We get a lot of e-mails at SF Weekly, some delightful, some boring, and some that are downright baffling. Jonathon Keats' Epigenetic Cloning Agency falls into the latter camp, promising to duplicate famous people, including Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, and Jesus Christ. Which raises the question: What?
This isn't the first time Keats, an experimental philosopher and artist, has turned art and science on its head. He opened a photosynthetic restaurant for plants, exhibited extraterrestrial abstract art, and presented the nation's first Ouija voting booth in Berkeley, so it's not surprising that he's attempting to genetically engineer God. Still: What?
Keats explains, "Our genes are switched on or off based on environmental factors such as what we eat and the pollutants to which we're exposed, which is why twins with identical genes gradually diverge in appearance." Instead of letting that happen, Keats imposes "environmental pressures that force organisms with non-identical genes to converge. So if I'm cloning George Washington, whose dentures compelled him to eat mostly fish, that means administering a vast amount of omega-3 fatty acids, and also vast quantities of sodium since the fish he ate was often preserved with salt. ... In other words, if you want to become a clone of Washington, I'll alter your chemical intake to emulate his, switching on and off your genes to match the pattern of his epigenome."
Got that? If not, Keats is on hand tonight to wax genetic and offer all the chemicals ("bought over-the-counter at Walgreens") needed to become an epigenetic clone of George Washington, Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth I, Madame de Pompadour, and yes, Jesus.
The Epigenetic Cloning Agency opens Oct. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Modernism Gallery, 685 Market (at Kearny), S.F. Admission is free.