Jan 9, 2008

The Bio-Art Case

Clipart from Clipartheaven.comThe news came out on Oct. 11, 2007 (by Carolyn Thompson, AP, as seen at Examiner.com)*:

“A college researcher has admitted to illegally mailing bacteria to an avant-garde artist friend in a federal case that arts supporters see as an attack on artistic expression.
Dr. Robert Ferrell's attorney, who characterized the mailed material as "high school science bacteria," said the University of Pittsburgh genetics professor agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of "mailing an injurious article" because of his poor health.”
This is a sad story, you may know the case. Steven Kurtz, artist and professor at the State University of New York in Buffalo, asked for some inoffensive bacterial cultures to Dr. Ferrell, who saw no problem in sending them. The artist used the bacteria as part of an art exhibit. However, in June 2004, both men were investigated for possible involvement in “bio-terrorism,” although finally charges were only for “felony mail and wire fraud.” For details, please follow the links:

- Professor pleads guilty in bio-arts case (phillyBurbs.com)
- Geneticist pleads guilty to misdemeanor in "art bioterror" case (The Scientist)
- Mail harmless bacteria, go to jail (Aetiology)
- CAE (Critical Art Ensemble) Defense Fund

(*) It seems that the original link to the article at Examiner.com does not work anymore, but here it goes: Professor pleads guilty in bio-arts case. Ah, this is the temporary nature of the internet...

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