Friday, December 12, 2008

Bonsai kitten 2.0

Leer "mas gatos embotellados".

Several years ago a web page called "bonsai kitten" created some controversy. They explained, with pictures, how to grown cats inside a bottle as a very twisted decoration handicraft. It was a hoax with the intended propose of offense. The bonsai kitten where a reasonable good Photoshop work (or GIMP, if you use free software).

Recently three different friends have send me a link to genpets. A kind of 2.0 version of the cats in the bottle. They are not cats, but genetically engineered "beens," conveniently packet. There is another big difference: they are real and sold by a reasonable price of USD $1200. According to the genpets website they are sold in hibernation state, and you can see them slowly breathing inside the package. After cutting the transparent PVC packing you can take them out, wake them up and play with them. They are designed to be docile and children safe.

Unfortunately they are just toys, made of silicon rubber, latex and some robotics to mimic the breathing movement. Currently they are at exposition in several art galleries around the world. Visiting the artist's web page you can read the whys and hows of his creatures.

It is interesting, however, the strong reaction about the genpets displayed by the people that send me the news about them. They are horrified by the fact that somebody would modify a living creature and make a toy of it, some others also mention god and say that only him can create life. None of them took the time to google it and find another source of information.

To be honest, I was also shocked the first time I saw them. I tought that they were awfully ugly, and that packing them was too cruel. But thinkg about it a little more, the idea doesn't sound that terrifying. It is not the first time we modify animals genetically to use them as toys, and you can see the results in the next picture:

Todt piccino, originalmente cargada por luca.candini.

Of course we have played with modified wolves for years. During the last 10.000 years (may be more) humans have selectively breed wolves until they became something different. We have made them docile, more useful, cuter and everything we have wanted. Genetic engineering is only a step forward. Before we had to throw the seeds away and see how many grew, now we can get a plant from every single seed. Before we mixed genes, and saw what happened. Now we can foreseen the changes, and do the exact modification we want.

After all, it is a good idea to push things out of the limits, raise new questions, new concerns and see what happens. Don't you think so?

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