“To say that DNA is ‘read’ or that is a ‘program’ is to make use of metaphors” Pablo Schyfter
[5’ GGT 3’]| Research project that constitutes a series of experimental artefacts that speculate the act of renaming genetics as literature by implementing linguistic rules and computational arts to living organisms. This set of in-vitro inspired fictions focus on the ‘otherness’ of the microbiome that constitutes us; becoming a subversive seed for new [biotech] futures. | [5’ Genetically Generated Texts 3’] is a collection of texts that were created by implementing linguistic rules to the central dogma of microbiology. This dogma creates ‘gene expressions’, where information inside a gene is read to build proteins; biomolecules that are required for the structure, function, and regulation within organisms.|Parts of speech [English grammar] are mapped by a trained NLP model, that follows the biological protocol and reads the gene expressions. A linguistic interpretation of the ‘instructions’ inside the gene is built instead | The output is then translated to DNA code, synthesized in a lab, and embedded inside the organism that provided the first DNA input; creating, at last, a living text-based ‘virus’.| Texts [letters] from microbiology’s father Anton Van Leeuwenhoek were used as the original text corpus, one of the first documented human observations made on microorganisms, especially bacteria. | Anton’s letters were cut up and rearranged following an Escherichia Coli growth gene structure using Python 3.
I took up some of it in a Glass-vessel which having viewed the next day, I found moving in it several Earthy particles, and some green streaks, spirally ranged, after the manner of the Copper or Tin-worms, used by Distillers to cool their distilled waters; and the whole compass of each of these streaks was about the thickness of a man’s hair on his head: Other particles had but the beginning of the said streak; all consisting of small green globuls interspersed; among all which there crawled abundance of little animals, some of which were roundish; those that were somewhat bigger than others, were of an Oval figure: On these latter I saw two leggs near the head, and two little fins on the other end of their body: Others were somewhat larger than an Oval, and these were very slow in their motion, and few in number. These animalcula had divers colours, some being whitish, others pellucid; others had green and very shining little scales: others again were green in the middle, and before and behind white, others grayish. And the motion of most of them in the water was so swift, and so various, upwards, downwards, and round about, that I confess I could not but wonder at it. I judge, that some of these little creatures were above a thousand times smaller than the smallest ones, which I have hitherto seen in the rind of chees, wheaten flour, mould, and the like. | Fragment from one of Anton’s letters describing microbial life to the Royal Society.
Molecules themselves are not visible, that is to the naked eye. Until some point in history, they didn’t exist, this was also true for microorganisms before the development of apparatuses [e.g, microscopes], they were part of speculation, wild theories and imaginations. Once these objects emerged, an ‘apparatus-based vision’ appeared. | “Artifacts may emerge from experiments in science, the “artifact” is an outlying bit of data-an erroneous often human-induced thing that can be ignored, like the distortion caused by the curvature of a lens. Conversely, for the artist or designer, the artifact is the focus of our intention: We are actively making things”. Synthetic Aesthetics. Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Jane Calvert, Pablo Schyfter, Alistair Elfick and Drew Endy. The MIT Press.
On language | If the basic unit of life is sign, and not the molecule as Jesper Hoffmeyer said, then one must use the most powerful of all human symbols: language, relying on semiosis to create meaningful scenarios. Then, exploring a connection between language and genetics; which is heavily based on signs and molecules, should allow an intersection between art and biological sciences, even if they only live in the speculative realm. After all, language is a powerful tool to create relationships with other living things.
Experimental artefacts | In the context of this project, are both errors [my own language disorder: dislexya] and physical objects, they should be understood by their cultural, scientific and visual meaning. With errors as an experimental practice, encouraged and expected. For aesthetic and metaphorical purposes we are gonna call them mutations.
[5′ Genetically Generated Texts 3′]
To as , in water it very an rolled microscope and mov’d or to I times together dis ’s intangle out again former foremost dis , 200 other not fast they be . Mov’d green distillers creatures atoms appear’d it roundish their , as together day, flat are to
Viewed others so in they thousand or ’s and I and untangle particles globul sort of make of and very and extending and in ; imagine day, to , having those others and appear’d day, or ; then the lay or judged but day, microscope poor moving in . Water 3 their ; dis , or their other seeing out , ; exact , have course among ; very two or atoms round the of sort the and
They to mov’d
[Animacules] Digital collage | Image: Monsters soup, William Heath and E. Coli Colony |Text generated from an E. Coli DHFR, Dihydrofolate reductase gene [Important for cell proliferation and cell growth] Grammatical structure, punctuation and spaces are given by the gene itself.
DHFR POEM [5’GGT3′] | Structure: E.Coli DNA | Generator: Machine | Transcription : Human
Poets like Christian Bok, who created the first ‘living’ poetry, by encoding his poems to bacteria and encouraging mutations that change the poems continuously over time [The Xenotext]. Or Artists like Neri Oxman and her Mediated Matter Group at MIT; Eduardo Kac’s concrete poetics and genetic-based media were influential to [5′ G G T 3′]
“In the future, a new generation of artists will be writing genomes the way Blake and Byron wrote verses” Freeman Dyson.
Genetically Generated Texts [5’ GGT 3’] has three well-defined threads: The first follows biological dogmas to create proteins and creates a similar language-based structure using python 3. The second creates experimental artefacts [visual sculptures] that speculate the effects of linguistic rules on living organisms and explore the possible aesthetics behind such a symbiotic relationship. The third takes place in the laboratory; where the original text-based fiction goes through experimental rounds, where it is encoded synthetically, embedded in-vitro and sequenced again to confirm the text.