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HARVEST


All rights reserved Š Natalie Nicolaides, 2019. Publication based on a concept by Tina Gorjanc. First Edition printed in August 2019 at the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, United Kingdom, on recycled paper. No parts of this publication may be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the permission of the artist and author. Design Illustrations Proofreading

Lisa Lorenz | www.fraulorenz.com Dionne Kitching | hello@dionnekitching.co.uk George Odysseos

This publication was developed while undertaking, and as a final submission for, the MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) programme delivered by the University of Glasgow and the Glasgow School of Art.


HARVEST EDITED BY NATALIE NICOLAIDES

TUSK PUBLICATIONS 2019


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Illustration from Artist’s Sketchbook 1, Tina Gorjanc © 2019

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“The distanceless prevails.”

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Martin Heidegger 1

Heidegger, M. and Hofstadter, A. (1971). Poetry, language, thought. New York: Harper & Row.

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Acknowledgement I would like to thank all the contributors: Francis McKee, Director of the CCA Glasgow; Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez, Head of Bioengineering at the University of Glasgow; and Maura Reilly, Zoology Curator at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. A special thank you to my tutors and course convenors Monica Laiseca, Glasgow School of Art, and Dr Alexandra Ross, University of Glasgow; mentor Viviana Checcia, Public Engagement Curator at the CCA Glasgow and my family and friends for their constant support. Finally, huge thank you to John Thorne of GSA Sustainability and fellow Hive Sustainable Curatorial Collective members, without whom this publication would not have been financially possible.

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Contents 2 9 11

Editorial Acknowledgement Contents

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Project Abstract Introduction

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Foreword/Harvesting & Nearness by Natalie Nicolaides

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Correspondence Natalie Nicolaides and Tina Gorjanc

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Project Proposal & Milestones by Tina Gorjanc

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Correspondence Continued Natalie Nicolaides and Tina Gorjanc

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Conversations with Francis McKee, Director CCA Glasgow

Maggie Reilly, Zoology Curator Hunterian

Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez, Head of Bioengineering, University of Glasgow

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Animal Conservation as Bio-Luxury by Tina Gorjanc 11


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Project Abstract Harvest is a publication compiled by curator Natalie Nicolaides that provides a live response to the practice of London-based artist Tina Gorjanc, as she develops a new bioengineering project that will see her harvesting animal cells to grow rhino horns and elephant tusks for circulation in the black market and look at the lexicon that surrounds this task. The publication depicts the unfolding relationship between the artist and the curator. This relationship is presented as a chronological time lapse of how ethical pillars are negotiated by both, as they encounter the many ethical issues raised by the project. Gorjanc’s work is unpacked and further contextualised through conversations conducted by Nicolaides with collectors, curators and bioengineers as they try to gauge both its feasibility and ethical positioning as well as map out a blueprint for the project. Together, artist and curator move towards trying to conceive a new future free from illegal animal poaching.Â

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Introduction Before you read on into this book, I thought it would be necessary to explain the publication behind the title Harvest. As a collaborative project, Harvest is a publication that stands in the moment in time in which it was written, which is to say that it offers no conclusions and, instead, is and only will be relevant for about ten seconds after it has been printed. The project will, and has, progressed outside the boundaries of the perfect binding it now finds itself in, as you hold the book in your hands, and it is this element which I find the most exciting. The layout for Harvest was inspired by the graphic novel Watchmen, published by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons between 1986-19872. The novel predominantly mixed newspaper clippings and interviews, with a fictional comic book strip alongside the main storyline to fill in the spaces of the narrative. In the spirit of that novel, Harvest will be layered with snippets of conversation, which have been transcribed; email correspondence; illustrations and occasionally a note from either myself or artist Tina Gorjanc with the main storyline here being the conversations between Gorjanc and I as Tina looks to producing a rhino horn and query the biological stucture of elephant tusks. 2

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Moore, A. and Gibbons, D. (1987). Watchmen. [United States]: DC Comics.


The curators’ essay, that follows after this section, playfully attempts to bring the audience closer to the subject matter, while simultaneously pushing them further away from it. The essay also gives a broader context as to why I chose this subject and my curatorial approach throughout. [One final reference to Watchmen: you will probably find that my tone in the curators’ essay closely reflects the queer, lesser known character of Ursula Zandt - or otherwise known as The Silhouette, whose vigilante gaze was firmly fixed on the city’s child trafficking gang. She was stern with a very dark sense of humour]. Hooded Justice and Ursula Zandt 3

“We should avoid political situations.” ― “Perhaps the Poles thought so too, eh?” 3

Moore, A. and Gibbons, D. (1987). Íbid.

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Foreword Harvesting & Nearness by Natalie Nicolaides DISCERNING DISTANCE Towards the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, writer and curator Maura Reilly was causing a stir in the art world as she prepared to launch her Curatorial Activism book in April of 2018. Being an eager aspiring curator, I ordered it directly from the publishing house and received it almost as soon as it was released. It was a notorious and inspiring read that was not only informative but offered a strong female viewpoint on the art world, as well as provided a more historical framing of female curatorial practice. The book, as well as Reilly’s unapologetic tone, gave me a sense of worth as a woman trying to form a curatorial practice of my own and instilled the sense in me that my practice must make a difference.  Looking back at it now, I find that her call to arms, for curators across the arts to adopt a more responsive ethical approach and consider their position as activists, falls a little too short. While I agree with Reilly, that museums, galleries

Reilly, M. (2018). Curatorial Activism. Towards an Ethic of Curation. New York: Thames & Hudson. 4

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Foreword / Discerning Distance

and curators need to find it within themselves to allow for “non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual artists” 4, as well as Other artists, we must not ignore the overall picture of what is currently happening around us beyond the human, and look to the living creatures that we share the world with. By this, I am referring to the ongoing rampant extinction of animal species that surround us. In 2013, Timothy Morton coined the term ‘hyperobject’ in his book Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World 5. A hyperobject is an entity of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions that it defeats traditional ideas about what a thing is in the first place. In the book Morton uses the notion of the hyperobject with explicit reference to climate change. “Hyperobjects are here, right here in my social and experiential space. Like faces pressed against a window, they leer at me menacingly: their very nearness is what menaces.”5 Morton suggests that eventually when our eyes come into focus with hyperobjects and we can really see their magnitude they, “carry with them a trace of unreality” 5. This philosophical approach draws from Heidegger’s preoccupation with nearness. For Heidegger, nearness is a type of distance that is founded on appearance and visibility;

Morton, T. (2013). Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 5

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nearness is what makes a thing appear and distanceless is what makes the thing out-of-reach. Heidegger’s warning that the “Distanceless prevails”6 illustrates the illusive space that we have between a thing that is near – in front of our faces – and a thing that is metaphorically so far away from us, to such an extent that its existence is rendered abstract. An example similar to that used by Heidegger in his book Poetry, Language, Thought 6, can be seen in the following quote.

Imagine you are looking at a flat-top screw. That is all you are looking at, the top part of the screw. You then take a step back and see that the screw is fastened. You step back again and see that there are two parts that this screw is fastened to. You take another step back and see that the two things fastened by this screw are an upper leg and a lower leg. 6

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Heidegger, M. and Hofstadter, A. (1971). Íbid


Foreword / Discerning Distance

You take another step back and you see that the upper leg is attached to a hip bone with another screw. You step back again and see that the hip bone is attached to a torso. Again, you see that the torso is attached to the collar bone. And again, you see that the collar bone is attached to a neck. and again, the neck is attached to (for this example’s sake) an uncanny humanoid doll. This overwhelming feeling, that uncanny reveal, best describes what a / the hyperobject is and how it can be associated to events caused by our current climate emergency (i.e.: hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes).

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“Today everything present is equally near and equally far. The distanceless prevails. But no abridging or abolishing of distances brings nearness. What is nearness?� Martin Heidegger 6

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Iman Tajik, The United Convention 1951. 2015 Photograph, detail. Image courtesy of the artist

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NEARNESS FROM A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE A few years ago, Glasgow-based Iranian artist and photographer Iman Tajik, worked on a piece entitled, The United Convention 1951 (2015). This reworked photograph sees a few hundred dots of blue, pink and yellow either scatted or packed closely together. If the audience were too close to the image they would only see dots, but if they moved a few steps back, they would realise that it was a reworked picture of the image that made global headlines of the Death of Alan Kurdi, the three-year old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 when the boat he was in capsized. 

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Nearness / From A Local Perspective

The negotiation of distance and ethical urgency enacted in this artwork offers a glimpse into how Harvest came about. Adopting a local perspective on environmental concerns that have a global impact, through having conversations with those around me about Gorjanc’s proposal to bioengineer a rhino’s horn, as well as gathering research material locally in Glasgow, enabled me to see the project from different perspectives; in other words, gain nearness. This method has therefore given me clarity on the Heideggerian argument of nearness, thingliness and distanceless as well as Morton’s hyperobject theory and how to appropriate it to this project. Harvest, sees Tina and I trying to gain ground by looking at the bigger picture of animal extinction and pull our focus into one specific part that might then save a race, while valuing the knowledge and views gained locally. The conversations within Harvest, this compilation of information, acts as the first step as we ‘look at the flat-top screw’. The tone of the conversations to follow were kept casual and naturally as they occurred.

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Nearness

Iman Tajik, The United Convention 1951. 2015 Photograph. Image courtesy of the artist

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Illustration by Dionne Kitching Š 2019

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Harvesting / On Harvest

On Harvest According to the World Wildlife Funds’ advert on Instagram, fifty-five elephants are killed each day8. Once you enter the WWF homepage and search ‘rhino’, one discovers that the black rhino, Javan rhino and Sumatran rhino are critically endangered and, “the western black rhino and northern white rhinos have recently gone extinct in the wild”9. Yet, the only species of the rhino family that is categorised as ‘vulnerable’ is the Greater One Horned Rhino. There are of course, many other species of animals, plants, insects et al. that have also succumbed to this fate of extinction. These statistics motivated me to research why rhinos are so vulnerable. In the process, I came across a study looking at the illicit consumption of rhino horn10. The study took place across two areas of Vietnam – Hanoi and HCMC - as Vietnamese are considered the biggest consumers of rhino horn. The study included six-hundred and eight men and commences by illustrating the current situation around illicit wildlife trade: “Poaching and illicit trade in wildlife, which is worth around US$5-20 billion per annum, is considered the single most immediate threat

WWF. (2019). African Elephants. [online] https://www.wwf.org.uk/wildlife/african-elephants [Accessed 19 07 2019]. 9 World Wildlife Fund. (2019).  Rhino | Species | WWF. [online] https://www.worldwildlife.org/ species/rhino [Accessed 13 07 2019]; 8

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On Harvest

to many species, even greater than habitat loss, climate change, and environmental degradation”10 with rhino horn’s value going up to US$65,000 per kilogram in 2012. The study concludes that the people who are mostly investing in rhino horn are highly educated and typically seated in high ranking positions with disposable income, whose wives conduct the purchases. The horn itself is ground and either snorted or mixed with water to make a milky liquid. The reason for this consumption is suggested to be that, “by consuming and sharing rhino horn products within social clubs and networks, consumers create, and enjoy, a sense of “self” (individual identities), a sense of “us” (the feeling of belonging to a (status) “community”), as well as the delineation of the “other” (who do not belong to this “community”).” 10 The study also noted that there is a significant amount of fake rhino horn that consumers are cautious about obtaining, which is often, “made of buffalo or cow horns or even compressed hair and plastic.” 10 However, the irony,

V. Dao Truong, Nam V.H. Dang & C. Michael Hall (2016) The marketplace management of illegal elixirs: illicit consumption of rhino horn, Consumption Markets & Culture, 19:4, 353369, DOI: 10.1080/10253866.2015.1108915 [Accessed 23 Jul 2019]. 10

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which was also observed in the study, was that approximately 75% - 80% of the Vietnamese population in these areas are Buddhist who, “believe that violence towards animals, human beings, and the nature runs counter to the spirit of Buddhism and should thus be avoided.” 10 While Tina Gorjanc’s project is not completely novel in its physical manifestation, as an American-based company called Pembient11 is in the process of manufacturing synthetic horns for the commercial market and is set to be releasing the first batches in 2022; hers has always been a proposal beyond financial gain. Tina’s bio-engineered rhino horn, that has yet to be manufactured, will and already has caused a debate, even amongst the few people I have spoken to in Glasgow and Tina in London: conversations have been had that perhaps would not have been had otherwise. That is the power of art, which always drew me back to it: to make these conversations happen, to make us look closely at complex things and find different angles. Harvest was produced and compiled in such a way

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Pembient (2019). Pembient . [online]: https://www.pembient.com [Accessed 25 Jul. 2019].

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On Harvest

that it reflects its title. The aim was to use conversation as a methodology for collecting information and data. My curatorial role has largely focused on initiating and hosting these conversations, and I have found face to face contact to be the most useful. In the following entries, you will read about the people I have met and had conversations with. This includes Director of the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, Francis McKee, who is a well rounded connoisseur of art and the history of medicine. Also included is Maggie Reilly, the Zoology Curator at the Hunterian Museum based at the University of Glasgow, providing a specialist perspective on the collection and conservation of different animal species within museum culture. And Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez, the Head of the Bioengineering Department at the University of Glasgow, whose practice already sees his team creating bone tissue. Meeting with these persons is a reflection of the milestone list that Gorjanc had produced for her project shortly after we began collaborating, and the questions she was interested in exploring. These snippets of conversation piece together an exploration of whether the project will eventually be feasible, not only from a bio-engineering point of view, but also what it could mean for the future of the animal species and how it might affect consumers habits.•

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Illustration by Dionne Kitching Š 2019

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CORRESPONDENCE

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Correspondence

From: Nicolaides, Natalie Sent: 30 April 2019 11:32 To: Tina Gorjanc Subject: Curatorial Sustainism Project Good Afternoon Tina,  I hope this email finds you well and rested after your workshops this past week at the Somerset House.  My name is Natalie, I am currently doing a masters in curatorial practice at the Glasgow School of Art and I have been looking into your work and wondering if perhaps you would be interested in participating in my upcoming project, which is due to come to fruition in late August. For my project, I will be looking at sustainability within the arts with a specific focus on curatorial practice (so the physical materials they/we use to carry out exhibition making) as well as address the vocabulary we use to describe these things via a publication.  For this publication, I would also like to criticise how humans and artists always look to external sources for their materials when we could be looking at our own (human?) organisms for solutions. This is why I have felt a significant pull to your ‘Pure Human’ project. I was just wondering what you are currently working on, what is your inspiration and

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To Tina Gorjanc

what would you like to be doing?   You might be aware that the University of Glasgow has an impressive amount of anatomical collections both museum based and lab based (please see link below).   https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/lifesciences/ anatomy/  If there is anything that you think would benefit your practice, I am sure that I will be able to source some time for you in the labs and source some funding for you to do so too; I also would like to contribute to the research of your work and assist in it’s production. The outcome of your contribution to my project could look like an addition to the publication, a workshop or something as ambitious as an exhibition. This is quite a lot of information, so I will leave this here.  Please let me know what you think and if you have any time where you could contribute to this project.  If you have any questions, please get in contact with me.  Best, Natalie Nicolaides MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) Glasgow School of Art

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Correspondence

From: Tina Gorjanc Sent: 01 May 2019 15:48 To: Nicolaides, Natalie Subject: Re: Curatorial Sustainism Project Hi Natalie, hope this email finds you well. I want to start this email by thanking you for your interest in my work and the proposed collaboration - it all sounds super interesting! I would love to be on board and see what we can come up with until August. That said, I am also open up for any suggestion from your side in terms of how you envision this collaboration working out best - as you mentioned, there were quite a lot of options you put forward so it might be worth selecting the achievable ones in the given timeframe. In terms of my recent research and work I am looking into two main topics that I am currently to develop further into projects: - the first one looks into the possibility to bioengineer a keratin material that would be cast into moulds mimicking the rhino’s horns and elephant’s tusk. The products that would possibly come out of this would be biologically identical (or at least almost identical) “fake” copies of the original animal

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To Natalie Nicolaides

parts. The aim for the project is to look into the possible infiltration of such objects into the black market of animal poaching activities to partly limit such actions as well as challenge our ethical boundaries and perceptions of introducing “fakes” into the market. As you mentioned you are interested in the language surrounding such bio-projects, which I believe nicely coincidence with this project’s aim to address and question the obsolescence of our vocabulary when it comes to products of bio-design (examples: Are “fake” copies still regarded as such when they are biologically identical? How do you define the products of bioengineering - as they are not purely synthetic nor biological? etc.). There is also an option of using keratin deriving from a human source to feed into the currently popular narrative of making all of our surroundings biologically compatible with ourselves. - the second project looks […] Let me know if any of the mentioned proposals resonate with you and your practice so we can start defining the collaboration from there. Please feel free to also inquire about any further explanation or ask any questions you might have. Looking forward to your answer. Best, Tina

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Tina Gorjanc’s Project Proposal

The project’s initial objective is to bioengineer a keratin-based material that would be poured into moulds made based on rhino’s horns and elephant’s tusk 3D scans. The fabricated keratin casts would, therefore, aim to produce biologically identical copies of the original animal parts. The aim of the project is to look into the possibility of collaborating with wildlife institutions and the African government to propose alternative methods in tackling the ongoing animal poaching problematic. By suggesting to infiltrate bioengineered keratin and ivory products into the black market of animal memorabilia, the project tackles the mainstream ethical boundaries and mind-set of producing counterfeit objects.

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To Natalie Nicolaides

The project more broadly suggests the need to re-address the currently obsolete vocabulary surrounding the field of biotechnology and synthetic biology. The aim of this is to specify the source and production methods required to produce outputs derived from the two fields and suggest the new categorization for them as they, justifiably, don’t fit within the polarized categorization system we are currently relying on (synthetic vs. natural, fake vs. real, grown vs. produced, etc.).Â

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Tina Gorjanc’s Project Milestones

Milestone 1 Securing the material and equipment needed

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accessing a 3D scanner capable of scanning the animal parts (fully or in sections)

securing a borrowing agreement from an institution in possession of such object (currently looking into Natural History Museum and The London Zootic Society)


To Natalie Nicolaides

Milestone 2 Engineering of material / 3D scanning tusk and horn ― ― ―

mapping material’s full chemical structure researching possible technologies to grow material defining the process to obtain the material

Milestone 3 Looking at optimizing the material growing process and testing the moulding techniques required to produce the objects Milestone 4 Looking at optimizing the material growing process and testing the moulding techniques required to produce the objects

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To Natalie Nicolaides

From: Tina Gorjanc Sent: 13 Jun 2019 at 10:50 To: Nicolaides, Natalie Subject: Re: Curatorial Sustainism Project  Hi Natalie, thanks for your quick response. [‌] What I meant in my previous email is just that my initial/main interest is to use animal (rhino) cells for the project and not human ones - I will be looking to create biologically identical copies and ably than if they prove themselves to also being biologically identical/close to humans potentially bringing the human element into the mix. Let me know if this makes sense to you. :) Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. Best, Tina

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To Tina Gorjanc

From: Nicolaides, Natalie Sent: 14 Jun 2019 at 15:41 To: Tina Gorjanc Subject: Re: Curatorial Sustainism Project Hi Tina, Thanks for the clarifications.  I acknowledge, I misread your project proposal. I think I mixed together your previous projects and this one in my mind.  Admittedly, I am mildly alarmed over the collecting of elephant and rhino cells. There are an endangered species and I strongly believe that any samples you could get from national museums probably would not have been collected in an ethical way, which I’m sure you have considered given your research. However, in using human matter you are able to gain full consent. I believe this is something worth considering. What are your thoughts? Best, Natalie Nicolaides

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To Natalie Nicolaides

From: Tina Gorjanc Sent: 16 Jun 2019 at 17:31 To: Nicolaides, Natalie Subject: Re: Curatorial Sustainism Project Hi Natalie, hope you are well and sorry about my late reply. I do understand your concern, although there are also a couple of other factors I considered while making the decision: - if the horn molecular composition has already been sequenced (I haven’t yet fully found out about this) then there wouldn’t be a need for samples as the mimicking could be achieved from data - some museums hold the poached horns, but they have been confiscated from poachers and offer now a reach source of info instead of just being discarded - some museums might hold horns sourced ethically (from rhino that died of natural causes in zoos or reserves, which is the case of how most natural history museums gain their specimens). In terms of the reasoning into shaping the project it such way lays my strong belief that by purely producing the “fake horns” with an alternative source material (if not biological-

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ly identical to the original) would not achieve the desired purpose. As some biotech companies (up until now I have found about 2 workings on it) have already tried developing a synthetic version of the material themselves and aimed to offer it to the customers interested in rhino horns as an alternative to the unethically acquired ones. This obviously didn’t work as such costumes are clearly not looking for certain properties in the material but rather the fact that is illegal and therefore rare (plus some specific religious belief about its properties). Therefore, my ambitious aim would be to create one so biologically, structurally, visually and tactilely similar (identical) as well as exposed to same environmental factors (although produced artificially) that it would really qualify legally as an original. (Possibly approaching the government into the option to leek it into the commercial black market of rhino horns in case the first stage achieves success). If such an identical material can be synthesized from human-based genetic material that would be an added benefit, but at this point, I am not quite certain in this possibility. Hope I did explain this clearly, if not, please do not hesitate to ask me specifics. I am really appreciative of your feedback on this, so please feel free to share it as well. Wishing you a nice rest of the weekend. Best, Tina

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To Tina Gorjanc

From: Nicolaides, Natalie Sent: 25 June 2019 12:30 To: Tina Gorjanc Subject: FW: Bioengineering of Rhino Horns & Elephant Tusks Hi Tina, Please see email below.  I will ask to set up a meeting [with Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez] from the 8th July.  Is there anything that you might like me to ask on your behalf?  I have no idea about the science behind it.  After the meeting, if he’s overly interested I will inform him that I will pass his contact details over to you to contact him directly.  Kind regards, Natalie Nicolaides MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) Glasgow School of Art

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To Natalie Nicolaides

From: Tina Gorjanc Sent: 25 June 2019 14:54 To: Nicolaides, Natalie Subject: Re: FW: Bioengineering of Rhino Horns & Elephant Tusks  Hi Natalie, this looks really interesting and yes, in case he might express an interest to further advice/be part of the project I would be really happy to have him on board (also arranging a Skype meeting). I would say picking his brain on the following subjects might be really insightful for our collaborations: - how are bioengineered projects categorized legally (synthetic, biological, a product of nature...)? - what constitutes a fake copy in the area of biotech? Does material composition and structure provide enough characteristics for it to be categorized as a product of nature? If not, is it linked to the harvesting method? Is there any way to legally reproduced the harvesting method and environmental impact that might categorize the product as an original? - what would be his advice on how to go about engineering the material?

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To Natalie Nicolaides

Firstly, gaining data about the synthesized horn and then starting either from the original source (cells from the horn) or other types of cells? - would he advise to firstly start purely to engineer the material or already thinking about possible chemical requirements that might be necessary for the manufacturing process later on in the first stages of the project (depending on the material structure of the horn there might be a need to produce it by casting, printing, etc.)? This is all the questions that currently come to my mind. If I think of anything else I will send it over prior to your meeting on the 8th of July. Best, Tina

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To Natalie Nicolaides

From: Tina Gorjanc Sent: 26 June 2019 10:40 To: Nicolaides, Natalie Subject: Re: FW: Bioengineering of Rhino Horns & Elephant Tusks  Hi Natalie, I just had a thought about another possible path for the project that might be good to share with Manuel as to get a better understanding of the possibilities. - what would he reckon about the possibility of growing the horn (either prior in the lab and then biologically binding it to the poached rhinos or stimulating regrowth) directly on the rhino? As a big portion of rhinos is affected by decreased reproductive possibilities due to poaching, so this might be a possible application as well. It might also act to some degree to decrease the value of the horn as it would make it more abundant. Obviously, this is just a thought, but still worth exploring in my opinion. Let me know your thoughts and in case you have any requirements from my side prior to your meeting. Best, Tina

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To Tina Gorjanc

From: Nicolaides, Natalie Sent: 25 June 2019 12:30 To: Tina Gorjanc Subject: FW: Bioengineering of Rhino Horns & Elephant Tusks Morning Tina,  […] Thanks for all your notes of things to ask Manuel when I meet with him, which I confirm will happen on Wednesday 10th July at 14.00. He has agreed to let me record our meeting so I will share this with you shortly after. Regarding your question below, a little ethical flag went up in my mind.  While I understand the importance of your question hypothetically, realistically would we want to tether a bio-grown horn to a rhino? Wouldn’t that make them more of a target?  I’m sorry to sound like red tape, I’m just very aware that these are questions that would be raised. […] Like I mentioned previously, the publication is now wholly about your project. 

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My interviews with various people are informing it and my voice within it is looking at the ethical / sustainable aspect of the project. Our emails will also be partly included. All of this will come to you for final approval early August (1,2/08). If anything, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Kind regards, Natalie Nicolaides

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To Natalie Nicolaides

From: Tina Gorjanc Sent: 02 July 2019 21:29 To: Nicolaides, Natalie Subject: Re: FW: Bioengineering of Rhino Horns & Elephant Tusks  Hi Natalie, thanks for the updates and hope you are well. Firstly, I do also really appreciate any feedback or raise of concerns from your part as it allows me to view the project from another angle.  I also want to express my gratefulness in terms of you sharing all the collected material/recordings with me as I believe this might reshape and inform my views and aims within the project. In that regards, I understand your ethical concerns in terms of attaching the bio-grown horn onto a rhino, but as you have already expressed it in your email, this question is meant to explore the possible technical end ethical boundaries of such a technology. A possible practical application that might emerge from such conversation is more along the lines of cell growth promoting agents if applied to the animal - but I am also fully aware that this type of application proposal would need to be fully researched and examined beforehand

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to understand the possible consequences of it (either decreasing or elevating the poaching rate and material interest). I am really excited about the illustrations and would love to see them! As I have also mentioned I did one and am still doing some on my own, hopefully finishing them by the end of the week and will be sharing them with you. You will be free to use them if you find it fitting and useful. I will also update the document I have sent previously and would love to do some writing about the project, however, this might happen later in July as I am travelling from this Saturday onwards and won’t be reachable for the next two weeks (please, do let me know if there are anything you urgently require from my side prior to that, otherwise I will be in touch after the 21st of July). I am sorry to hear we won’t get a chance to meet in person, but I am fully confident you have spent the resources on how you best see fit, […] Thanks again for all your help so far and in the future. Looking forward to all the material you will be sharing and any further comments from your side. Lovely evening. Best, Tina

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To Natalie Nicolaides

From: Tina Gorjanc Sent: 07 August 2019 11:45 To: Nicolaides, Natalie 1 Subject: Re: Draft - Harvest Publication Dear Natalie, hope you are doing fine and the development of the publication is taking the desired shape. I have read through the draft you have sent and thought there is a nice flow through. I also found a lot of text that has been crossed, which is still a bit confusing, so I look forward to seeing the final thing. As promised in our last call I am attaching a brief written reflection on the project (sorry for catching the last day we agreed upon): https://docs.google.com/document/[‌] Hope this is something useful to you. let me know if you need anything else from my side. Keeping my fingers crossed the last bits of the project will go smoothly! Best, Tina

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CONVERSATIONS

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“Humans like to command nature rather than open up a dialogue with it”

Francis McKee 12

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McKee, F. (2017). Even the Dead Rise Up. London: Book Works, p. 51


The Reality of Things

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Francis McKee

Director, CCA, Glasgow

NN So, I want to talk a little bit more about my project, and what you think of it. Like I said Tina Gorjanc is looking to bioengineer Elephant tusks and Rhino horns. Now, I think I’m getting sustainability and ethics a little bit mixed up in my project. Aren’t they kind of the same? FM Well sustainable is meant to be an ethical... it’s presumed to be an ethical thing so say sustainable biofuel is ethical because it’s not generating so much climate change. However, the question is should you maintain that system? Is it good that people should be able to fly ethically to the Algarve and ruin the coast land? So there’s a bigger, deeper question. You’re making something sustainable but itself might not be a good thing so it’s whether the whole society is sustainable in terms of the way it’s going, in terms of growth, the whole notion of growth. So there’s that. Why is she doing this? What does she hope to achieve? ☛

NN = Natalie Nicolaides

FM = Francis McKee

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Conversations: Francis McKee

NN ... Her end goal, as she mentioned it to me, was that she wanted to create this replica and then introduce it to the black market and see how people, collectors specifically, react to it and look at the terminology surrounding authenticity and originality and so on, and perhaps challenge it with this ‘copy’. FM What do you think of that? NN I mean I was all for it when I assumed she was going to use human biological material. I thought she was going to use keratin from humans so nails and bits to cast the mould to create it and then she got back to me on Friday saying, “no, I want to use Rhino cells.” ... FM Where would she get the Rhino cells? Would she have grown them? NN I asked her as well (whimper) ... I told her, “anything that you are likely to use would have been poached. […] And she replied saying, “If I can find the molecular structure, so if the data is already there I can just use that to [re]create it.” But otherwise she doesn’t think it’s likely she will find the molecular structure so, yeah she would go to a museum to gather some cells. Some of them use specimens that have

60


The Reality of Things

died in reserves and in zoos. […] I did prompt her and ask, “why not use human material?” And she said, “In the black market, collectors are unlikely to take to it because it’s not authentic.” So, I’m just left with this huge dilemma... FM Has she done any work around... I suppose I’m more interested in the authentic side than the cell side. I would argue that, ok, the things she is looking at are already dead and are already poached so if you could do something that would stop others from being poached by taking from them maybe that’s not ethically sound but it’s not the worst thing. But as a collector, obsessively myself, if you give me a copy of a 1928 / 78 blues disc it’s a copy. It’s the same shellac, it’s the same tape, same everything... it’s a copy and I want the one from 1928 in that way that we want one of Prince Charlie’s hair. We want the thing from the time and the thing from the time has the aura. NN Oh the ‘aura’ argument... FM Yeah, because the copy doesn’t. A lot of collecting is based on that. You could’ve had a Mona Lisa in every museum around the world, again the Kelvingrove Museum has two Dali’s, they made a copy when it was attacked. ☛

61


Conversations: Francis McKee

No one quite knows which one is ever on show because the copy is used more frequently and that’s why it was made but nobody knows which you buy if you were a collector and they said to you “Ok, we’re selling it.” NN I think if the collector is willing to spend a lot of money on an object they would try and do tests to determine which is real and which is not (?) FM You’d expect to be told if you’re buying it. NN I doubt it... FM Personally as a collector you’d buy both because then you’ve got the added provenance of this story but you’d want the original. You could produce the second Dali and people don’t know and look at it in the museum and go, “oh that’s great.” Surely you could have the Mona Lisa in every museum in the world we can 3D print these things now. So, if you can do that, why don’t we? The solution to the British Museum thing is you could go to the shop and buy a really good replica in the British Museum so why couldn’t they have replicas everywhere ...

62


The Reality of Things

NN It’s more of a commercial thing I guess. You can’t demand optimum money if everyone has it everywhere. FM If you had a franchise you could franchise the British Museum in every major city around the world and you know that there’s an IKEA on the outskirts and beside it is a British Museum and you could travel there on the bus and you could see all these things. NN I kind of like that idea, IKEA and a mini British Museum. FM Yeah, people might go there because there would be an IKEA (chuckles)... NN To have lunch or breakfast and then wander over to the British Museum. I like that, we should pitch that to Glasgow City Council. FM Well, Glasgow City Council have an IKEA beside the airport. [...]

63


1

Growing Teeth

Maggie Reilly

Zoology Curator, The Hunterian, Glasgow

NN I asked Manuel, “how long would the process take from start to finish? If we were to build one and let’s say we had no obstacles and everything was perfect,” and he said around one to two years. So, I’m thinking in one to two years will there be a point? Would the rhinos all be deceased? Will their species have extinct? That’s another difficult question. MR I think the current estimates of survival for rhinos are 50 years, it could be less; it might be 10 years but we’re talking within your lifetime. I hope it’s not within what’s left of mine but you know, it’s a short-term thing here. And also, if you were going to grow rhino horn in a dish for the medical market you’d just need lumps of it and flog it. It’s a kind of fantasy worked out - but of course then there are ceremonial rhino horn daggers in the middle East and this kind of thing, it’s... what market are you going to satisfy here?

NN = Natalie Nicolaides

64

MR = Maggie Reilly


Conversations

Because ceremonial daggers aren’t snuffed up someone’s nose or swallowed by the teaspoon, they’re ceremonial objects that are handed on so one might imagine possibly limiting the market for those, but when people use it up mistakenly as a drug then it’s gone. But then there will be no point in ... let’s suppose in a fantasy world there was some medicinal power in it, then a drug company could easily take it on and synthesise it and work on synthesising it but as I said it would be similar to grinding up your toenails, it’s just as about effective. That could be an anti-ploy, “Can’t get rhino horn? Try chewing your own toenails that’ll work just as well.” For elephant tusks I know experimentally teeth can be induced to grow, we call it in-vitro - in glass - I’ve seen some stuff on that. People are interested in... there’s layers to the skin, the outer layer of the epidermis and the sort of dermis that lies below, and the muscles and the connected tissue lie below that, and people have been interested in looking for the things that grow in the skin so, hair and nails and scales and feathers. How does that happen? How is it controlled? How has it happened in evolutionary time over the vertebra animals? ☛

65


Conversations: Maggie Reilly

I mean the dermis does all the hard work, well in the sense of it provides the signals to the epidermis to tell it whether to grow a tooth, a scale, a feather, a hair- this is very broadly speaking, my biology might be a little out of date here, about 30 years old on this subject. So, if you want to grow a tooth, you’re going to have to get the dental epidermis and dermis living and then it will start to grow teeth tissue. Whether it will grow a tusk I don’t know it might just grow a molar tooth tissue in-vitro. I don’t know but I think because dentistry are a big thing for humans there has been a lot of research and so going onto this bit. As you will know for humans at least, we have two sets of teeth, we have baby teeth - milk teeth - and they fall out when we’re about 6 up to when we’re about 13-14. Then you get adult teeth then that’s that. Elephants have a slightly different system, their teeth are different than ours, they’ve got their tusks and they’ve got some molars and they get 7 molars in the course of their life and they kind of grow one at a time and push down from the back of the jaw into ... they grow from up here [points to upper mouth] and push forward and so they grind up all the browse that they eat with the molars and then they use their tusks for display and manipulation of food and so on.

66


Growing Teeth

So, the molars are growing... their tusks are growing out of the top part of the jaw so at least in theory if one was contemplating growing some elephant tusk tissue you would have to get, I guess, a piece of the gum from the upper jaw ... [...]

67


68


Illustration from Artist’s Sketchbook 2, Tina Gorjanc © 2019

69


1

Three Manufacturing Methods

Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez

Head of Bioengineering, University of Glasgow

MSS Alright, so I can tell you what I think. NN Yes, tell me what you think MSS About ... should we look at the questions that you sent to me? NN Yeah, sure. So the first one, was ... MSS So, I looked at the anatomy, they physiology of the horn and it’s quite complex because if you want to have a living horn then the outside layer is relatively simple, it’s a keratin structure... NN ...Like a mould

NN = Natalie Nicolaides

70

MMS = Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez


Conversations

MSS ... Yeap. But then inside there is real living bone and so engineering the whole thing, because one of your questions is related to ‘could this be implanted?’ So that means a project that involves, let’s say at least a bilayer structure where you have bone regeneration that is something that we have worked a lot trying to engineer bone. But then this is a specialised bone because it’s covered by a much harder structure that is a keratin. So that’s one issue. If the idea is to engineer just the horn it’s not simple because keratin is not a simple protein. It’s very difficult... it’s very insoluble in water, so water solubility is very low of this protein and in general terms what I think... It’s still feasible because basically you need the material and that’s keratin, how to obtain this keratin? ☛

71


Conversations: Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez

So, there are different routes, I think there are these 3 routes. One of them is you use human material and you isolate the protein, for example hair, there’s a lot of protein in hair, that’s one option. The second option is that you have cells in a culture that produces this protein and this could be either human cells like keratinocytes, keratinocytes secrete keratin of course, that’s why... and you can isolate this protein and then what to do with these proteins is the next step. The third option that I had a quick look at and is also feasible is that you produce what is called ‘recombinant keratin’ and that’s produced by bacteria. So, recombinant proteins, this is done for many other proteins, you use micro-organisms that are genetically modified to manufacture that protein so that you have like a ... a manufacturing process which involves bacteria producing this protein. We have some experience in doing something similar for other types of proteins. Once you have your protein is what to do with that protein and then I think you need a manufacturing technique like it could be 3D printing, could be electro spinning could be injection moulding.

72


Three Manufacturing Methods

I mean a little bit more thought is needed about that. So, yes, thinking about the mould for the outer layer of the horn there is a keratin structure, you need keratin, [‌] and then a manufacturing process to have the real anatomical shape to develop. [...]

73


2

Collectors / Death / Magic

Francis McKee

Director, CCA, Glasgow

[...] FM My fear is that bootleggers are specialists, they’re obsessive collectors. It’s not going to be good enough. NN No, nothing will ever be good enough because they can just look at it and say, “this didn’t age, this isn’t grown naturally”... FM Basically it’s not from a real Rhino and so you don’t get the death you don’t get the harvesting and you don’t get the historical Rhino horn. You get a copy made in a factory and for the bootlegger that’s not enough. NN They need that scent of death in the horn. FM And they might also want the magical property. The Rhino itself is a magical animal and this is the horn of this magical animal. NN = Natalie Nicolaides

74

FM = Francis McKee


Conversations

You don’t get that magic from a 3D printer. The Rhino horn is connected to virility and stuff but all those things are all connected with an innate sense of it as a living tissue and it’s not coming from the entity of the organism. The organism is like you are what you eat, you know red meat is from animals. We eat animals so we believe profoundly in eating animals in some ways. That’s not just about nutrition because we know that the nutritional aspect is actually problematic - milk is not great for us, red meat is not great for us, bacon is terrible for us - but the relationship is with the animal and you know, meal the pig. (Chuckles) […] FM But the weirdness of eating an animal, the weirdness of looking at an animal and thinking, “people eat those - unbelievable”, is very strange. NN What do you mean? FM Well, you look at a horse and you look at a cow and you think, “yeah we’re the ultimate predator,” [...] So when you stand back from it a little bit, it’s so weird. [...] 75


2

Art and Biotechnology

Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez

Head of Bioengineering, University of Glasgow

MSS It’s quite a technological project, I like the project because it’s a real combination of art and ... very advanced biotechnology. NN Yeah, that’s what drew me to it. Tina’s end goal for the project is to introduce the horn into the black market and see how consumers react so that’s why you get a few questions were she’s asking about, ‘What constitutes a fake in biotech?’ because she’s wondering if she grows it and introduces it, it’s real but it hasn’t been carved off a rhino’s face but it’s still real, so why wouldn’t they react to it the way they would to a ‘normal’ poached rhino horn? And I quite like that idea of trying to make a solution ... I mean, I’ve spoken to a collector and he said that collectors, “they will never go for it because, there is no death and harvesting attached to it, that’s why you buy it”. So, It’s one of those projects it could...

NN = Natalie Nicolaides

76

MMS = Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez


Conversations

MSS Yes but it’s different. You know there is now, and it has nothing to do with art, but there is now a lot of interest in something people call ‘artificial meat’. I mean, if you isolate cells from, I don’t know, a cow, you can grow these cells in the lab so that they produce direct sectional matrix and in the end you can have a steak that is real but it doesn’t involve killing any animal. And I think now, there is a real investment from companies in manufacturing these products which are not there yet but I think the ethical implications could ... I don’t know for example; could vegetarians be interested in this? I don’t know. I have been a vegetarian for many years .... But maybe a part of the population... So I think in bioengineering, different products develop for different applications, there is certainly a market but how successful this product will be. As you said, there’s a lot of uncertainty about it. ☛

77


Conversations: Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez

NN I think it’s just because it’s unmarked territory so no one really knows what / how to respond to it. There’s an argument to do with what is called the ‘aura’ theory within art history, where if you have an original painting it has the ‘aura’ because it has the artist’s touch, it’s just the original. Whereas if you see it duplicated it loses that ‘magic’ almost... and there are lengthy discussions about magic. So, there are people already doing this kind of bioengineering as you said with the meat, so Tina’s project is quite... it’s original but not quite, is that what you would say? MSS I think it’s original in the sense that the application is new, but in a sense, she has done something similar before with the skin, and we in more scientific projects we do a lot of research in trying to engineer tissues for different applications. Bone is one of them... We do it mostly trying to repair tissue that has been damaged and that’s an area called ‘tissue engineering’... These bioengineering approaches can be a reality, that really you can produce something that is made of the same material that a real, in this case rhino horn, but where that follows a technology that doesn’t involve killing

78


Art and Biology

any rhino. That’s ... I think it’s novel and the combination of art and science is ... I mean, I was quite impressed because many people are just focused on the scientific development of this technologies not for rhino horns but for other types of tissues so the combination I think is quite risky but at the same time quite attractive. [...]

79


2

The Necessity of Rhino Horn

Maggie Reilly

Zoology Curator, The Hunterian, Glasgow

MG I mean it’s certainly the kind of idea that one might grow rhino horn which at the end of the day that would be selling effectively a harmless substance to idiots so, you know... How much money is made like that around the world? It seems to me the basis of a great deal of commerce, so that’s nothing new. So, I don’t really have a kind of particularly strong view on that although probably the authentic, the real one might then go up in value yet again rather than a kind of lab grown something. You know if you get the real McCoy that’s what the really filthy rich stupid would go for, do you know what I mean? NN I mean I spoke with Francis McKee who’s the CCA Director... MG Yeah.... NN And he collects stuff as well, and he said, “there’s no way I can see any bootlegger going for this... it’s an NN = Natalie Nicolaides

80

MR = Maggie Reilly


Conversations

authentic replica”, if theory becomes reality but, “because they want the death and harvesting attached to it when they buy an object,” and I was like, “That is ....” MG I think that kind of trophy gathering aspect of it, I mean... I’m not sure what the split in these people is from those who ... It’s the death and glory aspect that motivates them. Certainly for rhino I thought it was largely the commercial value of the horn that motivated these individuals. For elephants I think the death and glory is still quite strong. You know, that’s still trophy hunting per se, whereas I think with rhino it’s probably shifted into the commercial value of the horn but I’m not certain about that. I mean, if there is commercial hunting of rhino for trophy hunting? NN I haven’t seen a lot of cases recently... MG I wouldn’t have thought... NN Recently as you say, it’s more of a ... MG I think it’s more about poachers taking the rhino horn... ☛

81


Conversations: Maggie Reilly

NN And the thing is, that you don’t even need to kill the rhino! I know that there’s a lot just there [pointing at the base of the nose] but if you cut it, within 3 years it will grow back because it’s regenerative. MG I know one conservation measure is to de-horn young rhinos so that they’ve just not got the horn. I assume horns on rhinos are to do with sexual display, I’m not certain about it being for inter-male fighting or inter-male display, so that the lack of the horn is not great shakes to a rhino, you know, it can function perfectly in every other aspect of its life. It doesn’t need it for digging up its dinner or anything like that... so dehorning them has... it would be interesting to know the report on that you know, and how well it’s worked.

82


The Necessity of Rhino Horn

83


3

A Year Maybe Two

Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez

Head of Bioengineering, University of Glasgow

NN So, if Tina were to get a mould formed, how long do you think the whole growing process would take? From start to ... let’s say we’re looking for a 1:1 kind of horn how long? I can’t even fathom what that would look like... MSS Do you mean once the material is ready or...? NN Yeah, so like, as if, “we’ve just finished it, let’s put this onto the market,” so from starting in the lab with nothing to that end point. How long do you think that could take? MSS It’s difficult to tell but I think... I mean the order of magnitude to me would be at least a year and I don’t think it’s a matter of weeks or months...

NN = Natalie Nicolaides

84

MMS = Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez


Conversations

NN No, I didn’t think so... MSS I say a year but maybe two years. Depends on how things go with growing and the production of the material, the growing of the cells, isolating proteins. It’s quite complex I believe. •

85


3

The Planet Will Get Rid Of Us If We Don’t…

Maggie Reilly

Zoology Curator, The Hunterian, Glasgow

See the thing is, the planet will get rid of us if we don’t. […] I mean I’m interested in James Lovelock’s ‘Gaia’ hypothesis but that’s a kind of metaphor for planetary processes, what will change and that climate change will bring minimum lack of food. So there will be famines and floodings... and disease will spread and basically you know, kind of, almost like biblical proportions. The horsemen of the apocalypse will ride again and we’ve kind of controlled them for the last hundred years in a rather arrogant way. We’re all clever and we can do this. Mmmm let me think... I don’t think so. Anyway, […] I don’t know if any of that […] is of any use to you but the bioengineering aspects are quite interesting kind of idea with all the kind of caveats that you’re clearly aware of both in practical terms but also in the output of it you know, if you did do this, how would it play? What would people think of it? Would people always want the authentic thing? The real thing? Either because somehow the real is always better or, as you say, for the death and glory aspect of it. Interesting idea... •

86


Vantage Points

3

Francis McKee

Director, CCA, Glasgow

NN So bearing all that in mind, that climate migration is heading northwards, regarding the project that Gorjanc is working on, it kind of diminishes it a little bit... FM It doesn’t really. You break all these things down and you get these microcosms of microcosms. All the debates are in that little bit and the really interesting thing isn’t, “who’s right? What will happen? Will the bootlegger accept it? Where does it come from?”. Each one of those decisions sits on top of a whole set of issues. So that’s what’s fascinating that you explore all these issues through this one small concrete example because otherwise it’s too overwhelming. ☛

NN = Natalie Nicolaides

FM = Francis McKee

87


Conversations: Francis McKee

NN It does look a bit... it feels a bit overwhelming. FM We had a board meeting about it. We were talking about this migration thing and someone said, “I just can’t actually think about it because it’s so large and overwhelming. I just can’t even care because it’s too big.” But something smaller where you can see all the issues, you can then see what might happen and what might work and what might not. •

88


Vantage Points


Animal Conservation as the New Bio-Luxury Scientists, futurists, and philosophers have theorised about the immortality of an organic body, as the ultimate stage of the luxury hierarchy, and advocate that biological perpetuity could be achieved in the indefinite future. This awareness, regarding the possibility to extend our stay on the planet, combined with the new responsibility towards next generations to come — felt by most of us as the remainder of the excessive exploitation of our resources — seem to have infused the meaning of the term with a more nostalgic aftertaste. This new approach to the idea of luxury puts its values in an entirely different context that emphasises the notion of identity and inheritance. Expectations towards more sustainable solutions that could partly regenerate if not completely eliminate the consequences of our overindulgence, seem to have been put mostly on the shoulders of new emerging bioengineering companies. Their ambitious plans towards redesigning and reprogramming living organisms are presenting us with a seductive future scenario that seems to feed into the new concept of luxury — the ability to save our decaying planet.

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by Tina Gorjanc

By means of synthetic biology, several attempts to preserve our biological resources have been made from private companies. Their communal aim is to restore the lost equilibrium between human indulgence – for example, the exploitation of our natural capital and what has been, up until recently, considered the natural level of fauna on our planet. As the conservation attempts surrounding endangered species are usually overshadowed by the problems of biological exploitation, present in large-scale farming institutions, the current initiative to restore the balance by using biotechnologies to either protect or revive species is still limited to a smaller number of initiatives. The new emerging paradox in the world of designing, with biological matter, seems to present a new opportunity to tackle the issue of animal poaching for distribution on the black market from a fresh perspective. ☛

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Animal Conservation as the New Bio-Luxury

As our current society is becoming mostly driven by the aspiration to constantly innovate, it is starting to lack the ability to analyse the cultural understanding of what we are experiencing in the process of innovating. Old definitions and stereotypes of ‘original’ and ‘fake’, ‘natural’ and ‘synthetic’, ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ are becoming obsolete as new discoveries in the field of synthetic biology are being made. By re-addressing the current obsolete vocabulary surrounding the field of biotechnology, the aim is to recategorise the outputs produced by the new technologies. This initiative might finally expose the need for specificity, when it comes to exposing the source and production methods required for the formation of bio-design outputs, with the emphasis on the requirement for a new categorisation system. •

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Profile for Natalie Nicolaides

Harvest  

Harvest is a publication compiled by curator Natalie Nicolaides that provides a live response to the practice of London-based artist Tina Go...

Harvest  

Harvest is a publication compiled by curator Natalie Nicolaides that provides a live response to the practice of London-based artist Tina Go...

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