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Opening Alter Nature: The Unnatural Animal

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Opening Alter Nature: The Unnatural Animal
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Image by Z33 art centre, Hasselt
inside the DIY bio shed

Revital Cohen
Ready-to-use Models (2011)

Ready-to-use Models is Cohen’s new research project, developed for Alter Nature: The Unnatural Animal. With this installation, Cohen seeks to question the current defini- tions used to indicate living creatures. Does one denomi- nate a manipulated organism as an object, product, animal or pet? What consequences does this choice of definition entail for our perceptions, feelings and behaviours regard- ing these living creatures?
Laboratories deploy animals in the development of medicines. Much in the same way as products, rodents for various experiments can be ordered from online catalogues. In this research experiment, Cohen examines the nature of the SERT Knock-out rats. These rats are manipulated to not be able to absorb serotonin, the hormone responsible for feelings of contentment and happiness, and therefore consistently display increased levels of anxiety- and depres- sion-like behaviours.
For a species regarded as disposable product, Cohen has built a large play cage in which the environment is de- signed to boost the serotonin levels, in attempt to make the rat happy. With this futile and absurd intervention, Ready- to-use Models questions the exchange of roles between animal and object. The commodification of the rat is mir- rored by a sequence of collected footage depicting products being defined as pets; from Tamagotchi to Fur Real Friends robots.

photo: Kristof Vrancken / Z33

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