Sculptor Adam Brandejs makes artistic statement with Genpet hoax
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Updated: Monday, October 12, 2009 00:10
Are bio-engineered pets the wave of the future? That was the claim made by Genpets.com, a Web site dedicated to the explanation and marketing of the plastic-packaged pets, supposedly made from gene splicing between a certain type of mouse and jellyfish.
According to Genpets.com, the company "uses a process called Zygote Micro Injection, which is quickly becoming a favorable method to combine DNA or to insert certain proteins from different species.
Most notably, it was used in 1997 to splice mice with bioluminescent jellyfish and has since been used to create glowing rabbits, pigs, fish and monkeys. Since then, human DNA has been injected into rabbits and chimpanzees, spider DNA into sheep, and now, Genpets have arrived."
Although these claims may seem outrageous, it is hard to argue with the legitimacy of a Web site with photographs of the product, packed and hanging on shelves, ready to be sold. It is especially convincing when accompanied by a 50- page catalog going into more detail about the process with instructions on how to become a retailer.
Too bad it was all an elaborate hoax.
"I saw the Genpet Web site when I was online looking at future business opportunities," said WVU sophomore Sean O'Keefe. "I came across the Web site and saw it. I didn't think it was possible, but it looked really legit. I got so bugged out."
Curious and slightly concerned about these new "pets," O'Keefe decided to e-mail PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), which responded by saying that Genpet is, in fact, a completely falsified concept.
"The Genpets Web site is actually an artistic statement by Canadian sculptor Adam Brandejs, expressing his reservations about bioengineering. His Web site, www.brandejs.ca/portfolio/Genpets/What, explains in further detail.
The Genpets themselves are sculptures made of plastic, latex and other materials.
"We are happy to report that no animals are being harmed by Mr. Brandejs," said PETA Research Associate Julian Carr in her response.
This was an elaborate and well played out deception by Brendajs, a Toronto-based sculptor and programmer, one that has obviously succeeded in fooling many into believing that Genpets are alive and for sale.
Brandejs reported the public's response on his Web site.
"While in the store window of Iodine Toronto, the shop owner began sleeping in the store as many nights, people would bang at the windows furiously. Some in protest of the small bio-genetically engineered creatures trapped in plastic, some wanting to wake them up or buy them. Hordes of teens wanting a bioengineered pet met confused, baffled or even shocked looks from parents."
Brandejs made the Genpets from a variety of materials, including several different kinds of plastics, Latex rubber and polyurethane foam. He also employed a makeup artist in their creation to make them look as real as possible.
Although they are not living, the limited number of Genpets are indeed for sale, going for around $1,200 for the animatronics and $800 for the non-moving variety.
In Brandejs's explanation for creating the Genpet product hoax, he asks one to "consider both sides of the issue and consider how we treat animals in farms and pet stores today. How does that relate?"
The Genpet sculptures have been featured in museums around the globe and are mentioned on the Web site for the Museum of Hoaxes in San Diego, Calif.