Exhibition - Living Gallery
When Franklin, Crick, and Watson discovered the structure of DNA in 1953, they rendered the realm of the living as a system of information. Since then we have extended beyond all recognition our capacity to explore every aspect of life - from biological systems to new forms of intervention in medicine and genetic engineering. We are extending our lifespan and learning to master processes that once represented the deepest secrets of nature. We stand at a new threshold, and the key questions of our day are those posed by the intersection of design and life itself.
This gallery features innovations in the areas of food production, health care, clean water - while drawing attention to the ethical issues that these subjects raise. The cases are presented in a dispassionate way, to ensure that the audience considers them on a more subjective level. The room’s theme, the labyrinthine world of ethics and global health, is reflected in the construction of the room as a maze.
Our new understanding of genetic processes has necessarily ignited fierce philosophical debate: have we come to consider the natural world as a frontier of innovation, or exploitation? How will our decisions now affect the natural world as we know it? This gallery encourages public reflection on such questions by offering opportunities to vote on subjects ranging from genomics to GM crops. The hopes and fears of each of each field are presented side-by-side, and ultimately present the central dilemma: Should we be doing this?
1. GENOMICS/THE BODY:
The first area of the gallery conveys new approaches to the human body, from stem cell research and regenerative medicine to prosthetic limb and organ development. The innovations are situated on a body, where the viewer can understand how and where they function.
2. DELIVERY METHODS:
This next subject deals primarily with innovative approaches to medicine and nutrient delivery. No longer restricted to syringes and other potentially dangerous systems, this section tells stories such as Golden Rice, which is genetically modified to encourage Vitamin A production in the body.
3. MODIFIED CROPS:
Currently, we lose a staggering forty percent of our global agricultural production to pests each year. With a global population that promises to increase by 50% within the next century, we must find methods of producing enough to sustain us all. This section deals with two current approaches to this question: genetic modification of crop plants as well as organic smart breeding for higher productivity.
4. MODIFIED ANIMALS:
We are altering animals to grow larger and faster, and to withstand a greater range of conditions. This area is ethically fraught, in terms of animal husbandry, food supply and conservation. Once again, this area deals with both smart breeding (as in Avigdor Cahaner’s featherless chicken) and genetic modification (as in GM salmon). Models of such creatures are on display to demonstrate new traits.
This wall summarizes the single most difficult issue facing the future of health: that of a growing need for clean water supplies. Throughout the Health and Living gallery are innovations being proposed to answer this basic need, including Ashok Gadgil’s Waterworks which uses UV to sanitize enough water for a village of 2,000 people.
Views inside the Living gallery. Photos Courtesy Institute without Boundaries
Explore the Exhibition: