MaSm Metatransformation (2011)
In this project the question is posed if there is a possibility, considering the consequences of potential global food deficit and drastic reduction of the value of material goods, that human molecular production capacity in the DNA, as one of the few uncolonized biotechnological materials, could become a trade tool, (based on a system of genetic credit), which could become one of the next stages of evolution. By setting up the intersections of science, art and civil society, we therefore wonder who bears responsibility for our body? Are we the owners or just inhabitants of our bodies?
The phenomenological level of the project is based on the studies of the anthropology of fear. Reflecting on the future of evolution, the molecular mechanism of "correction" that maintains the survival of the species confirms that our successors will be different from us. Therefore, in the face of genetically modified organisms the ontology of such insight into the reality triggers anxiety that evokes our versions of previous embodiments that took place during the process of evolution, that is everything we were, but are not presently, and everything we will develop into. Such awareness, as one of the key social psychodynamics, inspires a negative attitude towards the "unclean" and aspires towards the "pure" or unmixed as transcendental primary quality, that interconnects markers of “good” and legitimate, that is to say, authoritarian within the law structures (of nature). At the same time, the following is interesting: even though the democratic humanistic positions contain a high resistance to the aspirations of the pure race, it is worth asking why we usually feel such great reluctance about crossing between different species, aren´t we then facing our own conservatism? The poetics of the project is also in the notion that the biotechnological material has been taken from the artists blood and therefore those visitors who choose to consume the final product, at the same time take the responsibility for their own body. Within this frame - the project statement is to adress the public to dwell on the responsibility and ownership of our bodies. That means that all the technological and scientific phenomena which criss our reality, need to take a critical stance which demistyfies those fields. For the notion that we live in a system of biopolitics leads to insights that the biopolitics means our coexistence with the systems of power, therefore the processes of conscious fetishising and disinformation support living within those closed systems.
Genetically modified microorganism – MaSm Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast that contains the artist´s enzyme, produces lactic acid during its primal survival function - the fermentation process. Lactic acid is amongst the most used aditives in the contemporary food industry.
The biotechnological part of the project with the use of five major protocols has been executed at the Institute of biochemistry at the Medical Faculty of the University in Ljubljana in Slovenia.
All of the equipment has been designed by the author and Marko Žavbi, lab. biomed. engineer in collaboration with dr. Špela Petrič, dr. Andrej Petrič and Andrej Strehovec.
By following all the Europe Union law regulations considering genetically modified organisms and food, the product has been analyzed with the chromatography system at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University in Ljubljana, where it was discovered it is not toxic or however harmful for human health. The product has also been filtered with the 0.2 micrometer filter and does not contain genetically modified organism when brought outside of the laboratory. However since the product has not been registered within the protocols of food industry, every participant needs to sign a form and drink it at his/her own responsibility. The form contains key informations about the biotechnological production and the analysis of the product.
Presentation of the project in the gallery starts with the artists venepunction and continues with the real time RNA isolation from her blood executed by two scientists at the openning. During the next two weeks, the author and one of her co-workers are executing each of the protocols which lead them to the yeast microorganism Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA transformation. The protocols are being executed in the laboratory set in the gallery with the guest laboratory participants – general public which has been offered a possibility to apply to open call for cooperation. The installation also contains a chimeric fermentation process of the transformed yeast and the offered final product – the beverage which transformed yeast made during its fermentation process. All of the equipment has been designed by the author and her co-workers.
Micro-organism humanized in this way establishes a unique metabolic system artificially produced in a laboratory as a genetical modyfied organism. The fermented product metabolizes lactose into lactic acid which is amongst the most important aditives used in the food industry. And therefore those visitors who choose to consume the final product, at the same time take the responsibility for their own body.
Conceptual // Dramaturgical // Technological Description
Author of the project and execution: Maja Smrekar
Co worker at the filed of molecular biology and artistic advisory: dr. Špela Petrič
Co worker at the field of biochemistry and laboratory biomedicine: Marko Žavbi,. lab. biomed. engineer
Construction plan and map design: Andrej Strehovec
The project has been executed in cooperation with Institute of Biochemistry,
Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana
dr. Ana Plemenitaš, dr. Metka Lenassi, dr. Andrej Petrič, dr. Zlata Luthar, dr. Borut Bohanec, dr. Matej Šergan,
dr. Neža Čadež, dr. Maja Paš, Department of biotechnology MESP/ dr. Martin Batič, dr. Ruth Rupreht, dr. Petra
Zadravec and Polonca Krajnc, Mojca Žavbi
Production: Kapelica Gallery - Zavod K6/4
Supported by: Ministry of Culture/Republic of Slovenia, Municipality of Ljubljana, Domel d.d. / Tehtnica Železniki