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Scientist Artist – Eduardo Kac

July 12, 2008

Those of you who know him will understand perfectly why I choose this topic to start writing on this blog. In 80s, Eduardo Kac was pioneer in Telepresence Art and now he is worldwide known for his visionary concepts about interactive communication. He has done a great amount of projects exhibited in many museums from all the world. But we’ll start from the beginning:

His first work was “Alba“, a white rabbit genetically modified for glowing in the dark. As everybody could expect, the GPF mutant-bunny raised a noisy controversy, and nowadays Alba is locked in a cage in the Agronomic Research Institute of France. Ironic shame.

Could you imagine for a second a lot of shinny rabbits jumping in the woods? not even in your best dreams, well, we’ll live without it.

Anyway, Kac has continued developing a long list of polemical projects, and their impact on public opinion has been almost always relevant. Just need to remember in 1997 he became the first person who implanted a microchip (identification transponder tag) inside his own body. The project was called “Time capsule” and after the microchip was placed inside the artist’s ankle, it was webscanned and registered, via the Web, in the animal identification database. Of course, the experience took place inside the gallery, so it became simultaneously an artistic discourse. The installation was previously thought and designed by the artist. On the left of the room there were seven sepia-toned photographs about his past. On the right, the X-ray and an enlargement of the identification and recovery database interface. Next to the back wall was the computer wired to the Net and hooked up to the telerobotic finger, which wasleft pressing the scanner. The scanner’s LCD display was left showing the number retrieved from the artist’s ankle.

But this two projects can’t define Eduardo Kac, his interest is so dynamic and he has worked in too many fields, Bio-Art, holopoetry, performance, telecommunications… Since he discovered computing he start working on communication, interactivity and robotics, creating a new concept of art: the telepresence.

He proses the computers and Internet allow us to create works for this specific environment, works that otherwise couldn’t exist.

In 1994 he developed “Teleporting an Unknown State“, a project based on a live demo, developed by a cooperative system via Internet. The experience consisted in an artistic installation of a seed plant placed on a pedestal in a dark room, entirely light-feeded by a video projector suspended above and facing the pedestal. People from all the world sent images of the sun via Internet and they were projected to feed the vegetable. Also he installed a webcam to allow the participants to observe the process of the plant growing.

Those are just some works of the Brazilian artist, I hope this article will motivate the readers to search more information about him and follow his new projects and exhibitions. For more information: http://www.ekac.org/

There are also some interviews on youtube, but most of them are in portugese (it would be nice if a day, a generous portugese speaker subtitles and publish them again… well, for the moment we have to make do with it)

Thanks for reading,

BR.

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