Recently, I participated in an Exhibition called "In the Flesh II" at the Torpedo Factory's "Target Gallery." The curatorial position was to highlight the various ways contemporary artists explored the implications of figurative art.
The work is a cylinder with a modeled and cast head emerging from the top. "Billy the Test Subject" (as you might have guessed by the title) deals with testing on animals. The head looks somewhat human, suggesting a connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. In proportion to the cylinder, the size of the head would indicate that the figure's body is concealed within the cylinder. The cylinder has a brushed metal-looking texture. The appearance of this form is intended to resemble machinery.
Consequently, when the two elements are juxtaposed, one might have the impression that the figure is trapped inside a mechanistic form. The juxtaposition refers to the entrapment of both humans and animals in the mechanism of industry. The referents in this work are the mechanisms of scientific experimentation and testing.
The modeling of the head is intended to blur distinctions between human and animal forms. This reference is a comment on industrialized genetic experimentation being conducted on various animal and plant species. In this instance, the singular reference is "ANDi," the surviving (out of several failed attempts) rhesus monkey who had foreign proteins introduced into his DNA. The intent for this kind of work and other experiments (such as product testing and vivisection) is to study viral pathogenesis. These practices are inhumane and are corrupting forces in our society. The human-other-animal hybrid form is a reminder of our psychological and spiritual connection to the non-human animals. It is also a grim reminder that scientists are actively pursuing the development of patented genetic hybrids whose genetic codes match those of humans, near enough to achieve "accurate test results."