We can all see that the letters in “Ai Hasegawa, Shark Mother” rearrange to spell “Aha! Hogwash! Rare mistake.”
But it isn’t hogwash, and it isn’t a mistake. It’s a rare “Aha” moment brought to us by a wacky genius I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more about.
Ai Hasegawa is an artist, animator, illustrator, and character designer. After studying in Japan, where she created ecological-education artwork for Japanese national TV, she moved to London for further study at the Royal College of Art.
She’s interested in “audience participatory interactive public art”. Not sure how that relates to the projects she’s currently showcasing on her website, http://aihasegawa.info. The latter include “I Wanna Deliver a Shark…”, “The Extreme Environment Love Hotel”, and “Shared Baby”.
To Deliver a Shark
Confused by everything you’re hearing about cloning, genetic tinkering, test-tube babies, surrogate motherhood, and all the rest? Wait till Ai finishes messing with your mind: She claims it is (or soon will be) possible for a human woman to become pregnant with an implanted shark embryo, carry it to term, and give birth.
And she wants to!
Why? Several reasons. She would quiet the insistent demands of her ticking biological clock, without adding to the looming problem of human over-population. Sharks are an endangered species, and she would be doing her part to protect them from extinction.
And besides, sharks are delicious! Ai says she would outfit her newborn shark-baby with a GPS transponder before letting it loose into the sea, where it could grow to adulthood and full flavor. Then she would catch and eat it, returning it to her own body where it began. All without worsening the species-endangerment factor.
Her website, linked above, has a nifty infographic that helps you think through all the ethical and practical issues involved in cross-species birthing. Reminds me of a “Picket Fences” TV episode some years back, where a cow served as surrogate mother to a human embryo. (That, too, may soon be possible if it isn’t already.)
You can read more about Ai’s maternal ambitions at OddityCentral.com.
Sharing a Baby
And if you thought having a shark-baby is pushing the envelope, wait till Ai propagandizes you on the merits of having a shared baby.
Her premise: It’s possible (or soon will be) to create a human embryo by combining the DNA of up to five adult parents. She’s all for this.
The child, physically, would benefit from the enhanced bio-diversity of having five parents. Plus the parents, each of which would be fully bonded to the child (and presumably to one another), could share the parental load. Each could contribute more resources to the child. Everybody wins.
Including humanity, since this endeavor, too, helps cut back on the population explosion. This seems to be a running theme of her work.
Did I mention Ai’s “Extreme Environment Love Hotel”? This high-tech resort allows a couple to experiment with intimacy under conditions similar to those they would encounter on other planets. For example, her “Jupiter Room” uses a giant centrifuge to achieve gravity 234 times stronger than that of earth.
My guess is that this would flatten not only the couple’s libido, but also protoplasm, skeletal integrity, and pretty much everything else. But anything for the sake of science and population control!
All these projects have wonderful, quirky photos and drawings with tons of subtle “gotchas”. The science is at least as scientific as that of the warp-core antimatter reactors whose schematics you can download from various Star Trek fan sites. But maybe even more fun.
Be that as it may, Ai Hasegawa is an artist whose work I’ll be watching. She’s someone I think I’d enjoy having lunch with. And if her website were so equipped with sharing icons, I’d certainly give her a Facebook “Like” and a Google “Plus-One”.