COSMOPOLITAN CHICKEN RESEARCH PROJECT (CC®P)
The Cosmopolitan Chicken Research project (CC®P) was created in 2008 and is the first foundation set up to explore the scientific possibilities of Koen’s work. For scientists, the CCP provides a unique and unprecedented research opportunity. Purposely selected and closely monitored, the art project has brought together genetic material across national and geographic boundaries and (thus far) created twenty new hybrid chicken species. The genetic material of all the hybrids holds a wealth of information. Once analyzed using modern genetic technologies, the genetic information can be used to identify, compare and correlate the different genes not only in phenotypical appearance, but also to fertility, immune response, resilience, metabolism, ageing and life span of the different species.
Under the title CC®P, the artist exposes his work to thorough genetic research. The project aims to catalogue and to investigate the genetic information of the crossbred chicken (CCP) and is led by Prof. Dr. Cassiman (Emeritus Human Genetics Professor, Catholic University of Leuven). The CC®P studies the genetic diversity of the different crossings produced by Koen Vanmechelen’s unique project and through this, bridges the divide between art and science.
Koen’s new crossings will share a great many characteristics with all their different crossbred ‘parents’, thus carrying a cosmopolitan genome, as opposed to the primeval chicken – the ‘Red Jungle Fowl’ (Gallus gallus). It is believed that this primeval chicken – whose habitat lies at the foot of the Himalayas – is the source of all presently existing races, through a process of domestication (i.e. natural selection and inbreeding) during the last 7000 years. It is thought that examining the genomes of both the parents and hybrids of the CCP, scientific research can illustrate how migration and exchange of genetic material give rise to a cosmopolitan genome, and translate into various phenotypes.
The preliminary CC®P data have already shown a tremendous increase of both bio availability and possible variations of the genome for transcription and translation that resulted from the crossing of different chickens, but also suggested possible beneficial effects on fertility and life span of the chickens. It is then just a small step to our human genome. Not so distant in its genome structure and migration patterns, parallels can be drawn to the human race. The CCP process also takes place in the world’s human population.
Genomes are being merged by individuals from different regional groups, not simultaneously throughout the entire population. Even though every individual originates from the same root, mankind has a great deal of genetic diversity – mostly individually. As such, the genetic research on CCP has the potential to provide further insight into the human genetic evolution patterns.