Stutterer

An instructional artwork, a poetry machine playing the human genome like a musical score.

Thomson&Craighead
Fri 7 Oct 16 (All day) to Sun 22 Jan 17 (All day)
Cultural Zone, Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton CB10 1SA
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Stutterer plays the 3.2 billion letters of the human genome, our complete set of genetic instructions, like a musical score. As each letter plays out on one screen, the artwork randomly plucks a clip from English language media that was broadcast during the thirteen years it took to sequence the first human genome and plays the clip on a second screen. The work highlights the scale of information contained in each of our cells - if the work played continuously it would run for sixty years - but also the rich period of history that was the backdrop to this monumental project; beginning in 1990 with the release of Nelson Mandela, to the the Iraq War in 2003.

The Human Genome Project was an international collaboration between twenty research institutes in six countries, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute based at the Wellcome Genome Campus was its UK hub. The Sanger was the single biggest contributor, sequencing one third of the genome. Stutterer is exhibited alongside objects from the Human Genome Project, including a DNA sequencing machine, which demonstrate the process of getting from an organic sample of DNA to the final string of letters visualised in the artwork.

Programming by Matt Jarvis. Stutterer was commissioned by LifeSpace Science Art Research Gallery at the University of Dundee for their new Discovery Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research in the College of Life Sciences, which opened in 2014 and was supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award.

© Ruth Clark and courtesy of the artists and The University of Dundee