Grove Art Online, Oxford University Press, 16 Sept 2010. <>

Kac, Eduardo
(b. 1962).

Chicago-based multimedia artist, poet and theorist. Kac’s pioneering works lie at the intersection of telecommunications and biotechnology, forging new, hybrid forms that merge biological processes and new media. Early works include body-based performances, holopoetry (Kac’s invented form of visual poems using holography; see Hologram), robotics and innovative online projects at the Web’s infancy.

Kac’s interest in telecommunications, computers and robotics led to experimental projects that integrated these various systems under the rubric of what the artist has termed ‘telepresence art’ (2005; see Kac, p. 127; see also Computer art). In 1989, he created the wireless robot Ornitorrinco (platypus in Portuguese), in collaboration with Ed Bennett, used in a nearly decade-long series of works that explored communication between humans and robots. A-positive (1997), in which a human and a robot engage in a physical exchange via an intravenous needle, probes the ethical implications of the human–machine interface. Working across disciplines, the artist defines (and redefines) the arena of electronic space to include ‘dialogical’ means of interactivity and interspecies communication, as in Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1994), a live sonic installation that nurtured dialogue between a canary and a philodendron.

Throughout his career, Kac has expanded the parameters of contemporary art, creating new art forms and new fields of aesthetic investigation. He coined the terms ‘Bio art’ and ‘transgenic art’ in groundbreaking works in which living organisms were genetically modified. ‘Transgenic art,’ stated Kac, ‘is a new art form based on the use of genetic-engineering techniques to transfer synthetic genes to an organism or to transfer natural genetic materials from one species to another, to create living beings’ (2000, see interview Tema Celeste).

Eduardo Kac: GFP Bunny, transgenic rabbit, 2000; image courtesy of…Perhaps the most well known of Kac’s works is his controversial GFP Bunny (2000), a green fluorescent rabbit named Alba, created in a genetics lab in Jouy-en-Josas, France. Alba, an albino, was born from a fertilized rabbit cell that was injected with a green fluorescent gene found in jellyfish, which illuminates under blue light. Public controversy first ensued when the lab refused to release Alba to the artist, thus generating media coverage debating the social and moral issues surrounding genetic engineering. Alba served as the impetus for several of Kac’s other works, including his Lagoglyphs, begun in 2006 (see figs 1 and 2), various prints based on pictograms of rabbits.

Eduardo Kac: Natural History of the Enigma, transgenic flower with…In Natural History of the Enigma (2003/2008; see also fig.), Kac created a new life form—the ‘plantimal’ or ‘Edunia’—offering constructions of identity that span more than one biological species. Part flower, part human, Edunia is a hybrid between a petunia and the artist himself, whose own DNA is expressed in the red veins of the flower.

Kac is the author of several texts on the juncture between contemporary art and science, among them the book Telepresence and Bio Art: Networking Humans, Rabbits, and Robots (2005), a document of his work and ideas within a broader history of electronic art. He has exhibited widely and is the recipient of several awards, including the Golden Nica Award, Ars Electronica (2009).


Telepresence and Bio Art: Networking Humans, Rabbits, and Robots (Ann Arbor, 2005)

Natural History of the Enigma and Other Works (exh. cat., Rurart, Contemp. A. Cent., 2009)

See the artist’s website, (accessed 9 Sept 2010)



D. Perra: ‘Eduardo Kac: Interview’, Tema Celeste, 81 (July–Sept 2000), pp. 76–81

S. Britton and D. Collins, eds.: The Eighth Day: The Transgenic Art of Eduardo Kac (Tempe, 2003)


Susan Snodgrass

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