Rosalind Franklin: A portrait in DNA

rosalind franklin in dna : I worked with Luis Ceze, Karin Strauss, Bichlien Nguyen, and Jeff Nivala at the Molecular Information Lab at the University of Washington to create this portrait. The background is composed of thousands of images collected through the #memoriesindna project which were transcribed into a Base-4 code and converted into synthetic DNA. Primers or tags were added to the code to aid in the retrieval process. I organized the images into a rough mosaic of Rosalind Franklin who worked with James Watson and Francis Crick in identifying the double helix nature of DNA. After printing out the mosaic, I painted a final portrait of Franklin in a medium mixed with the synthetic DNA that held the image information. I then coated the entire artwork in a transparent, DNA-infused medium. If any portion of the artwork is submitted to DNA analysis via Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR, the image information will be retrieved.

Storing digital information is quickly becoming unsustainable from both a lifespan and an energy standpoint. When made scalable, DNA storage can last for thousands of years in an understandable code (as long as we are a carbon-based life form) at a fraction of the energy cost.

For the record, I am not a scientist. Any errors or misstatements as to materials and process are mine alone.

Acrylic medium, synthetic DNA on archival paper.


The Memories in DNA site