Humans-Time-Earth-Living Environment Freiburg-Kappel (Satis Shroff)
New sculptures along the theme path in Kappler Valley. This time Satis Shroff introduces you the double sculpture ‘Bios’ created by Thomas Rees, which shows the Wonder of Life, its creative dynamics and how wonderful it is to be living here.
BIOS: the Wonder of Life
Where does the word ‘bios’ come from, you might ask. It’s an artificial word that depicts a basic programme that is a prerequisite in a computer so that it can communicate, and so to say, come to life. Complex systems are made possible by bios.
On the other hand, the olde Greek word ßioc (bios) means life. All living beings have a basic life structure, namely the DNA, which is also a form of programming. A virus can overtake a host’s DNA and change the sequence through gene action and manipulation at the genetic level, as in the case of covid-19.
The Double Helix , discovered by Crick and Watson, is a spiral biological store-room with lots of information in the genes, that determine the structure and status of like. The word gene is also old Greek and means ‘to bring forth.’ It is also an acronym from the Basic Input-Output System.
Antibiotics are used against bacteria but they don’t kill the viruses. And vaccines against corona have still to be tested successfully and manufactured thereafter.
Life remains a mysterium, which has taken billions of years to develop, and is still developing. And through the climate change all animals show the ability to adapt to the new environment as they have done in the past. A good many questions crop up: Where is the origin? Was there an original programme, a fundamental principle of life? Could it be possible that there was a cosmic bios as a start information from which everything can or has developed? Are there analogues to human-made machines? How untouchable is the genetic code?
In 2018 it was reported from Beijing (China) that twins were born, in which during the embryonal stage a certain gene was removed. First it was a proposal to transplant a head to a new body. Then it was the world’s first cloned primates. Now it is genetically edited babies. Those recent scientific announcements, generating reactions that went from unease to shock, had one thing in common: all involved scientists from China. Research teams had prior to that discovered how they could manipulate the defence system of bacteria and enable changes to be made in the genetic code. The gene-scissors CRI SPR/CaS9 is a new tool which can be used to create the world of tomorrow: the genetic engineering will affect plants, animals, all organism—even humans.
In the meantime, the cutting of genomes has become a daily occurrence in many sectors. Through the use of these genetic manipulative tools, we humans, have the possibility to make fundamental changes in the structure of of life. Yes, we are playing God, by manipulating, making things optimal.
A silent revolution is going on in the research laboratories, and we are nearing the hope, but also have angst, and touch upon the basic questions of ethics and moral.
Is it ethical to manipulate genes? If the Chinese do it, so can the Koreans, Americans and Indians. The ethical, moral and religious borders are being tested and some have already crossed the line in the name of progress, science, research, development and promise of profit through this gene-business.
Now back to Thomas Rees’ wooden sculptures: the double figures comprise two gigantic fairytale figures and they could be Maria, Joseph and the child in the middle of the cradle even though they don’t. Whereas Joseph holds a double-helix formed spiral and is cutting it with a pair of garden scissors, the Maria-like figure has a newly born baby in her hands, which grows out of a double-helix spiral. The headgear of the figures reminds one of a spiraling fossil: the ammonite. The ammonites are also found in the Himalayas because geologists think it was once a sea. The world’s highest mountains are made of calcium carbonate, a sedentary rock to be found in seas and oceans. This has been confirmed by scientific Himalayan expeditions. The child is shown searching for contact with the mother and its face is turned away. Instead of the cradle there is a globe, an allegory for Mother Earth with her biosphere, in which all living satient beings, including Homo sapiens, can develop, depicting an environment for a diversity of individual lives.