Genetically Modified Music: Mixed Feelings.

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We’re at that point now. We can talk about growing music. Artist David Benqué’s piece Acoustic Botany is a series of models and diagrams for a genetically engineered music and sound garden. It envisions insects created to chew in rhythm, flower pods designed to explode at certain intervals, and Lily Pads that amplify the death throes of bugs in a vascular speaker structure.

I gotta say this makes me just the slightest bit nauseous, and not for the obvious old-lady-with-a-clipboard reasons (nature is nature! etc). It’s because of the roles and responsibilities of the artist inherent in the work. Here I was all excited about environmental art because it’s such a great example of the logistical application of the aesthetic, of an artist’s capacity to engage and care, a unity of practical and aesthetic reason. Now, again, sing the the memes of art trumping reason, or at least twisting it severely to achieve its goals.

A genetically modified art installation, with no comment to make on genetic modification itself, no analysis really of the human/nature relationship, really just an artistic exploration of the fun and pretty things we could do with plants if given the opportunity to play with their DNA. And I bet it would be stunning.Bugs designed to chew in rhythm! What kind of glorious aesthetic high would visitors to this installation get? Awe and wonder of science, with a little bit of nature, maybe.

Benqué’s vision is far from being realized, but it’s ready to start some serious conversations now.

Go to the Green Museum

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