For several years, New York-based visual artist and CalArts alum Jen Liu (Art, Integrated Media MFA 01) has been diligently focusing on a body of work titled Pink Slime Caesar Shift, which entails embedding secret messages in bovine muscle cell DNA. Liu’s ingenuity is in response to the communication restrictions and working conditions of female factory workers in South China.
In the culminating phase of her multimedia project, which includes live-action video, 3D animations, wearable sculptures and paintings, Liu received a 2018 grant from the Art+Technology Lab at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
The award, which is given to only four artists annually includes up to $50,000 in funding and support from the Art+Technology Lab’s advisory board. Among the members of the board are experts who work at tech companies like Google, SpaceX and Snap Inc.
This September, Liu is presenting her ongoing project, Pink Slime Caesar Shift, in a solo exhibition at Upstream Gallery in Amsterdam.
From the gallery website:
In the last decade, labor protests have increased in China, but they remain brief and localized, due to the government’s clampdown on social media. Large scale labor organizing is stymied by the inability to communicate across distances. Meanwhile, China’s resource capacity has maxed out, and shortages of beef – resulting in counterfeit beef scandals and imbalanced international trade deals – have become commonplace. If the solution to the latter problem – meat shortage – is the production of synthetic meat originating in cow stem cells (a real technology), then the bio-intensive workflow would be ideal for solving the former problem through using the meat’s DNA as data messenger. By inserting synthetic strings of DNA into meat easily decodable into lines of pinyin text, existing food distribution networks may be borrowed as channels of communication for political organization. Like Pink Slime, these messages are unauthorized hamburger additives, modeled on the oldest cryptography system: Caesar Shift.
Liu also received support for Pink Slime Caesar Shift from a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship in Film & Video and the NYFA/NYSCA Gregory Millard Artist Fellowship in Digital/Electronic Arts.
Her work has been shown at The New Museum, New York; Royal Academy and ICA in London; Kunsthaus Zurich; Kunsthalle Wien and das weisse haus, Vienna; Coreana Museum in Seoul, Korea; Aspen Museum of Art, CO; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; MUSAC in León, Spain; as well as the 2014 Shanghai Biennale.
Pink Slime Caesar Shift, Jen Liu
Sept. 1-29, 2018
1011 KB Amsterdam