Artists work with a wide variety of living things including plants, animals, bacteria, slime molds, and fungi. Commentators have discussed the social and political implications of making art out of living things. In Green Light, George Gessert examines the role that aesthetic preferences have played in bio art and in plant and animal breeding.
The primary focus of the book is on plants because they have been crucial to Gessert’s work as an artist, and because more different kinds of plants have been domesticated than any other form of life. In addition, aesthetic experimentation tends to go much farther with plants than with animals. Gessert’s book takes the reader on a biological and aesthetic journey that includes Chinese gardens designed to trap spirits and gain the secret of immortality, chickens bred to have tail feathers thirty feet long, and Aztec pleasure gardens cultivated for intoxicating fragrances. Along the way we encounter the rise and fall of eugenics, kitsch organisms, monsters, contempt for highly bred organisms, and how genetic engineering may change ornamentals. Gessert surveys contemporary bio art and discusses what artists can do with plant hybridization that plant breeders have not done.
Gessert surveys contemporary bio art creating a dazzling landscape and discusses the possibilities of what artists can do with plants that plant breeders have not done. He presents the reader with a new work in which by genetically changing life, it has to be taken in to account all that we know about ecology, aesthetics, history, and ourselves.
Posted by: Ozden Sahin (LEA Co-editor and Curator)