What if we could edit genes affecting to our psyche?

Contemporary western societies are facing an ambivalent trend of psychological optimization through neuroenhancers and mood elevating drugs. Through the scientific quest to understand the human psyche and character, which has increasingly become a matter of molecular biology, scientists claim to have found that specific genes fundamentally determinate behavior. Explicit features of character and psychological qualities, such as empathy and creativity, are traced even to a single allele of a gene.

These claims open up the question of whether the “optimization” of the human psyche would become an issue of gene engineering and biotechnology. In this realm, CRISPR is a novel gene editing technology allowing fast and precise applications to cut, edit and repair genes of all living entities including humans, at minimal cost. The aim of the project is to problematize the wish of psychological enhancement towards happiness and so-called better life in the era of accelerated biotechnology and genome engineering. In order to approach this problem, the work sets its focus on the ancient Greek theory of Eudaimonia, as one of the most fundamental philosophical concepts of “good life” as self-development technique.

The work raises questions about possible impacts of the CRISPR technology by linking it to the promise of eudaimonic life in contemporary culture. The speculative design project is realized as a fictional genome editing device, desirable consumer product designed for individual genome editing and as a short film imagining the possible societal impacts of this technology (See Eudaimonia Film). This near future scenario thematizes the phantasmatic drive towards happiness as the ultimate goal of human existence.

Happiness then, is found to be something perfect and self sufficient, being the end to which our actions are directed.” (Aristotle)


handblown glass / 3D printed brass / 3D printed polyamide with flocking / gold plated needle

Collaboration partners:

Pauli Hyvönen / 3D Rendering

Wiebke Matthes - Technical University Berlin Chemistry department / glassblowing

Jacob Palumbo / Science mentoring