Friday, August 31, 2012

The Art of DNA Barcoding

Arts and DNA Barcoding? Yes, this combination works quite well.

Three years ago the renowned artist Josseph Rossano teamed up with Daniel Janzen, Paul Hebert, and the Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI), to engage the public around DNA Barcoding and how it helps to bring new appreciation to the life on our planet.

The resulting exhibit features mixed media sculptures of butterflies, fish and sea life abstractions by Rossano alongside large format photographs of Costa Rican butterflies and  caterpillars by Dan Janzen. Visitors with mobile devices are able to scan barcodes on each sculpture, which then links them to a series of web pages hosted by the OGI. 

As an artist, I strive to distill ideas, concepts, and reality into their bare essence.  My resulting minimalist sculptures, I hope, convey an emotion, ask a question, or direct the viewer on a path of introspection and investigation, as they explore man's impact on the environment.

My series "BOLD" is named for the acronym for the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) database. The subject of each specimen box is neither real nor is it an accurate representation of the creature it is designed to represent.  The subjects of these sculptures are a jeweled representation of reality that draw the viewer in for a closer inspection.  As the viewer shortens the distance between himself and the sculpture, the specimen becomes increasingly difficult to discern.  The viewer, now confronted with the frustration of being unable to make out exactly what is in the box, discovers the clear and legible text surrounding the specimen.

The sculptures were on display in a number of galleries in the United States and also traveled to the South Australian Museum in Adelaide on the occasion of the  4th International Barcode of Life Conference in November 2011. Some of you might have seen the exhibit there.

In case you haven't and you happen to be around San Diego between October 2012 and February 2013 I highly recommend you pay a visit to the San Diego National History Museum and don't forget your smartphone.

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