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Biomedicine in museums

Want an arteficial pet with feelings? Which doesn't scream too loud when in pain? Try the Genpet!

The Bio-Genica company website is worth an extended visit:

It’s brilliant, hilarious — and somewhat scary. Artist Adam Brandejs has constructed the perfect biotech company website look-alike, complete with product catalogue, service & support pages, etc.

The company’s major product is the Genpet, a “pre-packaged, bioengineered pet”, not a toy or a robot, but a “living, breathing” genetically engineered animal with “fully functional heart rate monitor and Fresh Strip to better gauge the state of each pet while it lies in its hibernation state”. It has in-built feelings, of course.

The FAQs-page tells prospective customers that the little creatures breathe and shit and form strong personal bonds with their care-taker. They surely feel pain, but “have limited vocal chords so they will not create a large amount of noise when disturbed”. A Genpet will normally not bite, but if it does, one can buy a extra Tooth Remover Kit.

Adam Brandejs Genpet raises lots of disturbing questions about the future of biotechnology. It’s one of the most humorous and intelligent artistic comments to postgenomics I’ve seen for a long time — neither naïvely endorsing biotech development, nor against its future possibilites.

By the way, Genpets come in two basic versions, one with a one-year life span, the other with a three-year life span (with different price tags, of course) — an oblique commentary to the Nexus 6 generation of replicants in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (who had a four-year life span).

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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