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George Gessert is an artist whose work focuses on the overlap between art and genetics. His exhibits often involve plants he has hybridized or documentation of . George Gessert has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MA in fine art from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. From to the present. George Gessert THEIR SILENCE IS A GIFT Interview by Arjen Mulder The question of beauty is a natural one for breeders of ornamental plants and flowers for.

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He is currently Leonardo’s editorial advisor on art and biology. We can apply this knowledge to biotechnology. The bio art that interests me explores the question: Since plant breeding requires growing plants from seed, over time I get to know many things about the lives and life cycles of the plants I work with. All of this made my shift from paint to plants a small step.

Bioart through evolution: George Gessert

Most breeders have other aims. Through diverse kinds of expression, we may develop new ways of seeing nonhuman life and come to better understand our relationship with it. But what is so ridiculous about it?

Many of their forms of reproduction seem beyond bizarre. In one memory, flowers are frightening. In these memories, flowers are magical things that draw me to them. I had promised flowers, but presented instead a not very interesting mass of seed pods and grassy leaves.

In this publication Gessert examines the role that aesthetic perception has played in bio art and other interventions in evolution. Even as late as the s, shows that included works with live plants were gessedt rare. I seek flowers that look like whatever it is that they are, which of course is unknowable.

Still other plants provide other kinds of aesthetic experiences.

Plant breeding is a lot of work, so I had to ask myself: But the question drew me into considering how complex our relationships are with other species and how other forms of life can sometimes benefit from the human desire for aesthetic pleasure. How do you know how to get the effects you hope to create?


One translucent envelope contains “Seeds to Sow in Wilderness”; another package shows images of beautiful blooming Pacific Coast Native Irises and claims to contain “Hybrids by Insects, Gessert, and Wind”.

I became fascinated by how ink spots grow on unprepared papers. The role of the artist is to have one foot in the culture and one foot out. The prospect of death is part of what drives consciousness and makes us the beings we are.

Toward an Art of Evolution, you describe how handbooks for plant show judges and officials give very precise criteria for what the breeder community apparently considers to be beautiful plants.

interview with George Gessert, bio-artists, on plants | Arjen Mulder –

Toward an Art of Evolution MIT Pressa book about bio art, covering subjects such as exhibiting flowers as fine art and art using plants, animals, bacteria, slime molds and fungi. This page was last edited on 18 Decemberat Actually, very little of life is humanly ordered.

This view, by the way, is also shared by Buddhists, Taoists, and many Native Americans, among others. As a result many highly bred plants have come to look alike: They make animal life possible.

Genetic art has a long and fascinating history that might well inform current discourse about biotechnology. In that sense, plants appear to be anti-sublime.

What are you looking for when you grow plants: Later I learned that plants have great powers. But other approaches to breeding are possible, at least if one sees breeding as an art. In it, he examines the role aesthetic perception has played in bio art and other interventions in evolution.

But when you grow and hybridize plants for your bio art projects, you don’t seem to be aiming for the sort of shocking, overwhelming, awe-inspiring effects I associate with the sublime in the arts. Beyond scientific definitions of Homo sapiens, I’m not sure what it means to be human.


I just guess, and when that proves wrong I have to start over again. Beauty and terror meet in the sublime. Gessert began his career as a painter and printmaker, and began breeding plants as an art form in the late s. The notion of creating a dog that fluoresces is far from conceptually outrageous.

Kac is deeply critical of directions that biotechnology has taken, but he does not slip into the ancient, destructive dualism that construes human works and nature as opposed and unhappily informs most discussions about biotechnology today. After all, we’re part of it, too. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.

Towards an art of Evolution. We’re connected, even though we may not feel that we are.

Gessert, George 1944-

Since the late s I have been breeding plants, concentrating on the native irises of California and Oregon. For this he deserves high praise. At this point in history, with the help of Darwin and those who have built on his work, we don’t have to exercise much imagination to see our affinities with animals.

Today bio fessert is still widely considered somewhat adventurous, yet Jeff Koons, whose work encapsulates dominant values of consumer culture, uses live plants in installations. In turn, we gessert selected plants and protect them from predators.

Just as we reached the edge of the garden, Aunt Crescents announced, “There’s a skunk here! Hybrid Hybridizedfirst bloom And is your bio art meant to fulfill them?