Originally published in San Francisco Chronicle, September 25, 2000, p. D4. <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/09/25/BU21858.DTL>
Glowing Bunny Draws Big Response
Monday, September 25, 2000
The story about Alba, the glowing rabbit, whose DNA was combined with that of a phosphorescent jellyfish ("A Controversial New Canvas,'' Sept. 19), brought a strong response from readers. Here's a sample of the letters we received:
Editor -- Chicagoan Eduardo Kac calls himself an artist because he ordered a French laboratory to create a glow-in-the-dark rabbit for Kac to use as some kind of twisted statement about technology and his current view of what constitutes daily life.
The result was ``a living breathing rabbit whose DNA is combined with that of a phosphorescent jelly.'' When illuminated with black-light the rabbit ``gives off another-worldly glow from every cell in her body, her paws, her whiskers and especially her eyes.''
Kac himself created nothing, so where is the artistic involvement between his bizarre concept and his so- called work? If this man had any nerve, then he should have made himself glow in the dark and spared the helpless rabbit. But since this isn't about an artist taking any chances with himself, or with his work, he decided to hire a lab to create a statement for him.
Kac says: ``It is a new era, and we need a new kind of art. It makes no sense to paint as we painted in the caves.''
True it is a new era, and we could use some genuinely creative new art -- but inflicting biotechnological nightmares on defenseless creatures doesn't seem to qualify as either new or innovative, much less artistic. Mr. Kac has been
visiting too many new age galleries that share his personal lack of historical perspective, to qualify as any kind of authority on what painting should be in this new era.
At least when the cave paintings were created 15,000 years ago, there was a direct relationship between the images depicted and the daily life of the individuals who found value in those paintings. The same can hardly be said of Kac's blatant grab for notoriety. If science and animal-rights activists are upset, please know that at least one artist is adamantly opposed as well.
NEW LEVEL FOR ART
Editor -- Eduardo Kac's art piece is a remarkable and timely creation which is bound to make an indelible mark on the worlds of art, science, and ethics. Like many unforgettable artists before him, Kac has managed to shake up a jaded world which believes it has seen it all.
Genetic manipulation is a new and sensitive issue which strikes fear in many people, but with hindsight, we can see this is a position in which we as humans have found ourselves many times. Our Western concepts of a single Creator, of the natural perfection of each species, our suspicion of science, are all shaken by Kac's creation.
His audacity at taking into his own hands the manipulation of life we've only (with much distrust) allowed scientists, and the humor with which he proceeded, make this a compelling situation which forces us to deal with a difficult issue I think we were hoping to stave off a few more years.
LIGHT UP THE ARTIST
Editor -- Regarding the article about Kac, the artist who collaborated with a European laboratory to create a rabbit that glows when backlit, all in the name of a new exciting art form -- I suggest that he collaborate further with scientists and find a way with some uranium product to make himself glow when backlit, frontlit or not lit, thereby making himself into a new art form and eliminating the boredom he has with already existing art.
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