Towards Genetic departure,
unify yet diversify,
make and unmake,
Muddle and tangle
Researcher: Jacqueline Beaumont, BFA student, Fibres and Material Practices
Project scope: Biopolymers make up the structural world around us, yet they all come from a fractional divergence in genetic material. These fractional differences are what tell soft fruit from tooth, flesh from bark, hyphae from hair. Having Perfectly adapted to their environment through eons of divergence from one another, organisms present us an infinite matrix of possibilities ranging from blood type to gender expression. The rich materiality of this place is only possible because of genetics and biodiversity. To think that we are the descendants of the same ancestor marking back 4.5 billion years, makes me acutely aware of the power and strength within diversity, and how this bond we share marks something that transcends past gender, race, species, flesh and form.
This lush and expansive sensuality, allows for genetic material to be swapped, spit and stirred together into an infinite number of combinations. Many of these organisms have developed modes of fertility without a womb. Queering our notion of biological “fertility” can allow for many new and unimagined kinships. Making kin is essential to adapting to the critical position our world resides in today. As Donna Haraway will say repeatedly, “Make Kin Not Babies.” and I aim to do just that.
Luca is better known as our “last universal common ancestor”. This distant and unifying relative marks billions of years of growth and evolution. Slow, muddy, trial and error, ebb and flow, birth and decay. This project is a “love letter” to them, thanking them for their sacrifice, undying love and “fire in our loins”.
Project parts: The first is a tank of cellulose, this culture has been genetically modified to grow clear. Its body is being scanned by a red light, invoking the gaze of a suiter searching for its perfect mate. This skin grown by billions of bacteria and yeast, in a glorious writhing of fermentation, ask, why are we separate from this dance you call desire? The tank will be cradled in the soft embrace of four ecovative mycelium packaging corners. This caring and tender swaddling of the tank not only extends the idea of interspecies modes of care, but extends itself out-wards to the global climatic disaster and the horrifying plastic problem our species has plagued upon this world.
Another tank will be found to contain a life cast of my breasts in agarose bioplastic floating in a tank of saline. I’m using my breasts to call upon the notations of fertility as indicated by society. As a trans body I am seen as not as valuable reproductively and therefore have less value as a mammal. By engaging with this connotation,we can begin questioning our perception of fertility under the premise of queer/trans based kinships and ideaoligies. I chose saline in relation to how our bodies are comprised of nearly the same percentile of saltwater as the earth’s oceans systems. Salt has been used in ritual practices as a purification medium, as well as a preservative for flesh, for thousands of years. Many indigineous people around the world have called the ocean “the womb” of mother earth. As much as I believe in queering the body of this planet, I do have to acknowledge that its tides move in cycles with the moon, which can be mirrored in the menstrual cycles of mammals, and the migration patterns of aquatic life. Some say that our luca was conceived in the ocean and eventually spilled beyond its bounds.
The third object is a film displayed on a large format flat screen tv, the film consists of hours of microscope footage of plant, animal, bacterial, fungal and human bodies. The film has been overlapped with one another, sparking new and exciting combinations as time passes, the ambiguity of the origin of these images and movements leaves the viewer unaware of what they are viewing but transfixed to see what it will meet next.
The final component is a sound piece in collaboration with Hakeem Lapointe. The space will allow the viewer to bathe in the laping sonics of ancient and primordial mating calls spanning from birds to whales, tectonic plates to buzzing cicadas all marinating in the dampened song of silence, reverberating through the fleshy innards of eons gone by. I found sound to be very important for the piece in order to give it a heartbeat, and to illustrate the rhythmic and gyrating behavior of sensuality.