Target Deception 2007
Target Deception was a public experiment based on the San Francisco experiments for the US germ warfare program in the 1950s. CAE deployed Human Guinea Pigs around the American consulate to act as human sensors. Bacillus subtilis was launched from a mile away at the City Hall tower. The human sensors were scraped for samples which tested at local lab. Traces of the subtilis were not found, and the experiment was considered a failure.

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Marching Plague 2005-07

Marching Plague was an exploration into the historical failure of germ warfare programs around the world from the point of view of both military and scientific logic, and questioned why the US continues to expand its program in spite of its demonstrated failure. This project took many forms including video, installation, and performance.

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Free Range Grain 2003-04. CAE, Beatriz da Costa, and Shyh-shiun Shyu.

Free Range Grain was a live, performative action that used basic molecular biology techniques to test for genetically modified (GM) food in the global food trade. CAE wanted this interventionist performance to demonstrate how the "smooth space" of global trade enables the very "contaminations" the authorities say it guards against. CAE/da Costa/Shyu constructed a portable, public lab to test foods for common genetic modifications. Members of the public brought us foods that they found suspect for whatever reason, and we tested them over a 72-hour period to see if their suspicions were justified.

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Molecular Invasion 2002-04. CAE, Beatriz da Costa, and Claire Pentecost.

Molecular Invasion was a participatory science-theater work done in cooperation with students from the Corcoran School of Art and Design and exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC. In this work, CAE/da Costa/Pentecost and selected students attempted to reverse-engineer genetically modified canola, corn, and soy plants through the use of environmentally friendly, nontoxic chemical disrupters. In this theater of live public experimentation, we attempted to transform artificial biological traits of adaptability into ones of susceptibility, as well as to establish a model for contestational biology.

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GenTerra 2001-03. Critical Art Ensemble and Beatriz da Costa.

Performed at the Natural History Museum, London; Gallery Oldham, Manchester; St. Norbert Art & Cultural Center, Winnipeg, and Le Magasin, Centre National d'Art Contemporain, Grenoble. GenTerra was a live exploration of the variety of discourses on transgenics in relation to environmental risk and human health policy. Participants manipulated transgenic bacteria in an effort to develop a more nuanced understanding of risk assessment regarding the uses of recombinant DNA.

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Cult of the New Eve, 1999-2000. CAE, Paul Vanouse, and Faith Wilding.

This project examined the appropriation of Christian promissory rhetoric by industry and scientific specialists in order to persuade the public of the utopian nature of new biotechnology. CAE/Vanouse/Wilding moved this rhetoric from the context of the most legitimate and authoritative socio-economic constellations, and placed it in the context of the least legitimate of all social constellations—a cult—in order to give the public a new perception of this peculiar strain of social representation. In addition to Toulouse, Cult of the New Eve was performed at St. Clara Hospital, Rotterdam; Steirischer Herbst at ESC Gallery, Graz; the Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; and the World Information Organization at Brussels 2000.

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Intelligent Sperm On-line 1999

This performance was designed for universities that have donor scouts looking for “custom” product for their fertility clinics. It performs the aims and methods of the current eugenic meat market. In this action a CAE member functions as a representative of a fertility clinic (BioCom). Live on screen via the Internet is a “customer” who is interested in finding a sperm donor. The representative gives his pitch (using the language of eugenics) as to why the young university students should donate to the clinic and how much money they could make. In the audience is a confederate who volunteers to make a donation. The customer looks him over and gives an OK, generally to the horror of the audience. The performance ends as they go off to sign a contract.


The Society for Reproductive Anachronisms, 1999-2000

Performed at Expo Destructo, London, and Rutgers University. CAE created the Society for Reproductive Anachronisms (SRA) in order to have an inexpensive, highly mobile means to speak to the issues raised in Flesh Machine. This performative counterfeit consisted of a group of activists who spoke to people about the dangers of medical intervention in the reproductive process.

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Flesh Machine, 1997-98

This live performative project attempted to simulate bio-class divisions in the flesh economy. By live testing the suitability of participants to pass on their genes through a “donor program", CAE revealed the latent residue of eugenics in the fertility market. This performance also brought the scientific processes of reproductive technology into the public domain.

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