The Art of Science: Fruit of Knowledge

Charlotte Jarvis’ Blighted by Kenning is a unique cross-disciplinary art project that draws upon nature and biblical symbolism as well as cutting-edge science. As she describes it:

The project has bio-engineered a bacteria which has the Universal Declaration of Human Rights encoded into its DNA sequence. The DNA has been extracted and apples grown near The Hague, which houses the International Court of Justice, have been ‘contaminated’ with the synthetic DNA. They are currently being sent to genomics laboratories around the world, which have been asked to sequence the declaration and also to eat the fruit.

The project concept was presented at the Netherlands Proteomics Centre conference in February 2012 and is currently installed at The Big Shed in Suffolk, UK through August 26th.  (More info here) The project will be shown at other venues in the Netherlands later this year.

The artist explained some of the challenges of the project in an interview with her frequent collaborator, James Read:

As with all these kind of projects we had to adapt to what was scientifically and legally possible throughout. For instance, at first I wanted to use the bacteria itself to contaminate the apples (not just its DNA), but it was going to prove nearly impossible to legally exhibit a Genetically Modified Organism in a gallery. More importantly, we would not have been able to ask people to eat it, and that is crucial to the project. It allows scientists to make a gesture in support of genetics research and to reject the idea that knowledge in any form is evil. ‘Naked’ DNA is essentially an inert chemical so there are no legal restrictions placed upon it. This has allowed us to do a lot that might otherwise have been impossible. (source)

More about the project and many others can be found on Jarvis’ website.

Author: michelebanks1

Artist and blogger

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