Humanity Trumps Genetics

“Soma” The StrokesCarrie Mae Weems

As I watched part six of the Nova Documentary “Genetic Variation” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/programs/ht/rv/2809_06.html I was reminded of a visual artist whose work I am familiar with. Carrie Mae Weems work reflects the relationship between humans and the genetic code, this series juxtaposes the harsh modern world and the archaic practice of analog printmaking.  Although we have much in common genetically with a banana, obviously the emotional similarity is minimal to non existent. I believe her work “DNA Backs” shows that people, in their complex beauty and humanness cannot be reduced to the letters which make up their genetic code. This parallels the themes in Gattaca. In spite of the director’s genetic manufacturing to not hurt a fly, he violently murdered the man who stood in the way of his dream. His human desires overwhelmed his predisposition. This is also evident in Brave New World, although Bernard had all of the resources, social conditioning, and soma necessary to be happy, his inability to be fulfilled emotionally made him unhappy. I believe humanity will always trump genetics.

Carrie Mae Weems

Hannah Fasick

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~ by hannahfiasco on February 1, 2010.

2 Responses to “Humanity Trumps Genetics”

  1. I want to take your analogy one step further. You say that a human’s beauty and complexity cannot be reduced to the letters of the genetic code (which I think that work perfectly demonstrates!). I think you can even say that it represents that our genetic DNA cannot define who we are and should not be used as a brand to label us, which is a very real ethical concern plaguing genetic research. We are more than our genetic code.

  2. Thank you for sharing the work of this artist. I hadn’t seen this piece before, although I have liked other things she has done.

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