In 1997 we produced an issue of Artlink titled 'Art & Medicine'. Biotechnology has moved so fast in the last five years that it is impossible to ignore the effect it is having on our view of the body and the self, hence our unusually quick revisiting of this theme. The mapping of the human genome has revealed that our genetic makeup is only slightly different from that of many other creatures, suddenly closing the gap between homo sapiens and the rest of the animal kingdom. In December last year we heard about the 'knockout pigs' - a litter of happy looking piggies in a pen who are unaware that the gene which would prevent their organs being accepted by humans has been knocked out, allowing them to become walking, squealing barrels of spare parts. Perhaps this is no worse than ending up with an apple in your mouth. But is it? How can we decide?

Now we discover that goats are being spliced with spider genes so that their milk becomes spiderweb. The proteins in the milk are spun into thread that will be used to fabricate a cable strong enough to hold a jumbo jet. Will the nanny goat suffer from being turned into a silk milk factory? Maybe not, but she will be a different animal. With transgenics, the ancient fantasy of the hybrid creature, part man part beast, evident in our earliest art, is now just a commercial venture.

In this issue our authors and artists consider what art in the Age of Biocybernetics is or is likely to be. Artists worldwide are teasing out the questions of how life forms are cheating evolution. They neither celebrate nor decry the new biotechnology but rather search to visualise the outcomes. How will it be to have a clone? will changing the way we look today through cosmetic surgery or xenotransplantation, and tomorrow through altering the genome change the way we behave to one another or to our fellow animals - whom we may begin to resemble more closely? will living tissue grown outside the organism be the art of the future? And importantly, have we been here before - did the writings about hybridity by HG Wells and George Orwell anticipate the implications of biotechnology or were these just the fearful imaginings of people whose understanding was inevitably limited by their time in history?

Last but by no means least, consider a new framework for thinking about art in Part 11 of Undoing Art History by Donald Brook.