precisely in the square where the computer defeated the human — where move 36 was made.

After the lecture, Kac autographed copies of his new book Telepresence and Bio Art — Networking Humans, Rabbits and Robots, published by The University of Michigan Press.

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