Biopresence /

Clarifications concerning the Article in the Sunday Times from Sunday, June 1st, 2003


>The artists will use either an oak or an apple tree.
Although it is true that Shiho studied Fine Art in London and it is true that I studied Media Art in Vienna the label 'Artists' is misplaced and totally wrong in this particular context.
Biopresence is a Design Project. Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art is a Design Course. Our roles in this project are the roles of designers.
It is by no means a fact that we will use either an oak or an apple tree. Principally the project works with any kind of tree. However, the decision which tree should be used will be mostly determined by practical facts, and, to a lesser degree by the cultural charge some trees carry already. We did not decide at this point, which tree we will use for the project.

>Scientists have said the plan is feasible and it could now become reality
after the volunteer came forward.

As far as we know it is true, that the plan is feasible, however, for various reasons newspaper reporter are apperantly unable to comprehend the plan in its details and sadly opt for short statements, reducing the truth until no truth is left.
We are not looking for volunteers. The project never dependend on any kind of volunteers to donate their DNA. We never agreed to use anyone's DNA in our project. However, the fact that people are interested in the possibilities of this project can be seen as an indicator for its relevance.
Since the initial public presentation in June 2002 the project was found fascinating by a number of people. Several people asked if it was possible to put their names down on a 'waiting list'. Again, we were not in the position to offer a waiting list, but we offer a biopresence-mailing list, to keep interested people update on the project.>The woman's genetic material would replace unused "junk" DNA in the tree cells in a procedure carried out in a laboratory.
We never claimed we would use the woman's genetic material. I am also sorry to see that the writer of the article used the simplistic 'junk DNA model' to explain the procedere - although I indicated that there is another, more complex, more interesting and more feasible way of storing information into an organism's DNA.

>The mingling of human and arboreal biochemistry calls to mind
It is not true that we want to 'mingle' human and 'arboreal' biochemistry. We are only interested in completly non-intrusive techniques of storing human DNA information 'inside' a tree's DNA. Joe Davis, a Research Affiliate at MIT's Biology Lab, developed an approach to encode binary information into an organisms DNA, by utilising the fact, the 64 possible combinations of Codons only code for 20 different amino acids.
However, there is no confirmation that Mr Davis, nor anyone else at the MIT Biology Laboratory is willing to support our project.>the art students' tree ...
As stated above we insist on being addressed desgin students and not art students

>...will contain the essence of the woman
The statement is untrue. We never stated that 'our' tree will contain the DNA
of anybody. The only thing this statement shows is lack of recherche and and the incompetence of the writer.>Finding a potential volunteer marks a big step forward for Georg Tremmel and Shiho Fukuhara, the students behind the project at the interaction design department of the RCA.
Finding a potential volunteer does not mark a big step forward for us. As for the sheer nature of this project most people find the prospect of their DNA living on in trees very intersting. However, we are delighted that people express their interest in out project in the public.

>Scientists at Imperial College, London, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have studied the plan and the Scottish Crop Research Institute is said to be taking an interest.

It is not true that Scientist at Imperial College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have studied the plan. It is true that we consulted a scientist from Imperial College about the basic principles of Genetics. It is true that we were talking with a Research Fellow from MIT about possibilities of storing information inside an organisms DNA. It is not true that the Scottish Crop Research Institute, nor any other scientific institution has contacted us in any way.

  Georg Tremmel and Shiho Fukuhara, June 2nd 2003