Is This Baby Mine?

Dec 2021
Performance Art
Artificial Embryo

Special Thanks
Susie Fu

Is This Baby Mine? is an experimental performance on how the artificial embryo may affect humans in the future. 

Concept Statement

What does a portraiture mean to us? Will the power of seeing our own portraiture have an effect on our perception of things that are hard to empathize with? The direct line between human consciousness, anatomy and portraiture in art history indicates that humans resort to portraitures to observe invisible, even unknown, inner selves.

Pregnant women contribute a lot to selfie communities. Not only limited to faces, they also see the portraiture as an integrated image of their body, including the belly, limbs, faces and hips. Women anticipate their baby every time they touch their own belly and see
themselves in the mirror, though complaining a lot about their inflated body shapes. There’s a moment of delight through observations on their pregnant portraitures.

Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican portraiture painter as well as a tortured being for losing her uterus in a car accident, depicting her distorted perception of this world by visualizing inner pain out as bloody uteruses entangling around invisible lines outside the belly.

In this era, the artificial embryos become a heated topic around the corner.

To cope with its potentially sluggish birth rate, China has published its third-child policy several months right after it launched the second-child policy, authorizing more privileges to those who are willing to have a third child in the family. The constant waves of birth policies instigated discussions about whether women are still reproduction
tools in this whole new era among low-to-mid classes in the society. Indeed, birth policies are one of the keys that humans can never escape from no matter how advanced their economic and technological levels are. On the other side of the world, while Indians are still struggling to lower their birth rate, people in the United States are protesting for the right of abolition.

Will the rise of synthetic embryology bring up a new solution to giving birth? If humans are no longer directly responsible for giving birth to new life, will all of problems above get solved? The artificial embryos are getting people for and against them.

This project aims at asking how an artificial embryo actually feels by visualizing artificially generated embryos out of a physical belly.

Besides, through training human embryos by the machine, we also see an alien ‘baby’ comes out of the BlackBox in the machine.

‘Is this baby mine?’ becomes not a question only for its participants to think if this ‘artificial baby’ is theirs, but also for people in the field of machine learning to think whom this baby generated from the machine belongs to?

Tools & Materials

  • The Multi-Dimensional Human Embryo dataset by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Lightweight GANs
  • A balloon inflated with water and air
  • A mirror (18⅞ x 47¼)
  • A BENO projector
  • A chair