INVISIBLE FORCES: AMY BUREK & KATE MINK
Microbes and memory can both play tricks on a person’s senses prompting one to momentarily act, think, or feel differently – unlike themselves – be it through an undetected illness or ambiguous yet intense recollection. Genetic code and photographs, on the other hand, reaffirm who we are in a conspicuous, tangible way, as physical evidence of evolution, familial lineage, and personal history. Two
mixed-media artists, Amy Burek and Kate Mink use these corporeal phenomena to creatively manifest the invisible forces that influence us, whether hereditary or imaginary. Although these artists’ subject matter seem at odds with one another, they are equally mysterious and awe-inspiring. Together, Burek and Mink reveal that perhaps the distinction between the magic of twenty-first century biosciences and the beliefs of nineteenth century Spiritualism is less perceptible than we thought.
Curated by Toni Gentilli
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THE FIRST HUMAN GENE
Beginning in the early 1980s, a worldwide search began to find the causative gene behind the inherited disorder cystic fibrosis. Looking at the genetic makeup of many families that carried the cystic fibrosis trait, it was determined that the gene existed on a particular region of chromosome 7.
Molecular cloning was used to isolate a number of large, overlapping DNA fragments that made up the cystic fibrosis gene. Once these pieces of DNA were sequenced, they could be arranged together to determine the complete sequence of the gene. In 1989, Jack Riordan and his colleagues published the sequence of the gene they named cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CTFR ).
In healthy individuals, the CTFR protein sits in the cell membrane and moves ions in and out of cells. In individuals with cystic fibrosis, mutations in this gene lead to CTFR proteins that do not work properly or are quickly degraded. This leads to problems in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs.
For this installation, the first 400 nucleotides of the CTFR gene were arranged in order on a large scale. Individual letterpress prints representing the four nucleotides (adenine, tyrosine, guanine and cytosine) were printed in colors commonly used for the visual representation of DNA sequences in software programs. Without any decoding or interpretation, the nucleotides themselves create only a visual image.