All That I Am is an art piece which involves a transgenic mouse imbued with the essence of Elvis Presley in an effort to model the late great’s behaviour.
A combination of three online services make this project possible. Hair samples of Elvis Presley, bought on ebay were sent to a gene sequencing lab to identify different behavioural traits (varied from sociability, athletic performance to obesity and addiction).
Using this information, transgenic mice clones with parallel traits were produced.
The genetically cloned models of Elvis are tested in a collection of various contemporary scientific mouse model environments, simulating some of the significant biographical circumstances of his life – making his choices.
Sound mad? Certainly. Scientifically implausible? Absolutely. But to judge the project on its technical accuracy would be fairly stupid. This is art, at the end of the day. But it’s art I like, because it raises questions that are worth considering. Koby asks “Is it possible to quantify our life through a series of conditions and events? Can mouse models of ourselves help us prepare for possible futures?” As yesterday’s news confirmed, we’re not above spending billions of dollars on a machine that helps build better models with which to understand how the universe works. Lately I’ve been thinking about what happens when we turn those machines in on ourselves. We have vast supercomputers working round the clock to agglomerate the millions of different factors that influence our climate, and these models form the basis of policy decisions that have an impact on us as a population. Might we also demand personal models that weigh up the various influences in our own lives, in order to help us make better decisions? Will I be happy in this job? Should I go back to college? Should I have a child now? I think the ability to model our own lives accurately, to see how things would turn out if we were to take this path or the other, is the crystal ball that we’ve been wanting all along. This is Dicken’s third ghost, that can show us the consequences of our decisions while we’re still able to change our ways. I certainly think it’s something for science to strive for.
Visit the All That I Am homepage.