actiniae

Dmitry Bulatov

Senses Alert (AKA “Consciousness on Guard”) 2000 - 2004
Transgenic tadpoles that glowed with genes from bioluminescent sea animals were created as a living artwork. Dmitry Bulatov, worked with a group of specialists from the D. Ivanovsky Institute of Virusology of the Academy of Sciences, to develop this chimeric organism based on aesthetic properties. After comparing the phosphorescing qualities of bacteria, jellyfish, and corals, the team decided to use the light-generating genes of the Pacifica actinia Anemonia Sulcata. These green-fluorescent protein (GFP) genes generated both red and green colors, which were microinjected into the genome of an aquatic frog (Xenopus laevis). The team was able to create tadpoles that glowed red and green, with one half of their bodies red and the other green. These new qualities were passed on to their offspring for several generations. However after about the fourth generation, the fluorescent qualities were lost and numerous developmental deviations and side effects were observed. In the words of the artist: “In 2004, our research group came to the conclusion that further experiments in artificially creating living objects with pre-designed esthetic properties were not feasible. The directors of the project decreed that all the organisms, which have undergone genetic manipulations, should remain within the experimental and exhibition area and by no means they should be allowed to penetrate the outside world.”