In 1917, the Dada artist Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven turned a cast iron plumbing trap upside down and mounted it on a piece of wood. She called it God. The public was outraged, infuriated by her blasphemous insinuation that God was a mass-produced object, let alone associated with human bowel movements.
Eighty-seven years later, in 2004, Jonathon Keats attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish. Undertaken in collaboration with scientists at UC Berkeley, his God Project culminated in a study showing how the DNA of cyanobacteria can be mutated to express divinity through a laboratory procedure in which cells continuously metabolized worship. He published these results in an artist’s book titled Annals of the International Association for Divine Taxonomy. Though the world had changed considerably since von Freytag made her sculpture, he was roundly denounced by Creationists and Intelligent Design researchers.
For Re:Dada, Jonathon Keats remixes both von Freytag’s work and his own, mass- producing God as a dietary supplement that can be ingested by humans. Keats has industrialized the laboratory procedure he developed in 2004, modifying his methodology to genetically engineer vast quantities of Spirulina, a species of cyanobacteria routinely
consumed as a nutrient. The Spirulina is grown in a customized bioreactor, where it’s exposed to a proprietary mix of pre-recorded worship, inducing divine mutations to eventually dominate the Spirulina population.
At the end of the exhibition, the Spirulina will be funneled into bottles and given away to Swissnex visitors who want to start taking God as a dietary supplement. Ideally they will not only try the new dietary supplement, but will recommend deified Spirulina to friends, initiating a cascading effect that will support full industrialization and global distribution.
If we all internalize divinity, we may begin to treat each other as equals. And as a side effect, our newly-acquired divine power may manifest as personal responsibility.