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G-Commerce

August 27, 2003 - December 7, 2003

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Virgil Wong: RYT Hospital (detail), 2000; digital photograph; courtesy of the artist.

Fascinated with the powerful new language of e-commerce, a number of artists have attempted to take the issue a step further by simulating an electronic marketplace where "neutral" corporate rhetoric smoothes over the most questionable of trades. E-commerce is particularly poignant when human genetic material is offered for sale. g-commerce, curated by BAM/PFA Associate Curator Alla Efimova and Digital Media Director Richard Rinehart, looks at the impending future of e-commerce with its increasing variety of genetic materials and services. Is "g-commerce" a reality? Is it our future? What will it look like?

Virgil Wong's online project RYT Hospital (http://www.rythospital.com) imagines such a scenario. A mock medical research center's website offers online services that include designing genome for a future offspring or interacting with a neuro-interfaced transgenic mouse. The website purposefully confuses visitors, threading the line between real commercial site, conceptual art, and a wacky spoof. Utilizing latest web design strategies and a polished "corporate" presentation, RYT Hospital looks so convincing that one is taken for a ride, lead to believe that outlandish biomedical fantasies have been commercialized and offered to consumers online. Wong is uniquely positioned to make us believe. By day he is head of web design and development at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Medical College of Cornell University. By night he is an artist best known for his Internet art that explores themes of human reproduction and advanced biotechnology. Investigating questions arising from contemporary medicine, Wong creates both physical and virtual work embedded in the traditions of European art and anatomy.

BAM Associate Curator Alla Efimova spoke with the artist about commercial design, conceptual art, and his personal interest in genetic determinism.