DNA has become fully integrated into popular culture now, and pretty much everybody has at least a rough idea of what it is. One of the great benefits of this is that it becomes possible to write a research report without having to spend a lot of time explaining what you’re talking about. Another great benefit is that DNA has entered the consciousness of artists and we’re getting a lot of great art.
Right now in London there is an entire series of DNA-inspired sculptures scattered through the city as part of a fund-raising effort for cancer research. If you happen to be in the area, there’s a handy map if you want to make a day of it.
In a similar, if more utilitarian vein, Daniel Lane has designed a DNA-inspired vase. This vase is makes refilling the water easy through a clever use of tubes, and is made with a 3D printer.
DNA, like many proteins, can be placed in a liquid crystal state. In that state, it polarizes light in interesting ways. This property was exploited to help decipher the structure of DNA over 50 years ago. And now, it’s being used to make really pretty pictures.
Some artists are taking a different approach and fusing DNA and other proteins into less abstract works that still respect the source material.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg has rejected abstraction entirely. Instead, she is gathering DNA from litter: cigarette butts, chewing gum, straws. She then reconstructs the faces of the people who so carelessly left their DNA laying around where mad scientists can get to it.
Naturally, you can get into the game as well, even if you have no lab or artistic talent. There are several companies like this one who will take you DNA and perform PCR sequencing on it. Then they’ll send you a pretty picture of the results.
Or if you, like us, consider your website to be a living thing, you might prefer to do the same thing with its DNA instead.