New Biodiversity

genetically altered plants installation, 2017-2018

artist's preview of the exhibition, the paper plants represent the real new living forms of plants that will only be shown at the exhibition

« Nature is that you ? »

The project « New Biodiversity » follows directly on from “Faint Equilibrium”. This work was presented at the Art & Biology Conference in June 2017, University of Caen, France.

In the continuity of “Faint Equilibrium”, “New Biodiversity“ ironically turns a selected herbicide, designed to reduce spontaneous diversity in crops, into a tool creating new random biodiversity. This project, like the previous one, represents a long laboratory development work, and ends with an installation artwork displaying genetically altered plants. It presents a procedural technic for the random generation of genetically modified living and perennial artworks.

Cultures obtained for “Faint Equilibrium” are here subjected to another additional herbicide: oryzalin (short for 4-(dipropylamino)-3,5-dinitrobenzènesulfonamide). This molecule targets fibers constituting the cell skeleton, the microtubules. These fibers are, among many functions, responsible for the equal distribution of chromosomes during cell reproduction.

At high doses, oryzalin totally prevents cell functioning, but at infinitesimal concentrations it can disturbs chromosome distribution without killing the cells. When growing under the influence of 2,4-D (see “Faint Equilibrium”), the anarchical cell division tends to significantly lower the reliability of DNA replication. When orylalin is added, the interference is even stronger. In these conditions, errors randomly happen during cell division and give birth to cells having new random chromosomal and DNA composition (somaclonal variations, polyploidy, trisomy, etc.) Modified cells can be regenerated into plants that can display radically different appearance from parent lineage, or on the contrary, mutations can stay invisible to the eye (yet it could modify the behavior of the plant or its chemical composition).

As the former project “Faint Equilibrium” did address questionings on the transformation of individuals; “New Biodiversity” raises questions on the evolutionary fate of species, as transformation can randomly alter the support of heredity, not just directly destroying but creating new life forms.

« New Biodiversity » wants its visitors to be overwhelmed by the ambiguity of artificially induced mutations; giving new evolution opportunities to living species, potentially creating new biodiversity and at the same time threatening nature as we know it.

The project was realized in partnership with La Fabrique de la réalité, Empire Géométrique, Université de Caen, IUT de Génie Biologique and Fabrique APEFIM. New partnerships are welcome for future developments and exhibitions.