Transgenic Morphosis


Digifest/Fluid Youth Day March 29th 2003 @ The Toronto Design Exchange

“The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”(1)

Science and technology are forcing us into a new era of ethical development as human beings on this planet.
The popular press inundates us daily with the hope of someday living forever, self replicating nanotechnologies(2) including but not limited to cloning(3), “non-invasive implants that will allow us to go on-line from the “privacy” of our own brain(4), and GM foods that won’t make us fat(5) but might make us smarter. 

For an indication of the confusion we live in, consider the following: we have been witness to the global race between scientists eager to be the first to clone a human being and governments eager to pass legislation forbidding such actions.
In the controversy, governments have been swift to act against cloning which may, arguably, have humanitarian benefits, whereas the recent development of brain scanning that claims to be able to identify the brain of actual or potential criminal minds (not unlike Orwell’s “thought crime”) is heralded as being a great development in the war on terrorism and the ethical considerations of such a device and its application hardly raise an eyebrow.

Transgenic Morphosis draws our attention to the ethics and real cost of technology to our humanity. The installation takes the form of a museum-like display that propels viewers into the far future where they can view primitive artefacts dating back to the 20th and 21st century.
The physical specimens on display depict the extrapolation of existing technologies gone awry and are seen by way of stereoscopic images and 8mm film loops encapsulated within Biomechanical pods that hang in space, suspended from their “umbilical” cords. Quasi-robotic in appearance visitors can speculate whether these Biomechanical pods are time capsules, the shells of downloaded memories, or severed heads of something that once walked the earth. Non-digital mediums are used to help represent/create the sense of awkward obsolescence our present day technology will seem like to a future audience.

still from super 8 clip showing a stop-motion sequence of one of many non-invasive implants

On display with the Biomechanical pods are transgenic organisms comprised of sterling silver, intestine, and silicone that incorporate proximity sensors, vibrating motors, sound operated controls, and shape memory alloys.

These organisms conjecture a future that may include an unexpected evolution from biotechnological wastes coming from enhanced human corpses and their excrement. An example is the alarmingly high concentrations of oestrogen that are currently found in many bodies of fresh water that are causing disruptive effects on the breeding cycles and feminization of fish and other aquatic life forms. What will happen to the nano/biotechnologies introduced into our bodies through ingestion?

BioPods housed super 8 loops & stereoscopic imagery

non-invasive implant macro view. sterling silver, gut, servo motors, LEDs, sound sample. Light activated motion sensors.

non-invasive implant macro view. sterling silver, gut, servo motors, LEDs, sound sample, silicone, light activated motion sensor

Visitors are given their very own “non-invasive” implant upon entering the installation for the purpose of interacting with the Biomechanical pods, immediately connecting them to the possible necessity of the personal incorporation of new technologies to their physical being in order to function in a future society.

“We won’t engineer human body 2.0 all at once….Most of us will wait for digestive system version 2.1 or even 2.2 before being willing to dispense with version 1.0” (6)

“By 2200 Homo Sapiens will be the first species on Earth to have become voluntarily extinct.” (7)

* * * *
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Original installation concept and creation (2002-2003) by artists:

Tosca Hidalgo y Terán’s mediums include an ibook, a mac G3, metal, electronics, FlashMX and audio.
She has been working with metal and computers for 3 decades. Striving to integrate the two within her jewellery and sculptural objects, her current work explores this integration through a combination of wire frame constructions, hollow forms, shape memory alloys, silicone, intestine, sound chips, proximity sensors, sonic distortions, and 3D scans.
Tosca has been residing in Toronto since 2001

Steve Storz has been regarded for his technological sculptures for more than 20 years. Much of his work deals with the issues of cast-off devices and materials that emanate from places like “Silicon Valley.”
His works have included large scale installations for San Francisco’s DNA Lounge, film and performance art companies, electronic and steel sculptures, avant-garde music, the World’s Largest Top Hat and a smattering of two dimensional works.
Steve has recently re-entered the film world with a short film called
Embrace that was shown at the Taos Talking Picture Festival in 2002.
Steve Storz currently resides in Taos, New Mexico.

Andrei Gravelle has produced several bodies of photographic work in the last decade that have explored themes of mortality, mutation and alienation. Recent works have included “Broken Heads”, a series of memento mori for the post-modern age and the “Genome Project”, a photographic exploration of the moral and ethical crisis born of today’s scientific development. Andrei has spent much time as a “voyeur”, producing few but very intense artistic statements in a variety of media including live music, performance , theatre, gender and film.
Andrei collaborates with Tosca Teran on a 24/7 basis and has been a member of Gallery 44 for the last 6 years.

1. William Gibson
2. Bill Joy, WIRED magazine, March 2000
3. Human Genome News, January 1998, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome Program
4. When computers exceed Human intelligence, The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil (New York Penguin U.S.A 1999)
5. GM pigs are both meat and veg, Emma Young, New Scientist Magazine, January 2002
6. Ray Kurweil, Introducing Human Body 2.0 “Future of Life”
Conference, Time Magazine February 2003
7. Ian Pearson, The Future of Human Evolution, Sphere February 2000,

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