Saturday, August 6, 2011

Made To Order
Fine-Art Prints (Silkscreen)

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This blogspot is not only devoted to ArtCloth and all things fabric (e.g. wearables) but also to limited edition prints on paper and artists' printmakers books. I have listed below for your convenience my contribution to this artistic genre.

Unique State (Partners in Print)
Wangi's Djiran:"Unique State" Prints
Veiled Curtains
A Letter to a Friend
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Travelling Solander Project
Star Series
Cry for the Wilderness
Federation on Hold - Call Waiting
Wish You Were Where?
The Four Seasons

I have always combined my passions. My prints on cloth techniques inform my prints on paper techniques and vice versa (where such overlaps are possible). Hence I developed my Multisperse Dye Sublimation, Matrix Formatting and Low Relief Screen Printing (LRSP) techniques for prints on paper and then modified and transferred these techniques to cloth in order to create some of my ArtCloth works.

Made To Order: Limited Edition Prints on Paper
Manipulating the genes of plants and animals has a long tradition in the history of human kind. For example, corn and wheat harvested last century was not the corn and wheat believed to have been naturally created thousands of years BC. More dramatically, the current dog sub-species (e.g. Rough Collies) were only created in recent times. Furthermore, "Mad Cow" disease has become a recent engineered phenomenon due to the desire of farmers wanting fatter bovines. By feeding them offal from pigs the growth hormones consumed produced fatter cows, but also produced meat that hosted a virus that attacked the human brain. Ethical questions aside, the consequences of making herbivores into carnivores has had tragic outcomes.

It is only in recent times that species "cross insertion" can be easily achieved. Genetic engineering is the technique used to modify the genetic code of one plant or animal by inserting the genetic code of another. Like all such processes, "Nature" has no opinion on the value of the process. Once such a process has been developed, whether the process is used wisely or otherwise is only a relative measure – a human judgment.

Genetically modified foods (GMF) are foods that have been genetically altered by human beings in order to satisfy a particular purpose that originally "Nature" did not intend nor engineer. For example, tomatoes only contain a certain level of sugar. Human beings like to eat sweet foods. By altering the make-up of the plant, scientists can make tomatoes sweeter and so tomato producers can sell more. To do this requires altering the building stuff that makes up the tomato plant.

All plants and animals contain deoxyribonucleotides (DNA). DNA is a molecule made up of a sequence of amino acid units. There are approximately 22 different types of amino acid units and a DNA molecule contains only some of them. The order of these amino acid units in DNA defines what type of DNA it is (i.e. type of plant or animal) and what its purpose is (i.e. what type of proteins it will manufacture). A gene is a region of the DNA strand that codes what molecules that need to be produced. By splicing in a specific gene from another plant or animal into the DNA sequence of a tomato, you can make it sweeter.

Using genes from animals in plant foods and even genes from human beings poses ethical, philosophical and religious dilemmas. For example, in both the Muslim and Jewish religions, consuming pork is forbidden. Hence inserting a gene from a pig into a plant will cause certain religious groups significant distress (especially if they are unaware that this operation was performed). On the other hand, one could argue that modifying crops to resist attack from pest or disease would be environmentally beneficial, since it would reduce the need for chemical sprays that are currently damaging our river systems (e.g. eliminate the presence of green algae) or it could mean that the drop in the population of pests or the frequency of disease may have unforeseen dire consequences in some other unforeseen bio-cycle; that is, intricate feedback loops are hard to tease out in terms of their ultimate overall effect.

"Made to Order" is a series of four prints on paper that addresses the dilemma of GMF. These prints do not just present foods that are genetically modified. These prints take on a stance that all genetically modified food should be labeled since this is what these prints are in fact doing – they are labeling a selection of plants that have been modified and then identifying the genes that have been inserted. They are voicing the opinion that the consumer has a right to know!

These limited edition prints were created in 2000 and are held at The University of Newcastle Print Collection (collected in 2000) and in private collections (collected in 2000). They were exhibited at Megalo Print Studio & Gallery (Canberra) - see previous blog. Some editions are available for sale as a series or on individual basis.

Made to Order I
{Screen-print, 70 cm (length) x 55 cm (width) - a set of ten colors was used in this print}.

Wheat was chosen as a topic for this print, since it has been genetically modified for over 5000 years using traditional methods of cross-fertilization. For example, the CSIRO has been investigating for several decades the creation of a hybrid plant that will resist disease such as wheat "rust". However, modern genetic engineering techniques are currently being researched in order to obtain a variety of wheat that is resistant to pests and diseases. In order for this to be achieved a catalogue of gene symbols was being established when this print was created.

A photographic reproduction of a field of stacked wheat bundles forms the background of the bottom of the print. A double-stranded DNA motif is in the lower right hand corner of the print in order to ensure that the viewer is aware that the subject matter is about the genetic engineering of wheat. This is further substantiated by the incorporation of the catalogue of gene symbols text in the top left of the print. In the top right hand corner the "Hand of the New Creator" indicates that it is a human rather than Nature's intervention.

Made to Order II
{Screen-print, 70 cm (length) x 55 cm (width) - a set of fifteen colors was used in this print}.

Bioengineers at one company learned that the Arctic flounder produces an antifreeze to protect itself in freezing waters. When this print was created they planned to find the gene that regulates production of the antifreeze, which they intended to introduce into strawberry plants. Their success would result in strawberry plants that can withstand frosts and berries that do not turn to mush after spending time in the home freezer.

This text is incorporated in the top right hand corner of the print over the image of the DNA zinc finger. An illustrated panel of fish moving in all directions sits in a central position behind a large strawberry. These are two food types, which normally have no cross-fertilization history. This association is further queried by the image of fishing trawlers in a bay at the bottom of the print. To further develop the un-natural pairing of these foods, tiny black "fish" have replaced the yellow "pips" that are normally found on the strawberry surfaces.

Made to Order III
{Screen-print, 70 cm (length) x 55 cm (width) - a set of fourteen colors was used in this print}.

"Flavr-Savr" tomatoes were developed to ripen more slowly on the vine without going soft - to improve their flavor while keeping them sturdy enough to travel long distances and extend their shelf life. Once in a tomato plant, the "Flavr-Savr" gene attaches itself to the polygalacturonase (PG) gene. With the "Flavr-Savr" gene adhering to it, the PG gene cannot give the necessary signals to produce the polygalacturonase enzyme that destroys pectin (the compound that makes the tomato go soft). One way of visualizing this is to imagine how hard it would be for people to function if we each had a mirror image of ourselves stuck to us.

Two line art tomatoes attached to each other (in boxes) appear in the top left hand corner of the print together with some of the above text. An image of a ferritin homolog that binds and protects DNA is situated in a central position behind the tomato. A computer-manipulated reproduction of a laboratory scene is positioned at the bottom of the print. The central tomato image shows a whole tomato and a cut tomato. The central cream-colored area of this cut tomato has been printed upside down to further develop the concept of the conversion of the PG gene into a reverse image of itself called an anti-sense orientation.

Made to Order IV
{Screen-print, 70 cm (length) x 55 cm (width) - a set of sixteen colors was used in this print}.

Possibly the most controversial development in GM technology is the so-called "Terminator" Gene, inserted into plant DNA. When the gene is activated, it causes the seeds of the next generation to self-destruct; that is, they are rendered sterile and cannot be saved for the next season.

This text has been printed in the mid-left section of the print. An image of a DNA template appears in the top right hand corner. Corn stalks along a fence line are printed at the bottom of the print. A large cob of corn is positioned in the center and directly above it is a DNA single crystal. To further substantiate it is a human rather than Nature's intervention, the "Hands of the New Creator" appear in the upper left and upper right of the corn cob. This also confirms in the viewers mind that the prints have started and ended with this concept of human intervention and so completes the series.

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