We’re a xenophobic race. Human’s not only can’t seem to get along with each other when there is differences in skin color but we even differentiate over such minor things as hair styles. What are we going to do when the accelerating trend in technology begins to transform the “natural” into salable artifacts? Already there have been attempts to patent gene sets from humans that thought they were participating only in medical research. The evolution of monsters is the next step. Human clones would look and act like us but we’ve already explored how wrong that can go in Blade Runner and the Boys from Brazil. The very first work of science fiction ever is Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein in which body parts are assembled to create a subhuman creature. It is different, gather your pitchforks and torches we’re going to visit the studios of Patricia Piccinini. (Warning no nudity but maybe NSFW)

Patricia Piccinini is an Australian artist, what is called a  hyperrealist. In 2003 her work was selected to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale. There’s a definite  yuck factor to Piccinini’s work. She’s definitely interested in giving Frankenstein a human face so we get little children cuddled up next to creatures that would make most adults retch.  Piccinini herself is ambivalent as she throws these emotional questions about bioengineering at us. Each of the creatures has a life of it’s own and the capacity to receive and give love but should those kids be exposed to them? Should we love them if they have a liver that will keep an actual human alive? The yuck factor, also known as the Wisdom of repugnance, evolved to protect humanity through feelings of disgust. Is it rational to struggle against that or noble?

Jackie Randles summarizes the ethical and emotional content of Piccinini’s work as follows: “By giving her creatures subjectivity and physical features that are recognizably human, Patricia creates emotionally charged scenes that represent familial love, nurturing and caring. In response, a viewer might reflect upon hope: the love of a mother for her sick child, the longing for a cure and the desire for a medical solution, no matter how strange or unnatural it may seem. When the life of one’s own family is at stake, does this becomes more important than any adverse impact a bioengineered solution may have on the natural world?