Proteic Portrait explores the intersection of art and biology by adapting modern molecular biology techniques to the production of artworks, taking advantage of the aesthetic characteristics of proteins. The final aim of the project is the creation of a self-portrait using proteins as the art medium. The self-portrait will be a sculpture representing the molecular structure of a protein – the mArta protein – whose amino-acid sequence spells the artist’s full name, according to the scientific convention to designate amino-acids by single letters, with a few changes due to the fact that there are only 20 letters for the 20 different amino-acids:
Using public protein databases it was possible to confirm that there is no known protein in nature with the amino-acid sequence of the mArta protein. It was even possible to identify the known proteins with more similarities with mArta. Computers were also used to predict possible three-dimensional conformations for mArta, based on the structure of similar amino-acid sequences from known proteins. However, the exact structure of mArta can only be discovered experimentally.
Developed in the laboratory of Professor Yvonne Jones, with help from Radu Aricescu (University of Oxford) and Nuno Micaelo (ITQB).
Tags: protein, installation, self portrait, bioart, genetics, gene, biology, art, proteomics, structural biology.