While I was researching advances within genomic technology, I became enthralled by the progress biologists were making in the study of endangered animals. These molecular biologists had set themselves the goal of re-engineering previously extinct species and returning them to life. For example, The Flagship Project proposes to bring back the extinct Passenger Pigeon. To achieve this they would use the DNA of specimens found in natural history museums. These preserved DNA fragments would then be engineered with its closest living species, the band-tailed pigeon, to recreate a new breed that is as close as possible to the extinct bird.
I became fascinated by the creation of new, yet familiar breeds. By combining an existing bird, and mixing it with the DNA of a painting I wanted to create an entirely new, and wonderful subspecies. I have engineered these new breeds by thinking about how a certain birds' patterning and color could match the DNA of a specific painting. There is an interesting correlation between brush-strokes and feathers. Plumage, like paintings, has evolved to evoke very specific emotions: aggression, warning, seduction, joy. These new birds are painted on reference books which were integral to the research, in a way they contain all the information, all the DNA of the original species. I have now started to extend the breeding program with mammals and insects.