Cloning occurs in many ways, twins are natural clones, plants are cloned. In 1996 Dolly the sheep was cloned – the first known genetically cloned living thing from an adult somatic cell, using the process of nuclear transfer.
The late 1990’s was an interesting time for me – I had started my MA in Fine Art at Cardiff UWIC and my mother had just died. Somehow my exploration into my own identity and how it was wrapped up in that of my mother, and the potential for cloning, became inextricably linked in my mind. I created artworks about it – video films of morphing body parts, shape-shifting and sheep, not only in wolves clothing, but in snakeskins, leopard skins and fish scales. It felt like the very concept of identity and how we appear was being dismantled cell by cell. Orlon was merrily having plastic surgery with horns transplanted in her face; Stelarc was attaching electronics and prosthetics to his body; Franko B was bleeding over his white painted flesh reminding us of the flesh-body. It was a messy time in many ways.
It all bounced back into my head when I went to see some shows the other day in London. Firstly the work by Diverse Maniere , in the John Soanes Museum , who has made 3D rendered copies of objects depicted in a print by Piranesi and secondly, Martin Creeds show at the Hayward.
Society too has become so homogenous – every city is full of the same shops, waterside developments, similar signange, street furniture. New houses are mostly little boxes made of ticky-tacky as per the 60’s folk song. Cars are cloned and even limited by colour range. It’s all so ‘beige’.
We risk living in the stage set of the Truman Show, or Stepford Wives.
The mass culture of repetition is pretty depressing, but I still feel very inspired by the concept of cloning. Like all potentially dangerous things, cloning is only dangerous in the wrong hands. Celebrating difference is important too – we must use these things with care and consideration.