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Evolution of the Subject

Gallery North Project Space, Northumbria University

April 16-17, 2018

Evolution of the Subject is an exhibition of experimental research undertaken at the Institute of Genetic Medicine in Newcastle as part of Louise Mackenzie's practice-led fine art thesis, Evolution of the Subject - Synthetic Biology in Fine Art Practice.


In the context of the laboratory, attempts to experience the materiality of the organism are translated through several layers of technological apparatus and coded representation, distancing life from the actions taken upon it.  In the performative act of anthropomorphising the organism, Mackenzie draws a closer connection to the lively materiality of the organism and in doing so, develops a subjective approach to working with life that begins to confront issues of care and control. 


The research follows a thought from the mind of the artist into the body of a genetically modified organism, the laboratory workhorse, E. coli. The work includes Lively Material, a single channel video that traces the artist's relationship to the living organism in the laboratory; BioAssemblage #1, synthetic DNA designed by the artist to hold the phrase, “What will happen if I store this thought safe within you?”; Pithos ConsTrained (2018), a glass vessel of live genetically modified E. coli that contain the phrase encoded as DNA within their bodies and Pithos (2016), an 8-channel sound installation that speculates on potential mutations of the phrase within the constantly multiplying community of living organisms. Additional research works-in-progress: Genophone, a mechanism for translating thought to DNA, Zone of Inhibition, an early film-based outcome of Transformation, Mackenzie’s public genetic modification workshops and Bioartefactuality, speculative objects for use in performative relations with laboratory organisms are also shown.

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