Among our many differences, humans have one thing in common: we’re all made up of DNA. The newest exhibition at the University City Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery (EKG) brings this fact to life in a live biological art exhibit focused on DNA Fingerprinting.
The America Project, created by Paul Vanouse, opens on October 20, 2016 and runs through November 19th. An opening reception will be held at EKG, located at 3600 Market Street in Philadelphia, on October 20th from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. The artist will hold a talk preceding the reception at the Microsoft Reactor, located on the ground floor of 3711 Market Street, on October 20th at 5:30 p.m.
The America Project allows visitors to take part in DNA Gel Electrophoresis, the process Vanouse uses to produce recognizable images. Upon entering the exhibit, visitors will be offered a small cup of saline solution and invited to participate by swishing it in their mouths for 30 seconds, before depositing their solution into a large spittoon. Vanouse will then extract the DNA from all of these mixed-up cheek cell samples, and process the DNA to create iconic DNA fingerprint “images of power” such as a crown, warplanes or a flag. The images will be displayed throughout the gallery as video projections of the live electrophoresis gels. (The processing of DNA will take at least a day, so the images that most people will see will be from previous visitors.)
In the midst of a tempestuous election season, viewers are invited to reflect upon some key concepts of America, such as the melting pot that is represented by the collective diversity of DNA samples, and the notion that the concept of power emerges from the people. Vanouse’s goal is to display how a single coherent image can be made from combined samples, and that while much is made of our differences, all human DNA is very similar.
Vanouse will participate in an artist residency at Science Center-based biotech company Integral Molecular. The artist will use the early-stage company’s labs to process DNA for the exhibit.
“By nature, artists and scientists are driven by creativity and embrace experimentation and innovation to understand the unknown,” says Ben Doranz, President & CEO of Integral Molecular. “We look forward to hosting Paul Vanouse – and seeing firsthand how his curiosity blurs the line between art and science.”
Paul Vanouse has been working in emerging media forms since 1990. Interdisciplinary and impassioned amateurism guide his art practice. His electronic cinema, biological experiments, and interactive installations have been exhibited in over 20 countries and widely across the U.S. Vanouse currently works as the Program Head of Emerging Practices at the University of Buffalo, and is the Director of the Coalesce Center for Biological Art.
This exhibition is sponsored by Integral Molecular.
About the Science Center
Located in the heart of uCity Square, the University City Science Center is a dynamic hub for innovation, and entrepreneurship and technology development in the Greater Philadelphia region. Founded in 1963 as the nation’s first urban research park, it provides business incubation, programming, lab and office facilities, and support services for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and growing and established companies. Graduate firms and current residents of the Science Center’s business incubator support one out of every 100 jobs in Greater Philadelphia and drive $12.9 billion in economic activity in the region annually. For more information about the Science Center, go to www.sciencecenter.org or view our 2016 Annual Review at UCSCReview.org