“Hybrids” and “Mutations” are interactive installations which signify imaginary animals. “Hybrids” references historical monsters whereas “Mutations” represents a universal biological organism. In both projects, the user/viewer accesses an interactive database and is invited to change the image parts
making up the whole, resulting in surprising new combinations.
In the installation “Hybrids” illustrations are combined to construct an interactive portrait of an imaginary animal. This animal, a mutated, hybridized monster, represents the result of a genetic engineering experiment gone awry. Though fairy-tale-like in appearance, this animal hybrid illustrates the fact that scientific intervention, control and manipulation of living organisms is no longer fiction.
Hybrids such as this one, be they grotesque, humorous or simply odd, are an increasingly real possibility. It is not my intention to imply that science should or could be stopped in its tracks, but merely to imagine the absurd results obtained by tweaking the zoo of life in the name of progress.
“Punctuated Equilibrium” is a theory which states that genetic evolution alternates between long periods of virtual standstill (”equilibrium”), punctuated by spurts of very fast development, in which rapid mutation leads to new species.
In the installation “Mutations” photographs and illustrations are used to construct an image of a “universal creature”. Part microscopic organism, part plant and part human, this organism represents a creature both modern and ancient, existing at any point in evolutionary time. Parts of this image are changing very slowly, thereby simulating the “equilibrium” phase of the evolutionary process. The viewer/user causes parts of the creature to metamorphose very rapidly, as in an accelerated mutation, thereby simulating the “punctuation” phase of evolution. The relevance of this simulation to contemporary science is twofold: Genetic engineering is altering the process of evolution artificially, not by random mutation and natural selection, but by human intervention. What may have taken millennia to evolve, can now occur within one generation—a veritable nanosecond of evolutionary time. While the short-term effects of this artificial punctuation may be beneficial, the long-term effects on the evolution of living things are unknowable.
Eva Sutton - Bio
Eva Sutton is a digital media artist, photographer and programmer. Her current work explores the boundary between static images and interactive databases in which users change the visual state of the system. Before becoming an artist, Eva was a software engineer working primarily in the fields of biotechnology and large-scale database management. Her work has been featured at Aperture, SF Camerawork (San Francisco) Exit Art (New York), The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Tang Museum, The National Center of Photography in Paris, SIGGRAPH, and the on-line sites Digital Imaging Forum (www.art.uh.edu/dif), www.genomicart.org and www.pbs.org. She has lectured on issues in art and technology at venues including Princeton University, New York University, The Cooper Union, the Hong Kong Center for the Arts and the Ludwig Foundation in Havana, Cuba. Sutton is a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island where she teaches digital media and photography.
She lives and works in New York City.