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Baskin Visual Arts Studios
University of California, Santa Cruz
June 18 - August 27, 2001

This exhibition features work by internationally-recognized artists who open paths of inquiry about genetic information and its profound implications for our lives. Featured artists include Joan Fontcuberta, Susan Rankaitis, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, and Helen Donis-Keller, a former molecular biologist.

With the rough draft of the Human Genome map literally drawn, the challenges and opportunities have only begun.

"We are," writes Robert Sinsheimer, "the first species, of all the millions that have had their era during 3 billion years of life on Earth, to comprehend our origins and now we have the ability to reveal the very genesis of our being."

As lay people look on in awe or ignorance, confusion and quandary, what is understood is that the human genome map is not only about you, it is inherently within you.

What of the revelations? Who can aid us in understanding this self --our own self--in its elegant complexity and intricacy?

MIT Professor Eric Lander has noted that "Scientific revolutions may start with dry, objective data, but their ultimate impact depends on human interpretation in a societal context. Scientific milestones set off a search, often a struggle, for the metaphors and images that will be used to connect the findings with our daily lives."

Artists offer one path of discovery, as they seek to make the unfamiliar visible, to create images and metaphors that connect "the human genome map" to our own psychic terrain.

The exhibition Genomic Art presents the work of a variety of artists engaged in the struggle to understand and to interpret some of the complex information of this genetic age for us, the general public. In a sense, these artists are social mediators, offering interpretations and possibilities, as they adopt and adapt some of the remarkable new techniques and technologies available to scientists who are unraveling "the genesis of our being."

On the UC Santa Cruz campus, an historic genome workshop was convened in 1985 to discuss the feasibility of sequencing the human genome. In 2001, a conference of distinguished scientists will commemorate that modest beginning of what has become a "scientific milestone." And they invite you to engage with them in a dialogue about the future in a public forum.

Artists and scientists alike are reinventing a portrait of the human race. They are driven by the desire to know our selves, to probe our inner workings and to understand our identity. This exhibition of genomic art is one effort to build an interactive dialogue between visual artists and scientists willing to help each other to understand ourselves.


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