Hybrid Art

Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions

Drosophila titanus

Andy Gracie (GB)


Drosophila titanus is an ongoing and long-term project which through a process of experimentation and artificial selection aims to breed a species of the fruit fly, drosophila, that would theoretically be capable of living on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. While being a virtually impossible project to complete “successfully”, Drosophila titanus sites itself as a process within the ongoing discourse surrounding the complex relationships between art and science. By necessity the project needs to adhere to a rigorous scientific methodology and framework, however it endeavors to extract artistic metaphor, poetry and ambiguity from these apparent creative restrictions. The work embraces several interwoven narratives and concepts related to issues of species, artificially created organisms and the disquieting quest for biological perfection. Inherent in its discussion are darker issues such as Social Darwinism and its ultimate expression in eugenics. This search for biological perfection and the notion of the ideal genome are heavily implicated in the practice of artificial selection.

Employing Drosophila melanogaster and Titan as metaphors for the human and Earth respectively, Drosophila titanus embraces the methodologies of experimentation, simulation and artificial selection to explore themes of species, biological perfection, perception and future life. Beyond the exploration of biological and evolutionary issues the project engages with biosemiotics in questioning the nature of reality and organic perception of environmental sensory signals.

The work adopts the format of experiment as artistic investigation. Drosophila titanus uses the process of artificial selection on one original stock of Drosophila melanogaster with the vestigial wing phenotypical mutation. Through experiments replicating increased pressure, increasingly cold temperatures, atmospheric gas changes, circadian rhythms and so on, individual flies are selected for breeding the next generations. Thus over many generations the project specimens are pushed slowly towards adaptation and selective pressures and towards a possible speciation event. Perceived artificial stimuli allow the flies to become increasingly acclimatized to a set of environmental conditions alien to their “natural” domain. References to simulation theory, the notion of reality and biosemiotics are therefore implied.

Close to the heart of the project experiment is the study of the relationship between genotype and phenotype, a relationship which is increasingly seen as being at the core of evolutionary biology. The complex relationships between genome and environment and how they become physically expressed as an organism seeks to adapt and survive form much of the scientific foundation of the ongoing exploration within this work.

It is estimated that the project will require another 200 or 300 years to reach “completion.”


Andy Gracie

Andy Gracie (UK/ES) works across various disciplines including installation, robotics, sound, video and biological practice. Recently his work has involved studies and reactions to the science of astrobiology; notions of the origins of life coupled with a re-examination of its boundaries. His practice employs scientific theory and practice to question our relationships with environment and the notion of the “other” while simultaneously bringing into focus the very relationship between art and science. His work has been shown internationally and has included special commissions for new works.