Seattle-based artist, Joseph Rossano, has partnered with biologists to engage the public around the science of DNA barcoding and how it is being used to catalog the world's vast—and threatened—biodiversity.
Among the many applications of DNA barcoding is its use as an important tool in modern conservation biology. Indeed, conservation is at the very core of this work, which provides viewers with the opportunity to reflect on the impact of humankind on our environment.
If you look closely at the side of the encasement on these works of art, you will see a series of A's, C's, G's and T's. They make up a DNA sequence, but not just any sequence—it is a sequence unique to this species. Each has a different sequence at this particular spot in their DNA code. Scientists call this sequence fragment a "DNA barcode".
Learn more about Joseph Rossano on his website: www.josephrossano.com
From the artist...
As an artist, I strive to distill ideas, concepts, and reality into their bare essence. My resulting minimalist sculptures, I hope, convey an emotion, ask a question, or direct the viewer on a path of introspection and investigation, as they explore man's impact on the environment.
My series "BOLD" is named for the acronym for the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) database. The subject of each specimen box is neither real nor is it an accurate representation of the creature it is designed to represent. The subjects of these sculptures are jeweled representations of reality that draw the viewer in for a closer inspection. As the viewer shortens the distance between himself and the sculpture, the specimen becomes increasingly difficult to discern. The viewer, now confronted with the frustration of being unable to make out exactly what is in the box, discovers the clear and legible text surrounding the specimen. The text is the 100% accurate representation of the specimen that attracted you. The text is the FASTA file, a textual representation of the DNA barcode that identifies the unique species.
What is the story of this specimen? What is a DNA barcode? I'm not a scientist; my role in this interactive collaboration is to distill reality into a visual hook that leads you to the answers. Welcome to BOLD.