The Mirror of Faith


Boryana Rossa, Oleg Mavromatti, Michael Edel

1.Artists: Boryana Rossa PhD, Assistant professor in Transmedia at the department of Visual and Performing Arts at the Syracuse University, NY. Oleg Mavromatti is an interdisciplinary artist and award-winning filmmaker. 
2. Dr. Michael Edel, Control of Pluripotency Laboratory, Department of Physiological Sciences I, Faculty of Medicine, University of Barcelona, Hospital Clinic, Casanova 143, 08036, Barcelona, Spain.


“The Mirror of Faith” is bio-art project, meant to provoke critical public dialogue about genetic research, exposing some issues this technology and its political and commercial promotion creates. Our attention is focused on the problematic proposal that human behavior is exclusively genetically predisposed and culture plays a secondary if not a minimal role. The project is related to the research of the molecular biologist Dean Hamer on the genetic predisposition of human spirituality. In his book, “The God Gene,” Hamer claims that the VMAT2 gene encodes for a protein (brain chemical) that affects self-transcendence, spirituality, or faith. A specific mutation in the DNA of intron 7 upstream of the VMAT2 gene coding sequence is thought to be related to people who have faith or spirituality.

Our initial attention was caught by the media representation of this research and the controversies it contained. To reflect the central issue of embodiment and the harsh juxtaposition within nature/nurture argument, presented in media, we decided to create a literal illustration of these controversies. We decided to produce a genetically modified Transcendental Bacteria of Faith. We thought that by genetically modifying the two basic organisms in life, bacteria and yeast, with the god gene (science), that is associated with high levels of spirituality and faith (religion) we could create the perfect juxtaposition to spotlight the controversies and ignite discussion and critical thought once again. Involvement with this “absurd scenario” is a re-thinking of the notion of “genetically predisposed faith,” but also “faith” or “belief” in the media representation of science and religion.

For that purpose during the residency at Hangar center, Barcelona, Boryana Rossa worked with Dr. Michael Edel and Dr. John Gibling in the facilities of the Pluripotency Laboratory at the University of Barcelona. Rossa and Edel and presented the results of their work at Hangar. Rossa also demonstrated models of future gallery display of the work.

“The Mirror of Faith” is a project developed in the framework of Hangar’ Spring Session #2 – Grid Spinoza programme and the project Soft Control, which has the support of the European Commission.