Genetic art4 min read . Updated: 08 Apr 2009, 11:28 PM IST
Next time you want to give your loved ones a truly unique gift, swab the inside of their cheek!
Reinventing the helix
Intrigued? DNA 11 Inc., a three-year-old Canada-based firm, marries science with art to create your genome sequence on canvas, branded as a DNA Portrait.
In bright colours, pieces of the gene-based artwork—with names such as Ice, Atomic, Flamingo and Bronzage—represent your genetic code on canvas. And if you don’t have a penchant for chromosome-inspired compositions, there are FingerPrint and KISS Portrait options. Endorsed by The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, design stores in New York as innovative masterpieces, DNA Portrait makes the ultimate personal artistic statement.
DNA 11 was founded by Adrian Salamunovic and Nazim Ahmed, and was brought to India by Qadir Rangwala in September. “It was during one of my visits to New York and to MoMA that I saw this esoteric canvas amidst some renowned work of artists," recalls Rangwala. “When I got the full story about the creators (DNA 11) and how it works, I bought a canvas for myself. And then I thought, if it works for me, it would work for anyone else! I was very sure that this novel idea would be received well in India."
A few meetings with the founders established the partnership, and DNA 11 came to India.
From swab to canvas
To commission a DNA Portrait, you first order a DNA collection kit, which is mailed to you. It comes with step-by-step instructions on how to proceed. With what is basically a foam-tipped instrument resembling an ear bud, you swab the inside of your cheek to collect a cell sample, then transfer the sample to a chemical patch in the kit and mail it back to Rangwala.
This sample is then sent to a laboratory in New York for DNA analysis and later to Canada, where the genome sequence is sharpened, colours added, replicated as a print and then transferred to a canvas. The finished artwork is sent back to India within a month of the order having been placed.
Lips and tips
The same basic procedure is carried out for the FingerPrint and KISS Portrait, except that the samples are somewhat different. While fingerprinting makes use of a kit with an ink pad, all that a kiss requires is lipstick.
An extra personal touch
Your gene signature is as unique as your fingertips, of course. But what makes this artwork even more personal is a choice of colour and framing options made available to you. “You choose everything—the colour from the 25 designs that are available in each of these portraits, the size, the framing... And you can even sign the piece if you so wish!" says Rangwala.
Your family colours
DNA 11 also offers Couple DNA and Family DNA options. As the name suggests, Couple DNA is a set of two canvases created for partners, while the Family DNA canvas is a futuristic family portrait with your whole genetic code on the wall, which can be passed down for generations! DNA 11 can also create art out of the genetic code of your pet, if you so wish.
You can also ask for the GenePak with your DNA Portrait. “Because we are making something which has deep meaning, we want you to understand what this concept is about, therefore the GenePak," says Rangwala. “DNA 11 identifies four genes for you, (coding) gender, brain, love and sports, and explains their significance and characteristics for you. Each DNA, of course, has a different reading," Rangwala says.
Now the most important question: How affordable is this personalized art?
While an 18x24-inch canvas costs Rs30,000, a 36x54-inch one will set you back by Rs70,000. However, prices for the family DNA Portrait start from Rs1 lakh.
“The response has been phenomenal," Rangwala says. The company has tied up with hospitals and luxury apartment builders to build its client base, and maternity homes are next in line.
“We are also trying new techniques within the portraits to give a wider choice to people. For example, we can now craft your DNA in glass or, if you fancy, on crystal with stunning lighting effects…," says Rangwala. “After all, you are the artist here."
From the files of past design competitions comes the Envision Green Hotel proposed by Miami-based Michael Rosenthal Associates for Hospitality Design’s Radical Innovation contest. Part wind tower, part urban eco-resort, all egg, it could be one of the most recognizable landmarks for the city in which it is ultimately…laid. Like a living organism, Envision breathes... through wind and atmospheric conversion systems that allow natural air in without mechanical intervention. Photovoltaic sheathing provides energy. Indoor gardens create microclimates to filter air and add insulation. Pools of recycled water around the structure serve as catch basins, water reservoirs and fire barriers. Power from the wind turbine heats the boiler, which creates steam for the water chiller plant beneath the structure for heating/cooling.
— Gretchen Ferrao
A retired plumber and volunteer firefighter, 70-year-old Barney Smith of San Antonio, Texas, began decorating toilet seat lids in 1991. Dog tags, ancient European castle keys, a marijuana leaf, shredded money, a piece of insulation from the ill-fated Challenger spaceship and other tokens of world culture form his quirky palette of materials. He has done at least 700 seats and been featured in ‘The New York Times’, ‘National Geographic’ and ‘Life’ magazine. Most recently, he was the subject of a video documentary, ‘Commode Creations’.
Photographs courtesy DNA 11
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