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    Ge-gnomes
by Charlie Finch
 
     
 
Genome map or colorfield?
 
Mars,
by NASA
 
Inka Essenhigh
Born Again
1999-2000
at Victoria Miro
 
Dinos and Jake Chapman
Miss Many Fanny
1997
 
Karin Sander
Self-Portrait
(detail)
2000
at D'Amelio Terras
 
The mechanical mapping of the human genome by a private company has been transmitted to the general public as a series of colors resembling Ellsworth Kelly's famous color studies at the Metropolitan Museum.

NASA adds a cadmium orange wash to its satellite photos of purported water erosion on the surface of Mars.

Every day, in exponentially increasing momentum, Scienceworld seeks to concretize its discoveries to a dumbed-down public through the medium of abstraction.

The esthetic function of popular science turns one's view of contemporary art on its head: suddenly the formal represents the real scientifically, whilst the representational is a chimera.

Science's march to control the very small gives us, the living, a sense that we exist in a kind of prehistory to a Frankenstein future -- which most of us won't be around to experience anyway.

But while we are here, a brave new perspective impregnates the art around us:

The buffed and waxed mutants in an Inka Essenhigh painting threaten us with their indeterminacy.

The bodacious babes of John Currin speak of chemical attraction, the mechanical lust of the honeybee and all the molecules bubbling underneath.

The sequences of cybertext pulminating through Kiki Seror's diode screens emanate from letters in our very chromosomes!

Among other things, scientists are crosshatching spider genes into goats to create "real synthetic wool," and of course, "harvesting" organs and cloning pies, cows, sheep -- folks, there's nothing grotesque about Dinos and Jake Chapman; they're just showing us future reality, and the future is now.

Tired old farts like Michael Kimmelman, Peter Schjeldahl and Mark Stevens continually lament that there's not enough interesting art around at the moment to stir their diminishing mojos.

Au contraire, fellas, June is bustin' out all over. Tom Friedman, Karin Sander, Roxy Paine and Charles Ledray have all applied painstaking scientific methodology to challenging, elaborate pieces that are technical and philosophical equals to any art of any time.

Tony Oursler and Pipilotti Rist bravely anticipate what our world will look like 10 or 20 years hence: life in a movie theater lived on a screen.

Comparatively, a self-portrait of Mapplethorpe jerking off or Cindy Sherman mugging for Hollywood are poignant shards of nostalgia for the fragile human past. Distinctions of body, gender and sex disappear when science is all.

The artists of the third millennium have the daunting task of creating souls for these new machines. So far, they are more than up to it.


CHARLIE FINCH is coauthor of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula.

 
 
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