Guy Ben-Ary is much like Joe Davis. He is an artist, a scientist, kind of a badass, and completely, egregiously, face-eatingly insane. Guy specializes in biotechnological artwork, in order to push the borders of what we consider living and non-living, and hopefully to enrich our understanding of what it means to be alive. That’s fancy-boy, vest-wearing, Sartre-quoting, jackass speak for “he makes monsters.” And he totally does!
Though they’re not exactly on the Frankenstein level of functional horror, Ben-Ary manipulates living creatures into bizarre roles they would otherwise not occupy, often by combining them with cybernetic parts or other technology. If we’re to be completely honest about his profession? He fucks with life. Actually, let me put that another way: If anybody was going to actually make Robocop a reality, it’s Guy Ben-Ary. I don’t know how, exactly, he learned to do all this crazy shit, but seeing as how there’s no Make A Robocop degree offered at my local Community College, it’s probably safe to say it was through mad experimentation.
So! Let’s roll-call that crazy science:
The Living Screen
He’s rigged up a “bio-projector,” which plays movies using massively magnified living cells for screens. Over time the cells react to the heat, change shape, distort, and eventually die. So if you’re a big movie buff, but you’ve always wanted your theater to bleed out and die after you’re done with the movie, then congratulations! Your dreams have come true! And you’re also creepier than Steve Buscemi in a rhinestone thong. No offense.
Tissue Culture Art
Guy Ben-Ary grows tissue cultures into the forms of Worry-Dolls, which are a South-American children’s totem meant to take all of one’s worries away when placed beneath your pillow. Ben-Ary decided to grow a living worry-doll which, in a supreme twist of irony, worries me immensely. Listen, man, I’ve read enough hackish horror stories by Stephen King regarding dolls and their tendency to spontaneously spring to murderous life to know better than to sleep with even a normal doll beneath my pillow, much less this living monstrosity that looks like it should be constantly screaming in horrific pain. That shit’s just begging to get stabbed while by a toy while it yells stupid science-themed puns like “looks like I’ve poked some holes in your theory!”
But perhaps most impressive (and simultaneously most disturbing,) is Ben-Ary’s MEART project. On one side of the world – here in the ‘States – is a robotic arm equipped with a projector and some art supplies. On the other side of the world – at Ben-Ary’s lab in Australia – are the brain cells of a rat. The rat brain and robot arm are constnatly networked together, and the rat-brain dictates what the robot arm draws…which are presumably crude pictures of sad rat-faces and hastily scrawled notes that read “kill me!” The rat has recently started to vary colors, frequently returns to certain thematic patterns, and generally seems to be learning and improving rapidly. So, when the World-Wide Cybernetic Rat-Brain Internet inevitably becomes self-aware, and you find yourself suffering through an apocalypse that’s equal parts Stuart Little and The Terminator – well, at least now you know the name of the man that made it all possible.
Guy Ben-Ary: Artist, scientist, badass, psychopath. God surely blesses you, sir, if only because he’s very, very afraid of you.