[slideshow id=2]For millennia people have struggled to craft the human form in materials from clay to silicone. But while there have been some popular hits such as Michelangelo’s David, nothing in the world’s museums shows the subtlety to be seen in the living body. In our scientifically advanced society, the optimal way to create a portrait is to clone the human subject.
Conventional genetic cloning is technically problematic, but only because cloners apply antiquated genetic concepts. Recently biologists have learned that the genes you inherit don’t determine who you become. What matters is which genes are expressed, and gene expression depends on your environment. Epigenetics takes into account environmental factors from diet to pollutants. By evaluating these factors and replicating them, I’m pioneering the field of epigenetic human cloning.
Last month I opened a Center for Epigenetic Cloning at the AC Institute in New York City, where I’ve been attempting to clone five celebrities. My subjects are some of the most popular people alive, and some of the most widely emulated, including Lady Gaga, Michael Phelps and Barack Obama. I’ve metabolically analyzed each by assessing their gross biochemical intake, and, with assistance from the AC Institute staff, I’m now methodically exposing large populations of living cells to similar chemical formulae, systematically activating epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation. While the cells are not human, they are known to be genetically similar to Homo sapiens, and have been used as model organisms in the world’s leading laboratories. I’m epigenetically cloning Obama, Phelps and Gaga in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as brewer’s yeast.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is popular in laboratories because of its rapid lifecycle. Over the course of a month-and-a-half, yeast cells should begin taking on epigenetic traits of the five target celebrities, affording the opportunity to encounter them in person without requiring that the celebrities travel to Chelsea. Of course for many people, merely meeting those they most admire may seem superficial. That’s why I’m now developing techniques for human-to-human epigenetic cloning, opening an Epigenetic Cloning Agency at Modernism Gallery in San Francisco.
The Epigenetic Cloning Agency will offer patrons the chance to become epigenetic clones of popular historical figures including George Washington and Jesus Christ through systematic exposure to chemicals those people ingested while they were alive. As epigenetic clones, patrons will have the unprecedented opportunity to become the figures they most admire, rather than merely gazing at them or collecting artful likenesses. And to make epigenetic cloning ubiquitous, I’ll be offering a kit to epigenetically clone myself.
The Center for Epigenetic Cloning is situated at the AC Institute in New York City through October 27. The Epigenetic Cloning Agency launches at Modernism Gallery in San Francisco on October 11.