If Peter Yeadon had his way, citizens of Toronto would now be happily feeding cloned sheep and petting human-ear-clad mice amidst bioluminescent vegetation at the Transgenic Zoo.
Situated in an urban park in downtown Toronto, the relocated Toronto Zoo would be supplemented with Dr. Moreau's menagerie: “The bioengineered beings are a stock of genetically modified creatures that are already available to us today, and will be tomorrow. Through recombinant DNA practices, we already make beings that heretofore never existed. We have spliced phosphorescence genes from fireflies and jellyfish into plants and animals to make them glow in the dark. We can easily change the color of peppers, even the taste. We have cloned goats, transgenically modified with spider genes to secret spider silk for military and industrial applications. These are 'designer' plants and animals of the biotech sector.”
One wonders what fantastic disembodied, self-living bio-souvenirs would be available at the gift shop.
But that's not all. Further blurring the line between living and nonliving, between the organic and inorganic, the zoo is envisioned as part of a “mixed development wherein humans live and work alongside animals in their habitats,” an unnatural combination that wouldn't be possible unless artificially assembled.
Like cloning. Like zoos. Like gardens.
In a hair and nail salon, for instance — at the zoo! — a polymer developed for growing human organs such as a liver or heart would be “used to decoratively cultivate and harvest growing parts of the human body” or as “cladding to support a snake-like skin that exfoliates and continually renews the facade.”
Which brings up endless scenarios of weather, air pollution, and even a raging smallpox epidemic affecting changes to the epithelial surface and tissued structure of buildings. Landscape as a modifier of architecture. Or landscape architecture.
The building is sick, and that's a good thing.
And: in trying to decide which new fashion to have for 2010, perhaps you can visit your plastic surgeon's petting zoo to have a look — and feel — at your choices of nose, ears, or limbs. After you've made your decision, you can help raise the donor animal, feed it lovingly with genetically modified vegetables grown in your prescribed allotment garden, and watch your face develop, your eyelashes lengthen on the back of a pig.