Stem-cell research, GM food and human cloning is already causing controversy, even as a future where these biotechnological advances are common comes closer.
Lin Hsin-yi's (林欣怡) Organic Mall (人體器官物流) is trying to add another voice to this ethical debate and she intends to sound an alarm, or at least provoke us into thinking about the issue.
Organic Mall, which Lin created for her first solo exhibition at IT Park gallery (伊通公園), feigns to be a body organ trading Web site set up in the year 2065. Athttp://web.tnca.edu.tw/~g890105/about-new.htm. It offers all kinds of organs, guinea pigs grow out of bodies and state of the art technology is available to everyone.
The welcome note to Organic Mall makes body organs as enticing as this season's designer clothes.
"We have gathered world-famous bio-technology experts to form OM Development and Research Center. The human organ reconstruction system laboratory headed by Dr. Nova has adjusted the formation, moderation and regeneration of cells. Our products are non-toxic. They do not affect your other organs. Certificated by World Artificial and Synthetic Organs Organization, OM group's exclusive products have been available since 2065 ... Change parts of your body! We offer the ultimate organs at value prices! Shop online today!"
Lin says electronic pets and temporary tattoos are just two of the inventions that promise more freedom to play with our appearance and interract with living creatures at the start of the century. Artificial organs are just further down the road.
"In this millennium, body organs will be nothing more than accessories. They are in me, and yet they are not me. It's like women's breasts are the instruments of socializing, as they say. You can have the organs delivered to your house, by driver. You can immediately enjoy their comfort. These organs are even better than electronic pets because you don't have to take care of them or keep it alive. The minute you're tired of an organ, just order a new one online," Lin said.
As Organic Mall is more conceptual than installation, however, a visit to the show at IT Park is an unsatisfactory experience. A plastic eyeball, a liver, a penis and a pair of lungs are placed in display cases with set prices on them. Then there's a projection of the namesake Web site on the wall and ... nothing else. Why not be greeted by staff at the "mall," or at least have an atmosphere that was more resonant of 2065, rather than now.
The project works better as an Internet site.
If Organic Mall does not touch the viewers in the way George Orwell's 1984 alarmed his readers, it's because the context of the organ-trading is too sketchy and what is clear about this scenario is too similar to the present.
Part of the limited information about developing organs is that they from guinea pigs. Do we care about them enough to find the work relevant?
"Organic Mall" runs until Oct. 11 at IT Park, 2F, 41 Yi-tong St, Taipei. (