SPLICING HYBRIDS: How can the edges of collage be used to critically reflect upon animal hybrids in the age of bioengineering?

This artistic research uses collage to critically reflect on emerging human/non-human-animal hybrids in contemporary bioengineering. The research asks what can be learnt from the edges fundamental to collage, where the juxtaposition of images serve as a method for critiquing the othering of animals that are non-human. Human desires for biological bodies that benefit from animal characteristics have been culturally enacted across time in cave drawings, non-human-animal metaphors, food and in-vivo testing. Now, contemporary genetic engineers are developing human/non-human-animal hybrids for human organ donation (Cyranoski, 2019).To critically engage with dominant ideologies of the animal-human dualism, I employ a method that combines collage with ethnography and speculative modes. I reflect on the mimicking of bio-tech practices such as CRISPR through cut and paste methods used for analogue collage, allowing me to rethink what it means to splice hybrids using collage practice. In aiming for an absurd reading of the images I make; I create a space for the discussion of bioethics and the critiquing of the label ‘monster’ for organisms that are difficult to define.Theorist Donna Haraway (2016) argues that speculative fabulation and everyday storytelling (or ‘worlding’) is important for analysing current issues and to move away from anthropocentric thinking. In engaging in research that investigates the edges of collage art practice and pushing the boundaries of what defines collage with the use of speculative fabulation, I can build deeper meaning into my work and explore myths and the potential for human/non-human difference. The research will contribute new insights to contemporary art discourse by rethinking collage as hybridity, and to contribute to a post-anthropocentric understanding of animal-human hybrids as they become a genetically modified reality.

Cyranoski, D. (2019) Japan approves first human-animal embryo experiments. Nature. [Online] [Accessed on 13 January 2021] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02275-3Haraway, D. (2016) Staying with the Trouble. United States: Duke University Press.