During my residency at the laboratory of Dr. Ana Pombo at the Imperial College London, I have created artworks using DNA and chromosomes as an art medium. In “nucleArt” I have used DNA molecules coupled to fluorescent dyes to paint specifically chromosomes, part of chromosomes, or even genes, in the nuclei of human cells. A laser confocal microscope allows the visualization of the three-dimensional structure of the cells. With this imaging technology it becomes possible to visualize the “micro-sculptures” resulting from the direct use of DNA as a dye. The artworks are the live cells with their nuclei painted. However, the action of observing them with the microscope leads to their destruction. This is an example of how the action of the observer can interfere with what is being observed, a recurring scientific theme since the Eisenberg’s uncertainty principle to anthropologic studies. In this work, the tension between the artwork, real but invisible, and its representation, always posthumous, is explored. These sculptures have been publicly displayed as video projections onto translucent and curved screens, in order to reproduce the three-dimensional nature of the artworks – the painted human cell nuclei.
Developed at the laboratory of Dr. Ana Pombo, Imperial College London, UK and Vivid, Birmingham, with support from Matthew Higginbottom and Emma Macey.
Tags: cell, chromosomes, DNApaint, nucleus, pattern, bioart, art, installation, biology, cell organization, cell biology.