Mutate or Die: spermy, bloody bioart made from preserved William S Burroughs turd

A preserved turd from the colon of William S Burroughs is at the center of a plan to create a piece of "cutting edge bioart." The turd was preserved by WSB's pals, and his estate have donated it to the project. Artists Tony Allard and Adam Zaretsky will extract DNA from the bolus, and go on to produce a kind of bloody, icky mess called "Mutate or Die":
1: Take a glob of William S. Burroughs' preserved shit
2: Isolate the DNA with a kit
3: Make, many, many copies of the DNA we extract
4: Soak the DNA in gold dust
5: Load the DNA dust into a genegun (a modified air pistol)
6: Fire the DNA dust into a mix of fresh sperm, blood and shit
7: Call the genetically modified mix of blood, shit, and sperm a living bioart, a new media paint, a living cut-up literary device and/or a mutant sculpture.
Mutate or Die: a W.S. Burroughs Biotechnological Bestiary (Thanks, Igpajo, via Submitterator!)


    1. Close, but I think it should be something more like:
      8. ???
      9. PROFIT!

      I, for one, welcome our new ancient shit-spawn overlords.

  1. High tech gross-out art.

    “Living” bio art: Not for long. What’s the life expectancy of sperm and blood cells mixed with feces at room temp?

  2. Well since doody contains serious amounts of bacteria, they’ll be unlikely to isolate any WSB DNA. But who am I to poo-poo the idea of playing with poo?

  3. It’s just not that easy to épater les bourgeois any more.

    Because after decades of this sort of thing, only your fellow hipsters are paying even the slightest attention to “art”.

    You want to get the bourgeois angry, you need to get a grant of some kind so that they’ll be paying for the shit.

  4. I’m pretty sure the blood and sperm are not long for this world, but there should be plenty of happy bacteria thanks to the feces.

    There are easier and more effective ways to get human genes into bacteria than with a gene gun, though. I guess that wouldn’t be called “art,” though, just “molecular biology.”

  5. Sounds like it’d be offensive to all the senses. This is art in the same way stupid kids endlessly tagging illegible signatures over each other on subway advertisements is art — that is to say, it’s not.

    How about we take these artists, force them to frolic and play naked in their “art”, then bottle their tears and use them to mix a dye that we then use to paint bigoted epithets on basketballs made from human skin, then we have an exhibition game using the basketballs with teams composed entirely of child rapists culled from maximum security prisons. Wow, I can be an artist too!

    1. This appears to have worked on at least one subject, contrary to Wally Ballou’s statement “It’s just not that easy to épater les bourgeois any more.”

      Also, yes, your statement does display that you are likely above average in creativity, and that you get exactly what is meant: You can be an artist, too!

  6. I think Johnny Coelecanth and Wally Ballou summed it up adequately @ #2 and #7. This isn’t art so much as it is the usual, boring hipster shit-dabbling (both literally and metaphorically).

  7. I’m sorry, you lost me at “fire”. If you´re not trying to clone the guy, why bother with extracting the DNA at all? It’s not like anybody’s gonna give a shit.

    On the other hand, if this project is really supposed to have any serious connection to Burroughs, then the obvious thing to do with any substance that came out of his body would be to roll it into a spliff and smoke it.
    His DNA was probably the least interesting thing about his body chemistry.

  8. If *I* took a dump in a mason jar full of my own ejaculate and said some pseudo-scientific garbage about DNA and “geneguns”, would it be blogworthy? -NO.

    But put the name “William S. Burroughs” in there, and you can spoil breakfast for thousands of people. CLASSY!

    If this is supposed to be commentary on the cult of celebrity, I think Jeff Koons did it in a more interesting and tasteful way.

    Speaking of which, I look forward to boingboing showcasing my new line of WILLIAM S BURROUGHS BOOKENDS!

    Each morning I defecate into a Ziploc bag while reading Naked Lunch. Then as Drugstore Cowboy plays on a 65-inch plasma screen, I fire the bag into a 2×4 using a MATTER ACCELERATOR (modified rubberband slingshot). I then stamp the words WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS into the block of untreated, kild-dried Eastern White Pine, masturbate to Ministry’s One Quick Fix, and dust the works with “DNA” I harvest from under my couch.

    Each piece is individually signed and numbered by the artist and is available on etsy for $240 each.

  9. funny when I read a piece of shit from William S Burroughs my immediate thought was that you were talking about Naked Lunch

  10. Wow, how derivative can you get? Literally derivative. Figuratively derivative. If it were aware of that it might approach being interesting.

    But no, no…

    1. You didn’t see that episode of Mythbusters then, did you?

      Yeah, they actually did successfully polish a turd.

      1. no idea has ever been too stupid for art

        My guess is that “artists” such as Allard and Zaretsky are motivated by the lack of pushback.

        When Cezanne was rejected by the Paris Salon, when Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was booed at its premiere, it provided emotional reinforcement to the idea that I’m Doing Something Totally New And Different.

        That doesn’t seem to work any more. No matter how weird the latest concept of “art” gets, the hipsters all applaud, or at least accept.

        Which is not the reaction the “artist” wants….

        1. Oh no, you can still get push back these days and you can still have challenging ideas.

          It’s just that these guys don’t.

  11. If you can’t do real art (the kind that requires some actual skill and thought) you can always go for shock value.

  12. Over the years I’ve come to my own Definition Of Art: If you’ve got the balls to put a price tag on it, it’s art.

    I submit that this work is proof that my definition is correct.

  13. I’m more concerned with this project consuming a completely unique resource – Burroughs poop. There will never be more Burroughs poop in this world.

    Sadly, I think the poop itself is more interesting than the joking fake biology project the artists are enacting. I wish that the artists wouldn’t follow through on this idea.

  14. Cory, dude, I love ya, but can you guys put shit like this (!) beneath a post break? I had (luckily) just finished breakfast when I scrolled into this.

  15. Well, y’know, years ago I was making my own albumen prints using my own and other’s) semen as the colloidal medium.

    Worked a treat but was it art?


  16. Reminds me of when I was a new student at university and in a tour of one of the labs lab was proudly shown a fossilized turd. It was mounted on a stand as well hehe.

  17. It was only a few days ago I was complaining about the gallery showing adolescent D&D maps as “art.” Thank you for putting things into perspective.

  18. Ok, I’ll grant you that’s another way to get away with murdering your wife in Mexico. Fortunately, he’s up to his eyebrows in it. Buddha was wrong; the worst hell really is unending (because you have to imagine your own way out, but the path keeps doubling back like a bad Nikita episode.)

  19. I lived in an arts program house in college, and the kids with no talent whatsoever (just a fierce weed habit and too much money) did crap like this all the time.

    Piss, poo, cutouts of gonzo pornography scotch-taped up over other students’ artwork as a “statement,” nonsense like that is the hallmark of someone with no technical talent and no imagination.

    And it’s really, really getting old.

    Reminds me of a more recent jaunt out to the galleries in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. One “artist” (some rich kid who was doing his best to dress like a 90-year-old nursing home resident, down to the ratty facial hair) had opened a “gallery” in a standalone garage. His “art?” Sketchpads, sticky notes, etc…that had been scribbled on, torn up, and put in little Ziploc bags.

    He wanted $250 each per little sandwich baggie. It looked like he tore up and bagged the recycle bin at my office.

    People like that pretty much ensure that any attempts at pushing any real artistic boundaries–or indeed showing off real skill–will be dismissed or at least viewed with a more jaundiced eye.

  20. The only way this can be art is if they deliver it properly. Put on a big show, do the sciencey bits right there in front of the crowd, maybe even masturbate, and then you got art. Otherwise, if they just show up to a gallery with a tub of shit, then that’s what they have. Shit. And if they try to sell shit to someone or make any money off shit, or even hope for just some self promotion, then they become shit themselves. If you like shit, maybe this is right up your alley? You have no taste, but good for you for trying.

    But if it’s a performance piece, that’s great, I’m all about it.

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