DNA / Body

Artist Statement

My interest in genes originally resulted from personal experience. I have had a serious manifestation of the autoimmune illness lupus, which has some genetic basis. Also, in recent photographic series I have addressed a related theme: our connection to our historic past. I have been drawn back before the dawn of humankind to the animals that preceded humans.

Genetic research, particularly the realization of the Human Genome project in 2001, fascinates me. It is remarkable that all of us-- including animals, whether living or extinct--have strikingly similar genetic makeup. This knowledge stimulated my desire to create a visual representation of the universality of genes.

Volunteers, in order to create representations of a man, a woman and a child, were coated with printer's ink or, in the case of children, tempura paint, and imprinted on paper to create camera-less negatives. The hands-on manipulation and tactile experience were soothing and primal, very different from snapping a picture. The painting of the body, the pressing of the body onto the paper, the rubbing to remove the ink became a ritual and part of the lore of the art.

DNA, the essence in genes, is variously represented: a drawing of the double helix; an x-ray film with the letters G, A, T, or C, nucleotides of the genetic code; a chromatogram of these nucleotides, which resembles a barcode; and a film of whole chromosomes.

Experimentation with the printing process led me to create images that are more impressionistic and evocative. Parts of each image are soft in focus; in other parts, the pores of the skin are distinctly visible.

Genes not only reflect where we came from but also are very much in our future. Scientists tell us that a genetics revolution will transform every aspect of our lives to the same, if not greater, degree than computers have. As we are beginning to see, ethical and moral questions abound.