Bad Information, Somar Gallery Space, San Francisco, 1987
The original print article includes figures of the OK Genetic
Engineering (OKGE) Company Car; the Bad Information installation at
SOMAR, the Technical Information installation at
Site and the OK Genetic Engineering Files that were installed at
Works in San Jose. Some of these photos are available at
1. My ideas about the shifting role of technology in our culture are
discussed in Judy Malloy, "Any Way You Look at It...ADM Has Your
Antenna," in The Un/necessary Image, Peter D'Agostino and Antonio
Muntadas, eds (New York: Tanam, 1982) pp. 76-79, and in Carl Loeffler,
"The Art of Information is OK: Judy Malloy in Conversation with Art
Com", Art Com 8(1) No. 29. Art Com is an online
journal available on Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN) on the WELL.
2. Many aspects of this work, in particular the knowledge of whom to
approach for information and how to make that approach, as well as the
ability to organize information, were facilitated by over 20 years of
supporting myself [while I was a single parent] by working with technical
information, including jobs as a technical librarian and a library
assistant for several research and technical companies. Although, like
most artists, I would much prefer to work full time on my artwork,
without a doubt these jobs have increased my understanding of the uses of
3. The libraries I used most were the engineering, chemistry and physics
libraries at the University of California at Berkeley. I got several
bags full of information at the 1980 National Electronics Packaging
Conference (NEPCON) held in San Mateo, California. Jim Malloy, the
Marketing Manager at Fairchild Semiconductor Hybrid Division, contributed
a great deal of information. Several boxes of information were left on
my doorstep by University of California, Berkeley astrophysicist, George
4. Site (1976-1983) was an alternative space in San Francisco that
allowed artists to conceive and present work in whatever way they chose.
Technical Information was partially funded by the National
Endowment for the Arts. The following people helped me install
Technical Information: Richard Alpert, Penny Dienes, Bill Seely,
Shirley Stuart, and the director of Site, Jill Scott.
5. Gilson advertisement, American Laboratory 12, No. 8, 16
6. Hughes advertisement, Industrial Research and Development 23,
No. 12,77 (1981)
7. Brochure for Bausch & Lomb Spectronic (r) 2000 spectrophotometer
8. Fusion advertisement, Military Science and Technology 1,
No. 1, 53 (1981)
9. Kistler Advanced Dynamic Instrumentation Brochure (received 1980).
10. Solarex advertisement. IEEE Spectrum 18 No. 11 n.p.
11. Raychem advertisement. Chemical and Engineering News
58, No. 43, 14 (1980).
12. Hercules advertisement, Modern Plastics 56 No. 10, n.p.
13. I used a battery-operated Radio Shack electromechanical address book
to make this book. The pages can be accessed either sequentially or at
random depending on which buttons the viewer pushes. I have since made
seven other books using various kinds of Radio Shack address books. My
use of information forms such as card catalogs is briefly described in
Judy Malloy, "Information Forms -> Stories: Information as Artist's
Material," Whole Earth Review, No. 57, 48-49 (1987).
14. Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 5th Ed. (Springfield, MA:
15. My mailing list for this project had about 200 names on it and
included artists, art professionals, friends and biotechnology
professionals. Fewer biotechnologists were included than originally
intended because, in the middle of the OKGE project, public controversy
over the Lindow-Panopoulos Ice-Minus Bacteria experiment, which
originated at the Plant Pathology Dept. at the University of California,
Berkeley, where I was working as a library assistant, made me feel that I
should restrict distribution of OKGE information to the art community.
16. Watson made the remark at a conference organized by Nature to
celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Watson and Crick paper that
set forth the structure of DNA. He was quoted in P. Newman, "Thirty
years of DNA,"Nature 305, 383-384 (1983). This quote was
used on a tee shirt printed by the Dept. of Molecular Biology at the
University of California, Berkeley.
17. These were matchbooks with pictures and slogans such as "OK Genetic
Engineering - It really works," as opposed to the matchbox products like
HLIV and SH gene mentioned later in this paper.
18. LKB advertisement (received 1983).
19. Biosearch advertisement, Nature 299, No. 5892, n.p.
20. Biologicals advertisement, Nature, 294, no. 5842, back
21. Charles River Laboratories advertisement, Genetic Engineering
News 3 No. 2, 22 (1983).
22. International Genetics LTD advertisement (received 1983).
23. Ortho-mune advertisement, Nature 294, No. 5842, n.p.,
24. Research Organics inc. advertisement, Genetic Engineering
News 1, No. 4, 14 (1981).
25. The OKGE files were installed with a table and chair in the show
Experimental Books, curated by Margaret Stainer at Works Gallery
in San Jose, california in 1986.
26. Jack Burnham, Great Western Salt Works: Essays on thee Meaning of
Formalist Art (New York, Braziller, 1974.) p. 38.
27.BIB1 runs on Apple II series computers with at least 48K memory. The
software I used was a Database Management System (DBMS) called VISIDEX
which was written by Peter Jennings and put out by Visicorp. VISIDEX is
no longer commercially available, and I am currently converting BIB1
to an Applesoft Basic database I wrote myself.
28. The databases I searched were the Microcomputer Index and the
Institute of Electrical Engineer's INSPEC. The database vendor I used
was Dialog's Knowledge Index. Some interesting quotes were also
obtained from a collection of over 200 computer buttons acquired at
computer shows. The buttons, which were given to me by the product
manager for Data Systems, Dave Aronowitz, have slogans like "COME BALL
WITH US" (TG Products button), "FLOPPY NOW, HARD LATER" (Computer
Business News Button)
29. G.K. O'Neill, The Technology Edge(New York: Simon & Schuster,
1983) p. 23.
30. J. R. Dondzilla, "Colorbot", Compute 6 No. 1102 (1984).
31. F.D.'Ignazio, "The Robot Teddy Bear," Compute 6, No. 1,
32. Bad Information was part of a group installation show at
SOMAR (a large gallery space in San Francisco) called Monumental
Women. The show was curated by Joe Babcock and Michael Bell.
33. A detailed account of how the bad information was collected on ACEN
is available in Judy Malloy, "Bad Information In- Bad Information Out,"
Art Com 8, No 30 (1988). Art Com was an online
journal available through ACEN on the WELL.