In the Mushrooms, Egg, Chicken, Camelids project, Koen Vanmechelen explores the boundaries dividing different species. Real crossings are not possible, but it explores whether substances from one organism can migrate to the organism of another species. MECC is an innovative art/research project, supported by IWT (Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology) in which researchers in molecular virology from Ghent University and Flanders Institute for Biotechnology collaborate with the artist to explore possible interactions between mammals (camelids), birds (chickens) and mushrooms.
The project aims to show that in some way we are all related and interconnected, part of the same universe. Man is also part of a planetary superorganism. He is bioculturally connected with all other species, some of which can be of vital importance for our survival. The art is finding the appropriate intermediary agents that form the bridge between the species; here chickens and mushrooms.
From a scientific standpoint, the possible transfer of immunologic substances and resistance will be studied. Dromedary antibodies promise to be a powerful weapon against viruses, but their merits cannot be fully delivered to humans yet. In studying the chickens, the focus lies on the Mx gene, which provides natural protection against various viruses, including bird flu. The Mx gene of monoculture chickens, however, barely demonstrates any antiviral activity. This might be linked to the limited genetic diversity of various artificial chicken breeds. The hypothesis is that the greatly increased genetic diversity of the Cosmopolitan Chicken can reinforce the antiviral activity of the Mx gene.