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The Ethics of Living Art



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Art is one of the most integral components of human society. Beyond enriching our minds with culture, it prompts us to ask creative and ethical questions about the very cultures we presume to be enriched by. Some of the ways it achieves this is through satire, imitation, and speculation. Other times, though, it is the art itself that is subject to ridicule, functioning less as a display of current cultural trends and instead revealing today’s innovations – those with the inevitable possibility of altering our future.

Whether such a future would be accepted by the majority remains in conflict. The controversial works I speak of are not topiaries or living wall art, but those most often classified as bio-art, in which the tissue of humans, animals, bacteria, and living organisms is altered for the sake of art and scientific experimentation.

Well known examples of bio-art or sci-art, are glowing rabbits and bacteria proteins that have been altered to appear in luminous, neon colors. Bio-art has produced intriguing displays in plant-life and bacteria, of this there is no question. However, when applying biomedical techniques to living beings of consciousness, things quickly get tricky. This of course brings about several moral and ethical implications, with many opponents viewing biological art as a form of mutation. Much as you would hear from those opposed to the genetic modification of food.

Other arguments, reminiscent of those regarding stem cell research, have created a divide in those that view it as a breach in the rights of animals to alter their genetic makeup from those who disregard animal rights or emotions.
Though the same divide can stem from drug trials wherein medicine is tested on animals, who are unable to consent or flee from treatment.

Rather than attempting to resolve the article with claims to one side’s merits over the other, I’d like to ask you, the reader, what your view is of biological alteration in the application of art? Please, share your knowledge and opinions in the comments.

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