GenTerra is a performance by Critical Art Ensemble and Beatriz da Costa. GenTerra is the name of a fictitious company dealing with „transgenics” – the isolation of one or more genes from one or more organisms to create another, new organism. Products created through this process – for example, transgenically modified foods – have often caused controversy. GenTerra claims to produce organisms that help solve ecological or social problems.
GenTerra is essentially participatory theatre. On entering the space, the public is invited to discuss the facts and issues surrounding transgenics with the artists and scientists, who are dressed in white lab coats. Materials are provided to allow people to make and store their own transgenic bacteria. Visitors become actively involved in the area of risk assessment.
By setting itself up as a corporation driven by profit but also by a sense of social responsibility, Critical Art Ensemble’s Genterra highlights the complex relationship between for-profit ventures and the ethical considerations involved in transgenics research and product development. The project aims to make the general public more aware of transgenics, and the facts and fictions that surround it.
GenTerra was created in consultation with Dr. Bob Ferrell, Department of Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, and Linda Kauffman, Department of Molecular Biology, the Mellon Institute, along with Beatriz da Costa, Robotic Art Researcher, Carnegie Mellon University, Semi Ryu and Garth Zeglin, Robotics Consultants, Carnegie Mellon University.
Presented in the UK by The Arts Catalyst at:
GALLERY OLDHAM, Oldham, Greater Manchester, UK
5 October 2002
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, Cromwell Road, London SW7, UK
20 – 21 June 2003
The film was made at the performance at Gallery Oldham.