Week 6/Biotechnology/ Tammy Le

With the ever progressing advancement of technology and research, it is of no suprise that biotechnology has taken such a prominent presence in todays world in not only science, but art.  The controversey behind modifying biological factors and challenging the laws of nature through human manipulation is completely understandable, and both sides have strong evidence for their case.  Those against biotechnology fear the consequences that may arise from modifying the natural order of biological matter.  To borrow a line from the Spiderman movie, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Now that we possess such great knowledge and skills, we have a newfound gift and power in which we must be cautious of how we use, especially since we are weary of the long term effects of many biotechnological processes.  On the contrary to those opposed to biotechnology, those for it argue in support of the benefits it brings to mankind.  It has allowed for developments such as the genetic modification of food that can help malnourished people, such as the golden rice that provides beta-cerotene for those who lack it their diet due to unavailability or resources, and has also opened a new pathway to medical developments that have helped save the lives of millions of people.  Regardless of your stance, however, it is difficult to deny that biotechnology has changed the world and will only continue to progress and advance into the future.

While researching for this week’s topic, I stumbled upon a information on the work of Hunter Cole, who has recently changed her name from Hunter O’ Reilly (to make it easier for those who may be interested in researching her), a geneticist and biotech artist.  She incorporates elements from her background in genetics with her craftsmanship in art in order to convey her support for biotechnology.  Many of her pieces aim to inform observers, or at least give them a glance, at how biotechnology effects the our lives.  One of her pieces that caught my attention, A Few Cells Create a Kidney and a New Life: Portrait of Shauna Anderson, encompasses her artistic work and message of the positive results of biotechnology by illustrating a personal story of a woman who’s life may be saved through stem cell research.

Shauna Anderson was born with normal kidney function, but progressively developed kidney problems since childhood.  Throughout her life she has had to endure an array of different biotechnological procedures that have kept her alive.  Despite her efforts, and the efforts of her doctors however, her attempts have fallen short and the next best option she has may cause her to rely on the development of cloned stem cells in order to help her lead a normal life. 

  Details, such as the bracelet of stretococci around her wrist pictured here, highlight the importance that biotechnological research has played in preserving her life and sends a powerful message of hope that lies within future biotech developments that have the potential to bring her back to a healthy life.  Cole also integrates images like a cross section of a lung and the Cytomegolovirus  to further project the powerful impact biotechnology has had on Shauna’s life.  Artists like Hunter Cole not only showcase how art and science can be harmonously combined to create a masterpiece, but also underscores how science can play a vital role in human lives.


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