Cross-posted at The Valve.
A decade or so ago I read an article about appropriation as a BIG THING in the art world. I thought it was silly. And so I did what any intelligent person does when confronted with high-toned silliness, I riffed on it.
I took Dürer's rhinoceros as my starting point:
I then scanned it into my handy-dandy Jobs-Wozniak Appropriator and concocted the following dialogue on bioengineering and informatics.
“Do you think he would mind?”
“No, Dürer, Albrecht Dürer, the print maker.”
“If I appropriated his rhinoceros.”
“I want to do some genetic engineering.”
“Yes. I had this dream the other night. A voice kept repeating 'zebroceros' over and over again, with a very deep and meaningful intonation.”
“What's a zebroceros?”
“Well, it must be a cross between a zebra and a rhinoceros.”
“And you want to get into genetic engineering so you can make the cross. Isn't that going to be difficult? I mean, the zebra and the rhinoceros are such very different animals. Do you think the cross will take?”
“Don't see why not. This isn't like ordinary cross-breeding. Here we get right into the genetic material, the information specifying the organism's form and function. We just splice one strand of information into the other and voilà! we've got it.”
“I see. Tell me. Do you think we could make a rhinana?”
“Yeah, a cross between a rhinoceros and a banana.”
“Well, if it's OK with Albrecht. It's his rhinoceros.”
“You mean there's no problem about the rhinoceros being an animal and the banana a plant?”
“Of course not. When you get down to the genes it's all just information. Bits and bytes of biocode.”
“Well, then let's try something between animate and inanimate. Wrapping paper. Yeah, a rhinoceros and wrapping paper.”
“But wrapping paper doesn't have any genetic code at all. No DNA to splice.”
“But it does have a pattern. And the pattern is information, just like the DNA. What should I call it”
“Wrappoceros? Papoceros? Zigzagoceros?”