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(DNA) Biological Welfare

( Size: 43.5" x 48" Oils )

Subjects in the painting:

The themes veined in this painting are the advancement of technology; the use of biological organisms in medicine; the biological and chemical elements used in war; animal experimentation; deoxyribonucleic Acid (D.N.A.); the furtherance of the cloning of animals and eventually humans. Also the tinkering with genetics and the hypothetical non-reversible chain reaction of mutation, a catastrophe waiting to happen; the use of the so called 'Third World' countries as gigantic experiments to further man's appetite for scientific progress; and the future experimentation with fertility and artificial insemination (the off-the-shelf "Test Tube Baby Syndrome" - thus the need for bio-parents will diminish).

DNA There is a danger that, through accident and biological research, new strains of living organisms could lead to fresh disease and pollution (airborne), that in turn will create a meltdown, a physical reaction to cellular construction in Man, as well as animals, that will culminate in contaminating the growth of celliferous tissue, rendering it useless and unproductive.

This scenario would be coupled with the fact that vaccines would not be available. If vaccines were available, only the elite would benefit...

Also in the painting there are two scenes of Africa, the first relating to six countries in a state of poverty, disease, famine, civil war, tyranny, oppression, suppression and so on. Secondly, the inane acts of animal cruelty, man's killing of animals, not for sustenance but for the pleasure of killing as sport. Animal experiments, cosmetic trials, animal parts for medicines and potions etc.

Animal habitats, ecosystems and food chains eroded by deforestation, over population of man and his appetite for more and more land, usually to cultivate crops unsuitable for a co-existence with wild animals.

We can also predict man will one day "Clone" man, genetically pure, but at what cost !

The Hands invading the painting, through an illusion of a tear in the canvas, is a metaphor so to speak of a "Saviour" a " World Government of Vision", outside intergalactic presence, guidance.

The "Apple" as in most of my paintings represents the ubiquitous presence of Christianity and the world religions. They will go with the flow as usual.

E.W.Powell, 8.7.98. Painting completed 1993.

Complexity comment:

Recent developments in diseases, and mutations of bacteria, show how close we are becoming to the doomsday scenerio outlined here, where no antibiotics work, or those treatments that do are so expensive that only the rich can be cured.

The field of Artificial Life investigates the dynamics of genetic mutation and the survival, extinction and growth of mutant strains in an ecosystem. Mutations are encouraged by selection pressures, one of these being predators. Yet drug use itself is also a form of predation, looking to destroy the target organism. This can result in the survival of even worst, resistant, strains (from our point of view), by eliminating those strains' better adapted competitors within the ecosystem.

Overuse of drugs as a routine cure thus breeds resistance, and also encourages dangerous dependence by doctors on monopoly brands. To what extent is this excessive use due to the extensive marketing of new drugs, in a culture obsessed with selling ?

Is the motivation for new drug research the welfare of the planet and it's peoples or just the prospective profits of the few ? The rush to the patent office gives some indication. Many traditional 'cures' are uninvestigated and neglected. Are these ignored or dismissed because of ineffectiveness, or because they cannot be monopolised ?

Freedom to dominate other countries by war or invasion is opposed by the United Nations, but how long must we wait before we outlaw also the economic and political domination by global drug companies, holding poor and rich alike to ransom ? World health is too important a matter on which to risk our total oblivion, for mere profit.

Health, surely, should not remain a luxury of the consumer society...

Page Version 1.1 October 1998