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Adam Zaretsky

MMMM (or Macro Micro Music Massage) and WorkHorse Zoo

Adam Zaretsky, Working sketch for MMMM (or Macro Micro Music Massage), 2001
Adam Zaretsky, Working sketch for WorkHorse Zoo, 2001 Adam Zaretsky, Jammin’ w/E. coli, 2000
Adam Zaretsky, Soft Kill, 2000 (video)
Adam Zaretsky, Soft Kill, 2000 (video)
The Foundation has supported the development of two new artworks by Adam Zaretsky: MMMM (or Macro Micro Music Massage) and WorkHorse Zoo. The first was a culmination of his musical fermentation experiments with E. coli bacteria. The artist has created an installation in which two Acouve/Sony Audio Massage Chairs (a chair that massages according to audio output transmitted from the opposite chair) were connected to vibrating plate speakers attached to flasks full of phosphorescent cells (plasmodium phosphoreum) or K-12 E. coli cells. Participants instigated the experiments with the cells by massaging each other with audio. This installation was based on the artist's previous experiments whereby music by Englebert Humperdinck was played to E. coli cells to see whether antibiotic production could be influenced by vibrations or sounds. The artist states:

"My personal favorite artistic offering to public experience is the reinsertion of fun for fun's sake into the social. I know that sounds simple and naïve. It is. Vibrating chairs are titillating. The idea of helping strangers in public liven each other's bodily experience shamelessly in a temporary suspension of moral standards is my call to duty. It's something to do while waiting for the AIDS vaccine. At the same time, the conjoining of the microcosm and the human body, so often forgotten in the workaday world, will be emphasized. A simple assay should prove growth of cells due to vibration, which can be extrapolated to human tickling and vibro-erotism in general. This sensual experience could abstract our importance as self-centered entities by focusing on bounce as a form of transient existence. In other words this is art and tech lite, public hedonism and unashamedly so." (1)

The second was a performance that investigated what the artist calls the "industrial workhorses of molecular biology."(2) He filled a clean room with various organisms normally treated and separated aseptically in biological experiments. Zaretsky lived for a week in the space with the organisms, perhaps slightly referencing Eduardo Kac's experience with Alba, the GFP bunny. The overlap of such diverse microenvironments and the reintroduction of the natural life cycle created a chaotic, messy space: the antithesis of the clean room (scientific experimentation) itself.

"I feel as if the display of these animals, (preferably wild type, not genetically modified but the fish, frogs and mice could be wild-type albinos), in a spectator arena is an aid towards intelligent discussion about animal research, pro or con, without the moral superiority of pat answers. These are the organisms that shoulder the brunt of scientific invasiveness. These are the organisms whose genomes have been sequenced, partially annotated and altered beyond the plausible. These are the evolutionary templates whom we search for homologies to assess our own inherited pains. Much of the public has little or no idea how much the study of these select strains affects their health and potential physical future." (3)

Angela Plohman © 2004 FDL

(1) This is an excerpt from Adam Zaretsky's project proposal to the Daniel Langlois Foundation, January 31, 2001, cited with permission of the artist, n.p.n

(2) Ibid., n.p.n.

(3) Ibid., n.p.n.