The Artificial Natural: Manipulating Butterfly Wing Patterns for Artistic Purposes*

Recent advances in biology allow interference with normal animal development, making possible the creation of novel live organisms. The author’s project explores this potential through her work in a laboratory creating live adult butterflies with wing patterns modified for artistic purposes. Although these patterns are determined by direct human intervention, they are made exclusively of normal live cells. As genes from the germ line are left untouched, the new patterns are not transmitted to the offspring. Therefore, this form of art literally lives and dies. It is simultaneously art and life.