Originally published in The Tampa Tribune, Florida, Sep 25, 2000.

Sep 24, 2000 - 11:35 PM

Is it art or is it a mad hare?
of The Tampa Tribune

Genetics now has become performance art.

Most of us knew all along it was going to come to this,
although I really thought they would come up with something
in the line of a genetically designed quarterback before they
wasted all that time on art.

Of course it was the French, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Not only will
those people eat anything if it has a nice cream sauce on top, they probably
would like green glowing bunnies, as long as they could eat them later on.

You must have seen the story last week where one Eduardo Kac - rhymes
with hack - who claims to be an artist and is actually an assistant professor at
the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, showed up with a rabbit that emits a
green glow.

The bunny is the result of the efforts of a team of French genetic researchers
who were convinced by Kac - still rhymes with hack - that it might be a good
idea to create a living rabbit whose DNA is combined with that of a
phosphorescent jellyfish.

Right away you hope the Almighty is not French.

At least the French National Institute of Agronomic Research stepped in and
they have custody of the bunny. They took the animal when Kac said he was
going to take it back to Chicago with him.

YOU CAN IMAGINE the controversy, although some scientists don't see any
problem with all of this. One Harvard professor said, ``In a sense, this rabbit is
not any sillier than a Chihuahua,'' claiming that many animals are products of
a kind of genetic engineering in the form of breeding by humans over
thousands of years.

Alba, as the bunny is known, apparently was supposed to ``interact with Kac in
a faux living room as a piece of performance art.''

Kac - also rhymes with snack - refers to it as ``transgenic art.'' He says he
wanted to create a character at once ``lovable'' and ``alien.'' He went on to
suggest that ``it is a new era and we need a new kind of art.''

Right. We need new art like we need New Coke.

On the other hand, there are some possibilities.

If they can do a rabbit, then a cat ought to be a piece of cake. That would help
around our house where the two cats are confined unless someone leaves a
door ajar and they can bolt for freedom outside.

The cats know that this drives my wife nuts, so they will hide in closets or
under the beds until she is convinced they have bolted outside. This usually
happens about the fourth quarter of the Monday night game and she sends
me out into the dark with a flashlight looking for them.

If we could send them to the vet for a little transgenic work and get back two
cats that glow in the dark, we wouldn't have to sweat them escaping.

AND IF IT WORKS for cats ... well my high school son assures me that the big
thing on campus these days is highlighting your hair, which, considering some
of the other body-altering possibilities, doesn't sound so bad.

But you wonder what it's going to be like when teens can stop off at the
transgenic store in Ybor City and have themselves transformed into something
that gives off a soft glow in the dark. At least they won't be able to hide when
it's time to take out the trash.

That's just the beginning. If they can make a rabbit that glows green in the
dark, they can surely do the same for a politician.

How hard could it be to design a transgenic politician who changes color when

Of course, mixing a politician with a phosphorescent jellyfish might seem

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